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Monday, November 26, 2012

And now there are 4: A new student at the table




This post has been swirling around and around in my head for a couple of weeks now.  I've been trying to find a funny way to bring it up or to have a solution in place before I wrote just so I could make it seem like we have it all together.

The truth is that we are FAR from us having it all together.

The truth is that parenting RAD kids is the hardest, least satisfying thing I've ever tried.  Don't get me wrong.  We have (few and far between) moments of breakthrough.  We see (some) (slow) movement towards outcomes that we hope and pray for our 2 boys that struggle with this vicious sanity-stealer, but the truth is that more often than not, we do not.

If you've been reading for a while you're pretty familiar with the struggles we've had (and continue to have) with Yves.  And almost 3 years ago our struggles with Jerry and his tantrums began, which I've also written about.  But as Jerry gets older and closer to puberty (he will be 11(ish) on December 5(ish)), the extent of his poor choices seem to be multiplying.

For a while we just chalked it up to learning disabilities.  Therapists we've talked to have said that Jerry probably has dead matter in his brain from abuse/abandonment early in life that causes his learning troubles.  In the states, we'd be able to do the kind of testing he needs to get his specific challenges identified.  The school system would make a diagnosis and write an IEP so that he could learn in the optimum environment.  But this is Haiti.  There are no options.

He had been home tutored (by a Haitian teacher) for the first year he was here and learned the basics-- how to write, his colors, how to count, etc.  When we tried to get him into first grade in Haitian school, he didn't pass the entrance test.  In fact, he just wrote his name and left the rest blank because he didn't understand it.  So we were thankful a little over a year ago when Pazapa, a school for special needs kids in Jacmel tested Jerry and accepted him.

Jerry spent over a year there and seemed to be progressing, however, he was often getting into trouble.  We were regularly called into the office to meet with the director about his aggression/fighting, his swearing, his lying, his stealing.  (None of this was news to us because we deal with all the same issues with him.)

So a couple of weeks ago when Jerry was sent home from school with a message for us to come in to meet with the director, we thought it was more of the same.  Only this time the infraction was more serious.  Together with two of his classmates, Jerry snuck out of school and purchased a bottle of rum  and a bottle of klerin (moonshine) and then proceeded to drink it together with his classmates.  There are conflicting stories on who actually bought the alcohol as well as where the money came from.

Now, there are all these things that I want to defend about what happened... the other kids were older, Jerry has a hard time making good choices when faced with peer pressure, etc. etc. etc.  But the bottom line is that Jerry was involved.  It's in his character to be involved in something like this and I can't disagree with the school's choice to permanently expel Jerry and his two friends.

However, this has left us in somewhat of a lurch, educationally.  Again at the beginning of the school year Jerry tried again to get accepted into a traditional school and was (again) denied.  Now, we're sort of stuck.  When I asked the school directors what I could do about his education, they said they didn't know.  Perhaps try a public school.  But here's the thing.  First, I don't even know that we could get Jerry into a public school mid-year (which is unlikely), but second (and more importantly) Nick and I both know that this is not an environment where Jerry would thrive.  He has a very weak moral compass and it doesn't take much persuasion to really make bad choices.

And as I already said--  this is Haiti.  There are no options.  Kids in a situation like Jerry is in are usually done with their education at this point.  But we know that's not an option either.

And so we're at yet another turning point where we need to figure out a third way.  For the rest of the year (at this point) Jerry has joined our homeschool class.  I don't have the ability to teach him the Haitian National Curriculum, (of which I am not a big fan anyway).  So he's sort of being immersed in English, and we are translating some things into Kreyol for him.  I do not have the ability to teach him Kreyol and French and reading/grammar (in Kreyol/French).  He's still meeting with the homework tutor for that in the afternoons that works on some of that with him.

I am hopeful that by the end of this school year he can know enough English that (with a bit of assistance) he can work alongside of Josiah and Nico next year.  But for now, we're just sort of winging it.  As a somewhat reluctant homeschooling mom to begin with, this is super out of my comfort zone, but we're about 2 weeks in and so far so good.

