Sunday, March 29, 2009

Better You Never Thought You'd Hear Those Words in America...

Someone at church today asked me how Brent was doing. I said that we were both doing well and then found myself saying, "The orphanage has been good for us."

I think I gave myself social whiplash with that one.... Bet you never thought you'd hear THOSE words in America.

It has been good for us to throw ourselves into fund raising and trying to find ways to "make a buck" but for the kids - not for us.

I spent most of the weekend getting stuff packaged and pictures taken, etc to update the Etsy store. Please send the info about the store out to anyone you know that may feel like helping out some orphans.

We're working hard to get another couple of pallets of food from Feed My Starving Children so we can load up all the luggage for everyone in our group. It's not JUST rice - they've added protein and vitamins and minerals and formulated it such that, even if they only eat this stuff once per day they'll get everything their little bodies need.

How crazy is it that we can deal with phrases like 'even if they only eat once per day". Haiti wouldn't know what to do with a "Super Value Meal" or a drive through or a vending machine or a Costco.... We're so blessed. So very, very, very, wastefully blessed.

We also have the lia sophia parties coming up in a couple of weeks with those proceeds going towards the generator.

We're hearing good things from the mom doing the "Pennies by the Inch" at her local elementary school.

Little by little - a paper at a time, a signature at a time, a form at a time, a penny at a time.... that's how things work in Haiti. That's how we're going to get our children home. That's how we're going to keep them fed and healthy until then.

Line upon line....

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Another Post on a Saturday

Brent's brother and his wife had a yard sale today and they're donating all the proceeds to the orphanage. They clean out the stuff they no longer want and we're a few hundred closer to the generator and food supplies we need to take to the O on our June trip.

The adoptive parents can't do everything the O needs by ourselves but with everyone working together we can make a difference.


My dad's surgery went well. The doctor says they removed the tumor "down to bedrock". He's home from the hospital and doing well. Thank you for your prayers.

We booked our flights for Haiti last night. Can not wait to see my babies again!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

They May Not Remember What You Said, but They'll Never Forget How You Made Them Feel

Update to the Trudge Boy story - particularly my recollection of the night my big brother snuck out of the house. Here's what she says:

It was the local town police that were called, and he came home with his friends. The officer who stopped them gave him the option of riding in the cop car, or going straight home...
When the car pulled up in front of the house, every light was on, and the front drapes were wide open, and Mad Momma watched him get out of the car, which then disappeared into the night so quickly, one wondered if it had really been there!
To my defense, I didn't call the police until I had gone to the house where the 'party' was supposed to be, and got that boy's parents out of bed. Since they could offer no suggestions, I came home and called DAD, who was on military training at the time. THAT'S where the idea for calling the police originated...don't mess with DAD!
I'm not sure what my options would have been if we weren't living in a small farming community at the time, where I knew most of the police force. I give them credit for being understanding of my concerns.
And, I will be forever grateful to the neighbor who heard and saw the Great Escape and was willing to call and let me know!
So, now that I read that, I can remember that Mom did leave and go to the house. I think that might be why the whole event stuck with me - I think she had to wake me up to tell me that she would be back (since Dad was gone and Matt was gone. I would have been 12 or 13, I'd guess). I must have been so worried that the police would arrest my brother that I remember it with a squad car! :)

It's interesting how the emotion of the event carries over and cements it into your mind a certain way. That made me think about the saying you often hear about how people will "never forget how you made them feel". That's true of events, words, actions. Emotion can convince you of a lot of things. Emotion can make you think that David Cassidy is worth plastering all over your bedroom ceiling (like my aunt did). When you mix emotion with the other events amazing things happen. That concept is what makes you love your 3rd grade teacher even decades later. It's what made you think your great grandma's house smelled "magical" when the adults probably thought it smelled like "an old lady house". It makes you smile every time you hear a song by Stevie Wonder.

My Poppa is having surgery today - they think he has bladder cancer. You're in our thoughts and prayers, Poppa. We hope and pray all is well.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Like Food for the Starving....

We received update pictures today. We don't get those very often - I think this is the 4th time in the 18 months we've been at this.

