Monday, December 31, 2012

My 5 Favorite Posts of 2012

If you want to get to know our family but don't want to read the hundreds (thousands?) of posts I've written over the past 5+ years, this sampling of posts from 2012 is representative of what you might get when you get to know us.

Mom pranks the kids. 

Nia's list of grievances.

Mangine Family Christmas Video.

Jacmel to Port (and back again).

Homemade Dominican Fantasy Photos.

Mangine 2012 Review: A Year in 36 Pictures

Enjoy a recap of pictures that represent just 36 of the 31, 622, 400 seconds in 2012.  
Some were highs.  
Some were lows.
And others were just somewhere in between.
But it's these kind of seconds that make up a family.












Thanks for all your support in 2012 and have a happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Third culture conversations that STILL blow my mind.

Josiah:  Mom I am SO excited about going to Amewica (that's how he pronounces it) tomorrow.

Me:  Me too, buddy.  What food are you most looking forward to eating? (Cause you know, with my food issues and all, it seems like a reasonable question.)

 Josiah:  (Shrugs his shoulders) I don't know, what do they have?

Me: What do they have?  (Incredulously) What do they have???  Everything. They have everything.  Like you can find whatever you want to eat there.

Josiah:  Like what?

Me:  Do you remember getting cheeseburgers at McDonalds?

Josiah:  Sort of.

Me: How about Chicken Nuggets?

Josiah:  What's that?

Me:  What are Chicken Nuggets?  Are you serious?  Josiah, they are like little chunks of meat that they bread and fry.

Josiah:  Oh I know!  Like the tassot (fried beef) at the beach.   They are made of cow, right?

Me:  No.  Chicken.  That's why they are called CHICKEN Nuggets.

Josiah:  Oh.  Then no.  I don't remember them.


How could this be my son?

Time to brush off the RULES before we land on US soil tomorrow...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christ was here.

Christ was here at our home these past few weeks. Let me back up.

On December 5 Haitian Social Services called us and asked us to take two girls in temporarily. One of them, Bertrude, was somewhere around 8 years old and was "rescued" by the police from a restavek situation. The other, Christela, 13, explained that she was with her aunt and simply got "lost" while in her hands. She'd been picked up by the police and then was in their custody for a while in Port Au Prince before Social Services brought her to Jacmel, which is the office closest to the zone where her family is.

Both girls are (theoretically) going back to their birthbfamilies. I am all for intact families whenever possible. However, I have a lot of mixed feelings about that in situations where children have been abused and enslaved because of the negligence of their parents. I feel like sometimes, in this broken, broken world, it just isn't possible to keep families together. To quote Amy Wilentz's, "Death is what poverty does to children." But I digress...

Bertrude was only with us for two days. But Christela has been here for a little over two weeks. She's scheduled to leave tomorrow at 2PM. Though she does come with some teenage girl drama, she's actually a really, really great kid. She's rough around the edges, but has been very cooperative and enthusiastic about her time here. And wow! The way my kids have welcomed her into our home has filled me with “swollen-up-with-mama-pride-tear-jerking moments”-- one after another. My kids have been so loving and accepting and full of generosity and grace.

The second or third day she was here, we were making Christmas cards with these nativity stickers a friend had sent down. Each kid wrote their name on the card they made and I noticed that Christela actually wrote her name broken into syllables, “Chris tè la.”

Or translated from Kreyol to English, "Christ was here."

And though she's leaving tomorrow, I can't help but think of what a timely gift Chris tè la has been to our family for this time she's been here. As we were doing advent devotions together as a family I would look around the room back and forth between at my kids-- my permanent kids (the kids tattooed on my arm)-- and Chris tè la. Her presence showed me so clearly these great contrasts in our relationships with our kids from where they were (physically, emotionally, spiritually) THEN to where they are NOW. That is something that often, in the thick of the long days of being a mother in a large family, I don't often get to see. I have been re-reminded about the scriptural precedent for adoption. I have been awakened afresh to the need for a Savior to come rescue us. And I have, once again, been marveled by the one true God who sent his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world when we were SO lost in our sin and transgression that we didn't even know how badly we need him. (And if I am going to be honest, I still don't even really grasp how much I need him.) But in spite of our ignorance, we were given this gift-- Christ was here. Here on earth. With us. In our desperate state.