I have no doubt that a lot is being lost on Jerry in our homeschool class and there are times he's probably really bored, but I also think that this is probably the most intensive attention to his education he's ever gotten.  I think that Jerry *could* thrive in this situation.  So-- we're giving it a go.

When we first moved here, we imagined we'd parent 20 children (plus our 3).  We also had the freaking rosiest rose colored glasses on when we considered what that would look like.  Three and a half years and an additional 9 kids later I find myself dreaming about what job I will have next when all my kids are grown and I am retired from the business of child-rearing.  I find myself with all these, "if I would have just known"s and lists about what I'd do different.  Nick often will say to me, "WHY didn't we just open a girls home?!"  But retirement is a GOOD 16+ years away.  So for now we just press on and pray for the strength to keep walking.

Would you pray alongside us?  Would you pray for Jerry?  Pray for his heart to know and accept love-- our love and the love our heavenly Father has for him.  Pray for healing from trauma he's experienced.  Pray for protection for the other children in our house who often are on the receiving end of his bad behavior and tantrums.  Pray for perseverance for Nick and I-- that we wouldn't grow weary with him to the point where we can't handle the challenges. Pray for resources and partners who can walk alongside us to help us love Jerry (and the rest of the kids) well.  And pray for God's spirit to rest upon us so that we can live in peace, regardless of the circumstances.





Sunday, November 25, 2012

Encouraging words.

Nia doesn't need to take a "love language asessment" for me to realize that her primary love language is words of encouragement.  She lives to be encouraging to others.

She is in a note-writing phase right now where she likes to encourage others with notes.  We find them all over.  It's adorable.  

Here's a pic of Schneider's birthday card from her--
Dear Schneider, I love you!  You are the best 2 year-old.  Thanks for learning fast!  Happy Birthday!  Love, Nia



And Nico's birthday card from her--
(Happy Birthday Nico.  I am proud of you 8 year old boy! Love, Nia)

The best part is that she's encouraging other kids in the house to encourage one another as well.  Nick and I got the SWEETEST notes from Sanndy and Prisca yesterday... but that's a post of it's own for another time.

Pray for this sweet special spirit to stick with her long into her life and not become jaded and grumpy all the time like her parents. :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Frenzy.

Today is Black Friday.

All of us ex-pats here have been making jokes about us going out early to the street market and pushing our way through people then haggling and fighting over items there... and then we were like, "Oh yeah.  We get to to that everyday." The Haitian market is the place where you might see produce thrown at vendors if the consumer feels the price they are being offered is unfair.  I have seen this.  Unfortunately, it was one of my (former) staff members that was the lettuce-thrower.

I have all these emails in my inbox and the internet if full of ads.  And it's not even just Black Friday.  It starts way earlier.  I was shopping for a new (used) computer at New Egg and their banner was their "PRE Black Friday FRENZY Sale."

They were advertising the word FRENZY as if it was a good thing.  Let's take a look at the definition of frenzy for a second here--

Fren-zy: (n)
1. A state of violent mental agitation or wild excitement. 2. Temporary madness or delirium. 3. A mania; a craze.

Okay, sorry, but WHAT THE HECK?  All three of those definition refer to mental illness.  Come shop our sale-- it's awesome, it's like MENTAL ILLNESS awesome. ?!?!?

Last night we were at a friend's house for Thanksgiving and they have television.  We watched a TV show after dinner, cleanup and poker.  The first set of commercials made me want to gouge my eyes out-- the consumerism was so sickening.  The second set of commercials made me less nauseous as I saw some of the deals being offered.  By the third set of commercials I was feeling like, "Yeah, I definitely should have thought to be back in the states for Black Friday.  So many good deals."  And by the last set of commercials I was actually feeling a bit angry that I wasn't going to be able to get the $15 jeans/$5 Half zip fleeces/Free game if you arrive early at Old Navy.  I wouldn't say that I was all into a FRENZY kind of angry, but there was a definite strong sense of frustration that I was ''missing out."

Now, let me fully acknowledge that I do not need more jeans.  Or a half zip fleece.  Or even a free game.  I have 3-4 pairs of jeans already and almost NEVER wear them in Haiti because of the heat.  I NEVER get cold enough here to wear a fleece product.  And we have a cupboard overflowing with games already.