It makes me feel a bit like a crime scene investigator. I pour over the pictures, looking at every single pixel, trying to soak in every detail I can from these precious pictures.

Nate looks like they woke him up from a nap for the event. His face is kind of like, "You're doing what?? I was sleeping, man." But look at those lips and the lashes and brows that are all over the place.... sigh... love this little man!

The update says that Nathan's mood is "generally good". That's because this child can throw a world-class hissy fit! Oh, baby!

Jessica's update says she is "good natured. Happy!". That's a big change from when they called her The Screamer. It says she loves the singing time that the preschool teacher does with the children. I can just picture her clapping and singing along. Sigh...

Just 80 more days until our next trip. Please let it pass quickly!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Adventures of Trudge Boy, Episode VI: "Is That a Threat or a Promise?"

I was on my way home yesterday. I turned off the main road and onto a side road on the last leg of my trip home.

Ahead of me I could see there was a car on the side of the road with its hazard lights flashing. As I got closer, I realized it was a brand new vehicle. It made me curious about what would be causing it problems already. When I got closer still, I realized it was actually moving down the side of the road at about 2 MPH.

And that's when I saw him.

There was a boy walking along in front of the car with his fingers laced behind his head, his elbows pressed up around his ears and his eyes cast toward the ground.

He was trudging.

"Oh, sweet friend," I thought. "Apparently you have been blessed with one of those rare mothers that actually MEANS what she says. Let me guess... you didn't believe her when she said if you touched your sister 'one more time' you were going to be walking home. Am I right?"

Trudge Boy needs to learn to pick up on some context clues, I'd bet.

Prior to the car actually being pulled over, his mom probably used the "I don't care who started it - you're going to finish it!" line. Or maybe it was the ever popular, "I'm not going to tell you again." Or how about, "She's younger than you. You need to be the more mature one and let this drop."

Yeah, I've heard it all before. Trudge Boy probably wouldn't believe it, but I actually spent 18 years of my life as a full-time professional child. I've been in a semi-retired state for the last 17 years or so. I know what I'm talking about here. I have been "in the thick of thin things". I know what it's like to be "grounded to within an inch of your life" and I lived to tell the tale! (I really don't know what that phrase means in general but in my childhood home it indicated Mom meant business!)

Maybe Trudge Boy is the oldest in his family and didn't have someone going ahead of him - blazing the trail. I'm the 2nd oldest in my family and my older brother did some blazing for the rest of us. Like the time he snuck out of the house after Mom told him he couldn't go to a party and Mom called the Highway Patrol and he was brought back home in a squad car. Yeah.... that was one of those times when the rest of us kids were sitting back and taking notes. "Note to self: Don't mess with mom!"

(Which reminds me that I don't think I ever properly thanked my brother for "taking one for the team" now and again. Probably saved the rest of us from some things. He's a good brother.)

Trudge Boy, you weren't cursed with one of those weak mothers who talks and talks but never does anything. Your mom is a woman of action. She's a woman you can follow. She's a woman you'll appreciate more as you grow up. Who knows, you might even thank her one day.

So, for future reference, Trudge Boy... watch for the clues. The "Don't make me pull this car over" is a warning shot across your bow, as it were. That means Mom has designated the entire vehicle as a "no fly zone". You'd best pay attention from that moment forward. Watch for the white knuckled fingers on the steering wheel when there isn't traffic around. Watch for that vein in the side of her neck - that's always a big indicator.

And for heaven's sakes if you haven't learned it yet, write it down and commit it to memory: "Don't mess with Mom".

You can thank me later.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This Could Be Why International Politics Are So Difficult.....

Thanks to everyone who voted on my little poll there. The vast majority of people do not expect the blog author to respond to comments or the figure that the author will mention something in their next post if they do need a response. That makes me feel better because of my time constraints.

If you know me at all, you know I love to have a "little kid story" to share. This one comes from a coworker. He was teasing his boys about the terms of exasperation they use like, "Oh my gosh" and "oh my heck". So he started listing off all these things that they say or could say... when he got to "Gee Willikers" his oldest said, "what does that mean, Dad?"