Christ. Was. Here.

Join me in praying for Sweet Chris tè la. Tomorrow is the beginning of a lot of new transitions. Pray for her safety, her emotional security, for educational opportunities, her family, and for her uncertain future. Mostly pray that she will come to know the God that came down to rescue her-- the Christ that was here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Escape artist.

This morning Schneider crawled into our bed and woke Nick up.  (I was in the kitchen.)

When I heard him in there, I found that puzzling since he doesn't know how to get out of his pack-n-play unless it's up against another bed that he can climb onto.  And it wasn't.  So I returned with him to the scene of the crime...

Here's the same picture cropped for a closer view of the crime scene...

But don't worry, I know that it could present a big safety problem if Schneider just has free-reign of the house during the night if he escapes again.  So I solved it the way every mom of 12 kids would solve it.  I pushed the hole side up against the wall.  

Your move, Schneider...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Items we're collecting.

Nick and I are going to be back in the states after Christmas for almost 3 weeks. This time we don't have anything that we are scheduled to carry back with us-- which is odd, we usually have school supplies or Christmas presents or clothes or something!

However, we don't want to go back empty-handed since it's such a great way for us to get the supplies we need shipped down. Therefore, I am just going to give you a list of things that we currently can use in our home and if you have extra around your house (like if you're a hoarder/couponer ;), or if you want to add a couple of things to your grocery list to send down, these are the things we are looking for. Bolded items are more pressing needs.

Generic brands are fine with us. These are things that we usually do buy locally at the market, however, increases of market prices have raised our market shopping costs by at least $400/month. The more of this stuff we can get donated, the easier it will be for us to stay on budget in the coming months. Plus, the costs are generally higher here in Haiti for most of these items, and the quality/selection is better in the states. (This is because few things are actually made here, and so most stuff we buy is imported.) For example, V05 shampoo that we'd buy in the states for $.99 would sell for $2-3 here. Some things (like the acne pads) are not available here except for in import stores and would cost 4-5x what we'd pay in the states.

bar soap
face wash

acne creme/pads (acne is a new thing around our house that has arrived with puberty!)
Maxi pads

Body lotion
Gallon ziplock bags
quart ziplock bags
garbage bags

girls underwear (sizes M-XL GIRLS-- no adult sizes needed)
boys underwear (sizes M-XL boys-- no adult sizes needed)
pullups (largest size, for 8 year old boy and 11 year old boy)
boys medium and large socks (white-- no adult sizes needed)
girls medium and large socks (white-- no adult sizes needed)
AA batteries
AAA batteries
D batteries
Baby wipes
Perfume/Cologne (like from the dollar store)
Razors (can you believe that my three older boys are starting to shave?!?!)
Lamination sleeves (We already have the laminating machine)
Pencil sharpeners
Ibuprofen and Tylonel (the pills, not the children's)
Teenage/adult sized flip flops
Claritin allergy medicine (or generic)

We will be in the Triangle area from the 29 December to January 6. Then on the Outer Banks from January 6-13th. We could pick up from you at either place.

Thanks, y'all!

PS- We could also take Target or Walmart giftcards to buy some of this stuff before we leave.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Family is adoption. (Linking you to a must-see video.)

Nick and I have long held the value that family is chosen and permanent.