But something about the advertising made me feel like I was missing out, and it made me feel like I wanted in on the frenzy (ie mental illness.)

Thankful to be far away from all of that today, because who KNOWS what I would have walked away with in the Black Friday Frenzy?!?!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Shop for a Cause: Stoner Handmade Market in Cary, NC this weekend benefit Joy in Hope!


   
If you're in the Cary area of NC, I have a GREAT way for you to get a headstart on your Christmas shopping this weekend!

THIS Saturday (November 24, 2012) is the SECOND ANNUAL 
Stoner Handmade Market
Beautiful handmade/repurposed vintage jewelry, lace items, and home decor!  
9am-3pm
A portion of all proceeds will be donated our family's work with Joy in Hope!

Also there will be a Haitian Market area with 100% of proceeds supporting Joy in Hope. High Altitude Haitian Bleu Coffee, Vanilla, Hammered Metal Christmas Ornaments and Angel Tree Toppers, Framed Haitian Art, Hand crafted woodwork and more!  Child sponsorship opportunities and opportunities to send a gift to JiH in the name of a loved one as a Christmas gift (and a little picture/note will be sent to them to let them know!)

Will you help spread the word to people you know in the Triangle area?  THANKS!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Manifestations in Jacmel: My take.

My HUGE disclaimer at the beginning of this post is this--  what I am about to say here is simply MY observations based on what we're seeing.  I am not claiming that I have the correct handle on situation or that this is the definitive story-- on the contrary, I am sure it is not.  But this is as close to the truth of the matter as I know now.

So-- my story will begin with last Saturday night. Saturday night a prominent agronomist Jean Marie Patrice Etienne was brutally murdered and his three-year-old nephew, Jorry Maxy, was kidnapped.  (Source: http://www.haitiobserver.com/blog/jacmel-reacted-on-jean-marie-patrice-etiennes-slaying-and-jo.htmlhttp://www.haitiobserver.com/blog/jacmel-reacted-on-jean-marie-patrice-etiennes-slaying-and-jo.html)

Sunday and Monday, crowds of people came out into the street demonstrating and demanding (at least) 2 things.  First, they wanted EDH, (the electric company) to provide power until at least 5AM instead of 2AM as it has been for a very long time now.  In Jacmel we have decent city power that usually turns on sometime in the early-mid afternoon and stays on until 2AM.  Now, this is a crucial point.  There has been a ridiculous amount of crime in Jacmel and surrounding areas around 2AM in the past year.  Many home (armed) invasions/robberies, a few shootings, and a couple of kidnappings.  Virtually ALL of these crimes are occurring shortly after the power turns off.  The criminals supposedly do their homework during the day, deciding who to hit, and then wait until the power goes off before invading in the darkness of night when they will have the advantage by carrying large flashlights.  So, the first demand is simple.  The people want the power company to provide power until 5AM to get us through the dark of night.  And it's not like EDH is a philanthropic group generously giving away power.  No, I assure you that's not the truth.  People pay well to have power.  EDH will not lose money by keeping the power on for 3 hours longer each day, because they can then charge people more.

That is a reasonable demand, in my opinion.  And the manifestations on Sunday and Monday (which included thousands of people marching and dozens --if not hundreds-- of roadblocks in and around the city to prevent normal movement from place to place) have been effective.  Tuesday morning, power stayed on until 5AM, so it's hard to say that the protests were unsuccessful.

The second demand (which is also reasonable, in my opinion) is the return of the kidnapped child.  There are many rumors about who is involved in this kidnapping, and let's just get it out there that kidnapping is kind of a hot issue in Haiti right now.  The lid has recently been blown off a huge story in Port Au Prince about gangs being led by the upperclass elite, with cooperation from some corrupt members of the Haitian National Police. (Source: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/19/3105468/haiti-kidnapping-shrouded-in-secrecy.htmlhttp://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/19/3105468/haiti-kidnapping-shrouded-in-secrecy.html)
This kidnapping in Jacmel, while lower profile, has some accusations of police involvement or at least police negligence.  Allegedly, the police were called repeatedly during the break-in and they didn't show up until 5 hours later.   