D piped up and said, "Dad's speaking Spanish and since we're not Italian we can't understand him."

Yeah... that's what I was going to say, I think.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fundraising Updates

I don't think I remembered to tell you about fellow adoptive mommy, Julie. Last week, Julie had a fundraising dinner for their adoptive process. They are adopting three beautiful brothers from Haiti. As part of her efforts, Julie ordered a dozen of our T-shirts and resold them at her dinner. So she made a donation to our O, and then used the product to raise money for her own adoption! Very thoughtful and clever!

She posted today about their "Mr. Pig" fundraiser - they've placed piggy banks in local businesses with information about their boys so that people can put in some change if they feel inspired to help.

Another adoptive mom from our O is doing a "pennies by the inch" effort to raise money for the orphanage. If you're not familiar with "pennies by the inch" here's a brief synopsis. A local children's hospital uses to raise funds. Primary Children's Medical Center does a lot of research into birth defects and provides a lot of charity care to ill children. I can remember the "Pennies by the Inch" drives in our elementary schools when I was a little girl. The idea was that you donate one penny for every inch of your height - as kind of a remembrance that you were born healthy and then those pennies are were used to research and provide medical care to other kids that weren't born healthy. Every kids can grasp that. It's easy to come up with some spare change, and it was fun as a kid to figure out my height and count out the pennies. I've always been tall, so that was one of the few moments that made it worth always needing to stand on the back center of the class picture! So this mom is taking the concept and adapting it to help the kids help other kids that don't have families to live with. I think it's fabulous!

The biggest fundraiser idea for our orphanage is one that I'm SO VERY EXCITED ABOUT!! If you're a regular reader, you remember when I was reunited with my childhood best friend, Emily a few months ago. Emily came to me with a way that she wants to help our kids to get a generator. Emily is an area advisor with lia sophia jewelry. People will host parties where guests can order this fun jewelry and Emily does a short presentation about the product. So here's where this gets amazing.

Emily has agreed to come up here (she now lives several hours away) and help us do some parties and Emily will donate her ENTIRE COMMISSION from all the sales to the orphanage. That works out to about 30% of the each sale! She'll also set up some web links for us so that people that are out of state can order product and the commission will still go to our orphanage. April is also a special discount month for lia sophia, so if you buy two items at full price you four more items at half price (the half price items are always the highest price items, as opposed to what you usually see where the half price items are the cheapest items.) So you can find a friend, and go in together and get some fabulous and unique pieces and you'll be helping the best little orphanage on the planet at the same time!! You could plan now for Christmas and get some great deals! Mother's Day is right around the corner!

It's so amazing to me that Emily offered to do this all on her own. It had seriously been years since we'd seen one another. It goes to show what a fabulous person she is. She's so excited to help our kids to have power.

We're going to be doing a few parties the week of April 9th. Watch for updates and web links as it gets closer!

Thank you to everyone who is working and praying to get these kids home and keep them fed and healthy in the meantime!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Everyone Is the Same Amount of Important"

It was a horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad day. Clients making all sorts of requests and I felt like it was all waiting on me. I hate being the bottleneck to processes.

Then I started getting discouraged about how the progress on our paperwork seems to have flatlined and no one is saying anything. Sometimes I just want to scream and say, "Just tell me if this whole adoption thing needs Last Rites! Don't let me keep hoping if this is never going to happen!"

Today was one of those days where I feel like throwing a temper tantrum and putting the Lord on timeout until He gives me what I want. "There! Let Him take THAT!! See how much HE likes it! That'll teach Him!!"

That's what I'd call "less effective".

Then I had a chance to chat with a good friend tonight and found myself realizing how blessed we really are. I was reminded that "everyone is the same amount of important." :)

I have a car, air conditioning, a husband who can do anything, a country that lets me work to help provide for my family without fearing for my life, the freedom to worship how I feel I should, the ability to vote, and vending machines. Will miracles never cease?? I don't even want to imagine what would happen if there were somehow vending machines in Haiti. Rioting! That's what would happen.

We have family members who support us and our babies. They hold yard sales and donate proceeds to the O. They make crafts and donate them to the store for the O. They pray for us. They help us get them home.