I had to link you today to watch this video.  It's so great and I resonate so deeply with the parents in this video who hold the same values--

"We're such victims of our culture because our culture tells us you have to look perfect and be in all the perfect schools and you just can't do that in a big family.  But if you just concentrate on what's important, the rest will follow."-  Sharon Dennehey

"It took me decades to figure this out, but there is no physical thing that you can buy that's actually going to give you true peace and happiness.  And the pure joy that will come from a rescue and ransom of a child's life if probably the most satisfying thing that you can imagine."- Michael Dennehy

Spend 6 minutes watching this video-- it's simply amazing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Promise fulfilled. FINALLY.

Wildarne's birthday was September 11.  While she did get a couple of other small gifts, her main birthday present was that we were going to take her to get her ears pierced.  However, LIFE in Haiti just doesn't always go according to plan and somehow, here we are on December 12 (over 3 months later) with no holes in her ears.

Today I finally carved out the time to take Willy (as I like to call her) to get her ears pierced.  I went along with a friend and so I didn't even mind that we had to wait over two hours.

These aren't the awesomest photos because I just had my phone with me, but you get the idea.

I love having this sweet girl in our family.  She looks like quite the young lady with pierced ears, doesn't she?

Monday, December 10, 2012

TCK fashion

Sarah and I spent about 20 minutes digging through piles of used clothing at the wharf market today to try to find some treasures.

She found this special number for Nia for 10 gourdes.  (25 cents.)  She brought it to my attention as kind of a joke, but I knew better.

Nia LOVES it.  Like, she LOVES it and is going to wear it out to Sarah's community Christmas party next week.

Perfect fit, eh?

Oh my gosh.  I love this kid so much it hurts.

Fun Andrew.

I have blogged many, many times about Andrew Brown.

Like here.  And here.  And here. And lots of other places too.

The short story is that Nick and I have been friends with him for over 10 years now and he's just this joy to everyone around him.  He's kind and smart and loves our family. Like our whole family. (My parents, Nick's parents, all our brothers and sisters. They all love him.  Seriously, he comes on family vacations with us.)  He's just the perfect friend because you can't NOT like Andrew Brown.  I literally know NO one who doesn't like him.  My friend Sarah has coined him "fun Andrew" because everyone always has so much fun when he's around.

He's really generous with the ways he helps care for the needs of our family.  He knows it's important for us to be able to be in touch regularly with friends and family and supporters in the states, and keeping us technologically up-and-running is a priority for him.  He works tirelessly and spends TOO much to that end. I was thinking yesterday that being friends with Andrew is like being friends with Jesus, because there's no way we could ever pay either of them back for what he gives us.

Andrew's been here visiting for just over a week.  He's leaving in just a few hours. I feel a major depression coming on after he leaves.  I don't know what it is, but MAN, it's like Nick and I become cool and fun again when he's around.

Thanks for all the laughs, Andrew.  You're a breath of fresh air for our often-asphyxiated family.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"Sing for Joy (in Hope)"

Some great friends of ours, knowing our love of everything having to do with the Christmas season, have organized this fundraiser for us.  I *WISH* we could be there.  BUT, you CAN be there!  PLEASE consider making some space to get together with your loved ones and spread the Christmas cheer and supporting Joy in Hope at the same time!

You're invited to Joy In Hope's first Christmas Caroling evening/fundraiser aptly titled - 
on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 6 pm 

Sing for Joy is a night of caroling, cookies and memories with your family!

Meet us at Crosspointe Church (Cary, NC) where we will start, make a donation to JIH, ($30 for families/couples and $10 for singles), get put into caroling groups with a caroling host, go to a nearby neighborhood for caroling and then return to the church for cookies and hot cocoa or coffee and some special time with friends.

Groups are welcome. Great idea to do together with your lifegroup or Bible study. If you would like to sign up for your whole group just email Deena and I will make sure you are together!

This is a fun way to spend time with your family and raise money for JIH. Space is limited so sign up as soon as you can!

Deadline for sign up is Monday Dec.10th

Registration is required. Please click on THIS link. Or, just email Deena at


I can't wait to hear about it!