It's as if this crime was the straw that broke the camel's back.  The people of Jacmel have decided that they are not going to accept crime as a way of life any longer.  Jacmel has LONG been known as a safe city within the instability of Haiti.  Up until a year ago (give or take), we slept with unbarred windows and doors, sometimes even keeping the door open to catch the ocean breeze.  Jacmelians feel a great sense of pride about the safety of the city-- it was like a great retreat from the overcrowding, smog, and crime of the capital city.  My understanding is that people are manifesting (ie. demonstrating) with the goal of creating enough attention/disruption that it becomes impossible for the government to NOT make changes, or at least address the corruption that is making the situation more serious.

Now.  Here's something that might be surprising to some people.  I don't disagree.  I really don't.  Sure, there are inconveniences that have been created by these manifestations.  My kids aren't in school.  That can't go on forever.  We had nasty toilets for a day and a half and LOTS of dirty dishes when we couldn't get a water truck.  Getting around from place to place is a challenge.  And if it persists for a long time, then yeah, it's probably going to become enough of a disturbance that it actually becomes a bit unproductive.  But isn't that the risk with all demonstrations?  How about labor strikes?  Same thing.  People cause riots and violence in more "developed" countries for way stupider reasons (read: sports games and Black Friday sales.)

For the most part, things have remained peaceful during the manifestations.  People aren't bent on hurting one another.  There have been lots of bottles broken in the road and some personal property destroyed as people drag whatever they can into the road to block the flow of traffic, like loto booths or old broken-down vehicles.  (They are actually blocking cars only... Motos can pass.)  And during specific times, there is the threat of violence if people try to disregard the roadblocks (ie-- large stones sitting there waiting to be hurled at you.)  But if you wait it out, once the crowd moves on, you CAN get by.  You might just be sitting for a while waiting it out.  And there are usually back roads that are passable.  However, there are also some opportunists who are not necessarily a part of the main manifestations  who are strategically blocking back roads and demanding cash to cross their homemade roadblocks.  That sort of pisses me off, but whatever.  That kind of thing happens everywhere.

SO FAR, no businesses or government buildings have been damaged.  Like I said, schools and most businesses have been closed (or at the very least, not reliably open.)  Locals are quick to clear paths for vehicles to pass once the (moving) crowd has moved on.  We assume that will last at least the rest of this week.

I have heard that there will be a big manifestation tomorrow morning at 6AM.  Selfishly, I am hoping it passes quickly because it's Thanksgiving, and I am looking forward to celebrating with friends.  But, if that doesn't happen, I will live.  I respect the people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in.  We, too, understand the pain and disruption caused by the violence of the last year in Jacmel.  We grieve the loss of our friends and our feeling of security. I am hopeful that this doesn't escalate into something more dangerous.  (It could easily go that way.)  I am also hopeful for the safe return of the child.  Know that we're being wise and laying low/staying off the roads except for situations that absolutely dictate us being on them.

As you guys are getting ready to settle in with your families for Thanksgiving, I pray that you will truly be thankful for the ways that God has provided his protection and security around you during this past year. I was reminded last week that peace is not absence of conflict, it is a fruit of the Spirit that is experienced when the favor of God is turned towards you. And it is not dependent upon our circumstances.  I ask that you'd offer a prayer for the situation in our community, Jacmel.  Please pray for continued safety, for the protection/return of this child, for justice for the perpetrators, and for peace in the hearts and lives of the people in our community.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Nick's BBQ Sauce Recipe


We are getting all set to grill 500 pieces of chicken for our community barbecue later in the day.  Nick was up early mixing up 40 batches of his BBQ sauce recipe.  It's truly delish.  I recommend using it for chicken and serving it with THIS RICE (except that I use Jasmine rice instead of Basmati.)

Here's how you can make it:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or cane syrup or molasses) 
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, hot pepper sauce, garlic powder, mustard powder, and salt. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before brushing on your favorite meat.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

When love looks like Steri-Strips

Living in a house with 12 kids, there are tell-tales cries that Nick and I are accustomed to.  Josiah and Nia tend towards melodrama.  Jerry goes from zero to tantrum in .3 nanoseconds. Manita cries big giant tears if someone so much as looks at her the wrong way.  Nick and I know and can recognize these cries several rooms away.