I don't know why we have to go through this. I don't know why it seems that the very powers of hell are combined to see that these adoptions don't happen. I don't know why we seem to have an indefinite "gestation" period to get our babies here.

I think it's really easy to feel like God only loves us if we get what we want in this life. But if that were true, then what would that mean for the Gracies of the world? Is she somehow "less important" because her whole life was a trial? Was her life "worth it"? I think about her a lot. I don't think she had any idea how much she was teaching other people.

My thoughts keep coming back to the fact that I either believe that "the Lord never cheats anyone", or I don't. It can't be "the Lord doesn't cheat most people" or "usually the Lord doesn't cheat people" or "if the Lord likes you he won't cheat you." The Gospel is either true or it isn't. This whole "earth life" thing is either for our own good or it isn't. There aren't gray areas. So when I start to feel cheated or when I still feel cheated, what am I missing? What else is happening that I'm not seeing or refusing to see?

So, rather than "taking my toys and going home", I think I'll try to take a minute to remember how awesome it is to have electricty... that my friend's premature baby is healthy... that they can operate on Poppa's cancer... that I can see colors... that other adoptive parents see Champagne Cola in the store and think of us...that my friend can go to Haiti with us next time... that my husband puts up with me... that I have a job...that even though there are people who are mean and ugly and do rotten things there's still a point to all of this and that IN THE END, we'll get what we desire.

Jessica and Nathan are some pretty amazing little souls. I can't wait for you all to meet them.

In the meantime, thanks for praying that we'll keep holding on.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yes, Officer. I Did Pack My Own Bags

I promise, he climbed in here by himself.

WHY can't we just bring them home?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Marching, Marching....

Thanks to Mare for these pictures of the kids marching around on the patio. This was the last morning and we were waiting for the trucks to arrive to take the kids back to the orphanage and take us back to the airport. It's a surreal experience - waiting for the dream to end and wondering when all of this will be over for real and you'll be able to take them home instead of just playing house at a hotel for a few days at a time.

At church today, someone asked if we'd had any update on our papers. Now this woman actually created her own family through adoption. She had not one, not two but SEVEN placements fall through in the process of getting the two children she adopted. Her children are grown now, but she's one of the few people who actually knows how hard this process can be and who knows what it feels like when you get your hopes up then dashed and you have to start over again and again.

I explained that our papers hadn't moved since November and that we probably had another year until we get to bring them home. It used to be that Haitian adoptions took 12-18 months. The kids that have been coming home the last few months were in the process for 2.5 years on average (based on my own checking - that's not anything published or "official"). She looked at me and said, "you know I think all of this is part of Satan's plan to overthrow the family. If things can drag out for an unknown length of time for "political" reasons than more people will be discouraged about adopting and they'll be less likely to do it. Think about how much frustration and discouragement that must bring to the adoption process".

I'd never really thought about it that way before. She's right though... few things have made me want to give up like this adoption process has. THOSE feelings certainly aren't consistent with the peaceful, strong, building feelings that I'm used to with things from God. I know families are ordained by God. This process, however - that's all the work of men. Someday, we'll get through the "politics" and onto the building of forever families.

Until then... we keep marching!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bird is the Word

I was shocked by the outpouring of response from my last post. All 4 of my readers flooded my inbox with questions. Thank you to all four of you for your interest.

A few answers:
1. The duck was not injured in the aforementioned story.
2. "Ben" didn't "duck" because he was driving. Safety first, people! Safety first!
3. Savvy reader and fellow adoptive mommy, Melissa sent me this story and pointed out there may perhaps be strange things afoot at the Circle K....

Eagle Survives Crash Through Semi-truck Windshield

Perhaps there's a bird "underground" and they're slowly working to take things over - one vehicle at a time.
The best part of the story was the part where it said "The guys in the truck immediately bailed out because it was one ticked off bird. She was pretty feisty. Even the officer who responded didn't want to go in there so we had one of our wildlife biologists do it."

Yeah... that beak and those talons.... MUCH worse to get in your eyeball than "duck gunk".