But then there is that cry that you know means injury.  It reverberates through the house and it's timbre tells you that you're about to encounter something serious.

Nick and I have been burning the candle at both ends trying to manage regular life, homeschool (etc) and still have a team here.  Today was a really good day of work as a satisfying set of projects got finished.  We were both just sort of vegging out on the couch talking with Gayly when we heard Nia's "injured cry" start to screech up the stairs.

We both jumped up and started running towards the cry.  We met her at the top of the stairs surrounded by Prisca and Sanndy and a lot of blood.  It's in those frames of life, when you're not really sure what's happening but you know it's not good, that time seems to stand still, doesn't it?  It like life moves in slow motion.

We got Nia over to the sink and saw she had a deep cut on her thumb.  She'd been doing her after dinner chores and there was a knife in the water that she got cut on.  The "nausea of uncertainty" passed over me quickly once I realized we didn't have a life-threatening situation on our hands, but the "nausea of getting care in a Haitian hospital" was close behind it.

We were about to head out to the Cuban hospital in Cayes Jacmel when I remembered that there had been a team of American pediatricians in Cyvadier at FOTCOH.  Nick quickly called "Dr. Dick" and he told us that the team was still in town, and to come right over.  (As he always does when we've got a medical emergency.)

On the way over to the clinic, I was praying in my head over and over.  Nia's propensity towards melodrama comes to her honestly via my side of the family.  She's also got a low pain tolerance (also via my side of the family) and is a pretty nervous person.  (Again, my side of the family.)  The thought of her having to get stitches about tore my stomach up.  (Remember, I am the nervous one.)

I was trying to talk her into how great the clinic was going to be.  I encouraged her to think of how great Dr. Darla is.  That rallied her spirits some. Then I started trying to make it seem like we were on an adventure, "Just think Nia, you're going to be the first kid in our family to get stitches!  Isn't that exciting?" And then Nick reminded me of the whole Josiah heart surgery thing.  Oh yeah.  Except that.

We tumbled down the dirt road to the clinic in the dumptruck (the pickup was off on a trash run) and drove up to the clinic to the sound of troubadour music.  The group was having a send off party with Haitian style (they leave in the AM) and still they welcomed us in with open arms.

The doctors and nurses were SO kind to Nia.  They looked at the cut, cleaned it out really well, and (to my great relief) said that it can be glued up with some special glue and Steri-strips (while Nick held the iPhone as a flashlight.)  They said "that would probably be less traumatic for Nia."  And all I kept thinking was, "that will also be less traumatic for me!"





Nia cheered up very quickly when she learned that there would be no needles involved.  She was sent home bandaged up well and given the instructions to not wash any dishes for the next two weeks.  Then she was REALLY cheerful.  Her mood only improved when they gave her a glow necklace as well.  It was such a good experience for us that I fear that my other kids will start cutting themselves on purpose to get the kind of treatment she got tonight.

On the way home Nia said, "Mom, two great things happened because of this injury.  First, I didn't have to have stitches.  And second, we got to meet some new friends.  If I didn't cut myself, we wouldn't have gotten to meet that group."  (She's so optimistic.)

I will be the first to admit that I tend to be somewhat unsure of where I stand on the medical groups coming into Haiti thing.  So many ethical issues that need to be thought through... Tonight, however, my opinion could be easily swayed.  I have been to the public hospital here for stitches.  I got 4 big Frankenstein stitches on my arm where I probably needed about 12. (And have the big scar to prove it.)  It hurt like heck, was terribly unsanitary, and didn't heal well.  But then tonight there were people offering me an excellent medical experience for my kid in an emergency where excellent medical care is not usually available...  hmmm...  it seems that maybe I should come down off my high horse.


We got home and all the kids were crazy worried about Nia and she was just positively glowing with the attention.  Grinning, she relayed the news about her upcoming lack of participation in the dish-washing activities of the household.  

And I said, "And wow.  Nia, you will have to stop sucking your thumb." Fritzie laughed and said, "Good.  She needs to stop sucking her thumb." Nia just shook her head at Fritzie and said, "Ban'm di'w yon bagay Fritzie.  Le dwet mwen geri, m'ap rekomanse souse li anko.  M pap JAM kite dwet mwen."  (Let me tell you  one thing, Fritzie.  When my thumb gets better, I will start sucking it again.  I am never giving up my thumb.")

Feeling thankful tonight for excellent, expedient, free-to-us (because of volunteer doctors and donated supplies) medical care and also for cheerful, funny, kind-hearted children.  My cup overflows.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When love looks like new tires.


It's super easy to "sell" some needs we have in our organization-- anything having to do with kids, orphans, sickness, malnutrition, robberies, natural disasters, etc.  People are quick to jump on board to help with these kinds of "sexy" needs...

But then there are unsexy needs.  Things like replacing tires.  We may really need them, but they are a hard sell to supporters.  People feel passionate about feeding children and placing them in school and in families, not buying new tires.

With that in mind, let me tell you about the heart of this current visiting team.  Ahead of time they'd asked if there were any needs we'd had in the orphanage that they could bring down for us.  I promptly replied that the kids/staff all needed new sheets and pillows, seeing as how they haven't had new ones in over 3 years.  They agreed to bring these items and they did.  (And even moreso-- fantastic Memory Foam pillows and handmade quilts for each kid and staff member...)

Additionally, we submitted a budget for about $5,000 in project expenses...mostly related to getting our office/Yves' room finished-- new steel doors, painting interior and exterior, AND (hold your breathe because this is so cool), POWER out to the land.  Like our own transformer.  We would actually be able to have electricity in our office!  I know.  Seemed like a dream!

Nick submitted the budget and we knew it was right around the $5,000 mark, but just a tad over.  They came back with a few adjustments.  But it was to be that the adjustments were in our favor.  They said, "Yeah, that all looks great.  Can you give us another $5,000 worth of work you need done?"  

CAN WE ?!?!?!?!?!?

A few weeks ago I posted on facebook that I was praying for tires.  Just a few days later we received this update asking if the team could fund more.  Tires popped into our heads. The dumptruck (which we use for teams but for all sorts of construction projects and community service) has been out of commission for several months due to the these tires.  

Notice there are only 5 of them.  The truck takes 6 (plus a spare).  So yes, in the few instances the truck had to be driven in the past few months, we were a tire down and riding without a spare.

So, we just prayed about it -- a $2,600 ask-- and threw it on the list with all sorts of other projects that would benefit our community-- wiring the church for electricity, a community barbecue/movie night, a community playground, a pastor training conference.

And you know what?  THEY BIT ON THE WHOLE PACKAGE!

Check out these new tires?  Pretty rad, eh?


A lot of times when people come down to visit, they come with their ideas of what should be done instead of asking the people down here what needs to be done.  I am so thankful to be able to collaborate with Hungry for Life and College Heights Baptist Church.  This team (like all HFL church partners) have a tremendous humility in being willing to partner with us and trusts our decisions about needs on the ground.  They never asked us for a second or third option because they didn't feel like funding something as boring as tires.

And now-- yeah.  God has answered my prayer for tires.  Great, strong, sturdy, brand-new tires.  And he's provided it from within the body of Christ.  

So much of life on the mission field reminds me of passages I read of the early church in Acts.  The working together.  Sharing when things are needed.  The reciprocal relationships.  Caring for community over caring for self.  

It's beautiful to see in action.  

God's kingdom is for everyone.  I hope you find a place where you can experience this kind of love and support.  If you can't find it where you are-- just remember-- 4PM every Sunday at Church on the Beach, Raymond, Haiti.

You're invited.

We're waiting.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

List of Grievances

Today is Tuesday and that is usually my day off from schooling.  Nick is the normal Tuesday teacher while I am out at Bible study.  With a team in, however, we needed to re-work the schedule.

So, we started school an hour early and I did grammar and math with the boys and with Nia, and left a bunch of other work for the boys to do under Nia's "supervision."  I figured she could be a substitute teacher of sorts while I went off to Bible study.