My dear friend, Tia, (who is going on the next trip with us to Haiti) had a seagull smash her windshield one day while driving to work. I know... "what's a seagull doing in Utah". We all wonder that. It is a landlocked state and all, but we do have the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere and the seagulls did play a very big part in the history of the state of Utah. I guess they came for the lake and stayed for the crickets.

So, I suppose it is possible that when you group all these things together with the recent water landing on the Hudson that there could be a plot at work with our fair feathered friends.

Or that whole conspiracy theory thing could be for the birds....

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One Too Many Hits In the Head with a Duck

First of all, thank you for all the kind comments. I love comments. It means people are actually reading this and that means that people are aware of the orphanage and what we are trying to do.

Also, for some reason, it cut off my last line of my last post. I fixed that.

I try to break it up a bit and include something to make you laugh every once in awhile. It's depressing to think about what you don't have every day and to wonder if your kids are being fed. MUST... DO.... FUNDRAISERS..... but back to something funny.

Today I remembered a weird experience from a few years back at work. I was trying to train a replacement person on several processes that were fairly complicated. I'd written out pages and pages of explanation with step by step instructions for everything. Management had identified the person they felt should take over these items and I began the process of training this person. Let's call him, Ben, shall we?

After several days of going through everything step by step and reviewing and reviewing and training and retraining.... it became apparent that Ben wasn't picking up much. OK, he wasn't getting anything. It was like every review was a brand new discussion that didn't relate to anything we'd discussed previously. While living that way may make every day seem like a new adventure, it's a lousy skill to have in someone you're supposed to be training. I was beginning to suspect that Ben was not the sharpest cheese in the fridge, if you know what I mean.

I went to the manager that had selected BennyBoy for the job. I said, 'You know, I've spent about 30 hours with Ben on these first items and he's just not getting it. He's asking the same questions day after day. He isn't retaining things and I don't think he understands the concepts of the business."

She looked at me, sighed, and said,
'You know, I just don't think he's been the same since he was hit in the head with that duck."
I waited for the punchline. There wasn't one. She wasn't kidding.

"I'm sorry... did you say 'hit in the head with a DUCK'??"

"Oh," she said, "you haven't heard this?"

"No... I'm QUITE certain I'd remember a story involving someone being struck in the cranium with a waterfowl. Please, go on."

Apparently, several months prior BennyBoy was driving on a backroad on his way to work one day. He had the window down and was enjoying the morning breeze. Suddenly, a full grown duck flew in the driver's side window and smacked into the side of his head.

I'll let that visual image soak in for a minute......

He had to pull over to get the duck out of the vehicle. And apparently he got some sort of "duck gunk" in his eye that caused an infection and apparently that led to other things (which may possibly include the inability to retain information after you've had it explained to you twenty times, based on what this boss was saying.)

So, you tell me... which is the best part of this story? a) the fact that he was hit in the head by a duck or b) the fact that several months after the fact, his boss was still using that to "explain his poor performance".

Personally, I just like to say, "Sounds like one too many hits in the head with a duck" every once in awhile. It amuses me. Even if I'm the only one around.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Butterflies and Hurricanes

People keep asking if they recognized us when we got there. That moment looked a little like this: Miss Jess was hysterically crying and Mr. Nathan was just warming up for some good tears. fortunately Papa came and Mr. Nathan was fine. Papa is Nathan's version of a security blanket. (I can't blame him. I like to be held by those same arms.)

I've been watching all the videos over and over again. By the time we go back again in June, Jessica will have a whole lot more words to say. We'll miss her transition from "Di-Di-Da" to something closer to her name. I hope she'll still be singing and marching and happy. I pray desperately that they stay healthy and well. Nathan will be talking. And all of that in Creole.

It's been about 18 months since we received Nathan's referral. Oct 1, 2007. People hear that we'll be going to visit them again in June and they say, "You really don't think they'll be home by June??"

"No...", I tell them. "We still have about a year." That's always my answer.

Some people bother to stop and listen and find out about Haiti and why it takes that long. Most people just move on with their day and probably don't think about it again until the next time they see us.

Haiti is always on my mind. My babies in Haiti, specifically. Are they happy? Did Nathan get over the gunky cough he had in his chest? Do they think of us? What DO they think of us? When will we all be home, in this little house, in this quiet little street, snuggled on the couch together.

How many more months? I wish I knew. It takes as long as it takes. It is what it is. In the meantime, we try to find ways to do fundraisers for the orphanage. And we dream about the next time we're together.

A friend was just discussing a major life event that she has longed for but it has not yet come about. She said something about, "If I just KNEW that it wouldn't happen, then I think things would change for me and I wouldn't be so discouraged with this constant waiting." So I've been thinking about that process as well. We have to have hope. We must. But hope without faith is pointless.

Someday.... someday.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I'll Take "Social Whiplash" for $200, Alex!

How to determine if your client is a redneck in three easy steps:

Step 1: Ask client for an update on the very pregnant woman in the office. (For example, "did Kristin have her baby?")

Step 2: Client says: "You know, I thought she was going to calf this weekend, but she didn't."

Step 3: Draw conclusions. (Note: Pencil and paper are not needed for this step.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

E.T. Never Had It So Good....

My sister is hilarious. My family in general cracks me up. This is the latest from my sister's blog.

By way of background, Z is pregnant. She also has a dog named "Bug". But Bug also answers to ALL of the following names:

Buglas McArthur
Chin Chin (that's her "panda name" - because every black and white dog needs a panda name)
Fatty Patty Steve

Yes, she really will come if you call her General Buglas McArthur. I think it's awesome.

So here's her post. Enjoy!

This post is about a Rat Terrier who is lovingly nicknamed Fatty Patty Steve. She ate a bag of Reeses Pieces yesterday. Not a normal size bag you buy in the checkout at the grocery store - she ate a good portion of the "I'm cheating on my wife, Jenny Craig, with a mistress named Reese's" gluttony size bag. Then barfed said contents of bag all over me and the bed. I know I have a warped sense of humor but I thought the whole situation was HILARIOUS! A quick shower and 2 loads of laundry cleaned up the mess but Louise was still sick. She was up most of the night puking (in the backyard) and laying in a heap on my lap. Moaning.

Between Barfy the Amazing Vomit Dog, a 25 week old fetus with tiny fists of fury, and heartburn that could choke a Marine... I didn't get much sleep.

If only I could teach my dog how to do this:

I think someone should make bumper stickers that say:

I'm cheating on my wife, Jenny Craig, with a mistress named Reese's.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ah, 'Weet!

Thanks to my fellow adoptive mommy, Mare, for these pictures.

Miss Jess looking ready for the Swimsuit Competition:

Little Man needs to be by his Daddy... These pictures describe things very well. He was very interested in what Harry's son was doing in this picture, but not interested enough to lose contact with his Daddy.

HAND... MUST.... STAY.... HERE....

While it looks like he's crying on Daddy's shoulder, he's most likely snuggling into Daddy's shoulder for his "Once a Minute" hug. Nathan will put his cheek on you and say "Awww....". Once he gets his "fix" he's ready to play again.

Love my boys!

Can't wait to see my babies again. We heard the first whisperings of dates for the next trip today. Looks like it will be the 13th of June, which is 103 days from now for those of you playing along at home.

Welcome to Everglades National Park........

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Playing Games - I'm a happy girl!

It's easy to see why we love this little girl. We play a lot of games, particularly variations on Peek-a-Boo. There are a few things about this video that I find endearing.

I love the scrunchy face as she's trying to get a better look at the fingernail she wants to bite off of MY finger! That's about the 1:00 mark. I love that she's more interested in chewing on my finger than in the game and so she just starts saying "Papa" to everyone. And then I adore when she starts calling for Papa and is looking for him, but then when she sees him and she smiles......and then breaks out in a happy little clapping song that she always does. She loves to do this while marching around the room. Just clapping and and singing and smiling. I wish i knew what she was singing.

Jess, you're the oldest, even if only be a few months. Take care of your little brother until we get back, Sister. He needs lots of loves. Can you make sure you give him a hug once in a while?

I can't wait to see you dancing and clapping and happy again!!

We love you Miss Jess and Little Man!

Love, Mommy and Daddy