Things did not go so well.

I came home to a list of grievances Nia had with Josiah.


Just in case you can't see the writing on the note, this is what it says (with spelling corrected):

Josiah:
1.  Does not sit down in history.
2.  Writes on the table when I tell him not to.
3.  Writes on the table again.
4.  Plays on your computer during history.
5.  Does not sit down when I tell him.
6.  Does not sit down again.
7.  Does not keep quiet.
8.  Talks in a silly voice.
9.  Does not want to do reading.
10. Still does not want to do reading.
11. Ignores me.

Dear Mom,
Josiah is too much for me.  He does not want to do reading, and when I gave Nico 100%, he is mad.
Sincerely,
Nia

***
Side note: Reading this list of grievances might be my favorite moment of being a parent to date...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Missionary Bob

We're in the midst of hosting our first team in over a year.  I *think* it's going really well.

I am sure I will give you an update of all sorts of projects and activities that they've accomplished at the end of their 10 days here and the ways they've blessed the community here.  (They have a lot on their plate.)

But my favorite part about the trip so far is that there (other than the Memory Foam pillows that they brought for each of the 18 people who live in our house!), is this older gentleman on their team named Bob.  Bob has been married for almost 50 years and was a missionary in India with his wife for 37 years.  I feel like he's just dripping with wisdom from his life experiences.  What a joy for us to be able to absorb some of that wisdom.

My favorite piece of advice I've gleaned from him so far had to do with preparedness.  Yesterday one of our visitors was having some stomach trouble and I went off to my medicine cabinet to get some Immodium for him.  Turns out I didn't even need to go, because Missionary Bob apparently carries it with him everywhere he goes.  He literally had it in his shirt pocket because "you never know when it's gonna hit."

That's wisdom, people.

;)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

World peace

I am getting old.  It's weird.  Nick and I are always saying things that I remember hearing my parent's friends say when I was a kid.  Things about time going by so fast when you get old.  And things about feeling their age. And how they need to wear supportive shoes now.  I am seeing the grey hair (that I have decided to stop dying) and the wrinkles. And seriously, our take on the fashions choices of teenagers-- yeah, don't even let us get started.  Everyone looks so freaking stupid to us.  And hello?  The length of skirts/shorts?

But I digress.

Now, there are a lot of you reading this that are years older than me and you're rolling your eyes at me.  I get that 35 really isn't old.  But I see the direction this is going.  I feel like I am on this train of aging that's quickly gathering momentum.

I always thought the weirdest thing was when old people said that they didn't want gifts for Christmas/birthdays/etc.  Instead they just wanted people together.  Or maybe they wanted something ridiculous like world peace or something handmade.

Another sign that I am getting older is that I totally understand those sentiments.  Nick and I have Amazon wish lists, and I can't even think of things to put on it.  I mean things other than consumable things like Venus razors, canned Tyson chicken, Snapple drink mix, and Lady Anti-Monkey Butt powder. I like gifts as much as the next person (I suppose) but I honestly can't think of anything I want for Christmas this year.  What I would prefer to a gift is, well, spending time with people.  I want to play board games and eat ice cream together.  I want us to wear cozy pants and drink hot chocolate (and wine) and talk about when our kids were babies.  I want to tell the same stories over and over and laugh harder and harder each time... I am even okay with us peeing ourselves a tiny bit during these laughs because we are old ladies now and we can't hold it like we used to before having babies.

I want to hang out with my dad and read the newspaper or discuss a book we've both recently read.  I want to sit next to my sisters during church and pass notes (or even just looks, because we actually can read each other's minds at this point) that crack us up so badly that that, even in our advanced age, get us pinched on that shoulder nerve by my mom. (Okay, maybe I am not ALL the way grown yet...)

And now, I love handmade things.  Few things beat a homemade gift in my book.  It just means so much to me when someone actually used their TIME and talent to show love for me.

And come to think of it, I really do want world peace...

"Is not wisdom found among the aged?  Does not long life bring understanding?"  -Job 12:12

Maybe it's wisdom that I am growing in as well as years?

Here's to hoping.