Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sale Yards, Walls, Money, Support

It's been an interesting weekend so far! Yesterday we had the yard sale (or "Sale Yard", as my friend's son calls it) at the Event Center in Taylorsville and the neighborhood had a yard sale for the orphanage as well.

The one at the Event Center was a ton of work - we had a U-haul and trailers and had to get everything from Eagle Mountain and Heber and Lehi up to the Convention Center. I think the crowd was significantly less than the 4K they projected. After the first date was cancelled for rain, they scheduled it for Memorial Day weekend and I think that really hurt the crowds. There were always a few people going through, but it wasn't "packed" like it was supposed to be. We ended up with mostly "small ticket items" - clothes and books and VHS tapes.

People were so fascinating to watch. And it was amazing to watch what people were interested in which items and when they would haggle over a $.25.

The funniest thing that happened to me was probably the couple that bought one of the "Hope for Little Angels of Haiti" T-shirts. The husband wanted one, so I got his size and put it in a bag and handed it to him. His wife gave me the money and then she said to me, "Now, can I wear this to work?"

I looked at her like, "How on earth would I know that?" and she still wanted an answer from me, so I said, "Sure! Why not!"

She said, "Yes! Oh, good!"

Her husband said, "Why are you asking that lady if you can wear this to work?"

And she said (wait for it), "Well, I wanted to know because we're not allowed to wear T-shirts to my work. But it's OK. She said it would be fine."

Her husband said, 'Honey.... this IS a T-shirt." and they walked away as he was trying to explain the finer points of what makes a T-shirt to his lovely, oblivious bride.


My neighborhood also had a yard sale for the orphanage. And I KNOW it was a ton of work, even if they didn't haul things to other counties. I am sad that we weren't able to be there because we'd already committed to be at the E-Center sale, but Jessica pulled things off with flying colors. I haven't spoken to her yet, but I can see from the comments from my neighbors on Facebook that it was "huge", "amazing" and that Jessica raised $1200 for the orphanage! (That, by the way, is the exact same amount we raised at the E-Center sale. Pretty impressive! My neighborhood is awesome!!)

I'm so touched by the outpouring of support! Jessica does so much for everyone else. I've mentioned before that her husband is away "playing soldier" (as my dad would say) and she's got her own busy family and home to run in his absence and she still finds time to take care of her neighbors and friends. She's a wonderful, caring, dynamic woman and we're very lucky to have her for a neighbor! Thank you, Jessica!

Speaking of soldiers, the Vietnam Traveling Memorial was in Ogden yesterday. It's a smaller-scale replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C. My father is a Vietnam Veteran and my mom's brother was killed in Vietnam. That memorial has a special place for me and my family.

When I was 19 I was able to travel to Maryland to meet up with my dad, who was out there on business, and we spent a week together seeing the area of the country where I was born (military brat born on Ft. George G. Meade in Maryland). We were able to go to The Wall on one of our days in D.C. and I was able to touch Uncle Niel's name and make a rubbing on it for myself. I know I'll never really understand what it was like for Niel, for my dad, for any of the thousands and thousands of veterans who gave or risked their lives in this and other conflicts, but I'm so grateful that they are willing to serve.

The way I see it, the United States of America is the "cool big brother" that all the other nations wish they could be. We have so much. We've been given so much. I believe that we have a global and eternal responsibility to our brothers and sisters. We're supposed to watch out for everyone smaller than us. I believe that God will hold us accountable for the things we could have prevented and didn't, for the burdens we could have lifted but ignored, for the wrongs we could have tried to right and allowed to occur. That doesn't mean that I agree with everything that has happened in these wars. Of course I don't. It would be fabulous if people could be reasoned with over a table and the evil dictators of the world would recognize the wrongs of their ways and play nicely with each other.

Unfortunately, that's not how people work. "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." Card Carrying Members of the Evil Dictators' Club will always be Card Carrying Members of the Evil Dictators' Club. Sometimes people are evil and sometimes it does take force to try to purge evil or prevent that evil from spreading.

But enough of my soap box...

The point is, my brother and his wife took their kids to Ogden with my parents yesterday. My mom was able to show them Niel's name. My dad was able to point out the names of men he knew in Vietnam. They showed them Niel's medals. They explained why he was there and why he was killed. They told them that Niel was a medic and that he was on the front lines and had gone to try to recover another wounded soldier when he, himself, was shot and killed. They showed them Bobby Shelton's name - the soldier Niel was trying to save. They made the names real. They gave them flesh and soul.

A reporter from the Ogden paper was there and snapped this picture of my niece, Romy, touching Uncle Niel's name with the roses they'd brought to leave for him.

I look at this picture and I see her face trying to puzzle out all the things she's been told and trying to reconcile the tears on her grandma's face with the small, stiff letters spelling out "Niel B. Riggs". She may not "get it". But it touched her and she's trying to make it a part of who she'll be. I see the reflection of my mother, behind Ro, supporting her, guiding her, holding the box of Niel's medals. And I think, "THAT is what it's all about. Those who travel this life are to do their best to make things better for those that follow. Whether they teach, or nurture, or build, or defend, or sacrifice. That is what we've been asked to do."

That is what God expects from us as nations and families and individuals - that we watch out for each other. Even when we've passed, there is still an influence of our works as we are reflected in the lives of our children and our grandnieces and our neighbors and the orphans in Haiti that we may never meet, but whose lives we have made better. Our presence, our legacy... is in that support. It's in what Niel means to me. It's in what the Wall represents. It's in my mother teaching my family. It's in the image of my father in his uniform. It's in Jessica having a yard sale for babies that she won't see for many, many months but whose mouths she is feeding now.

This? This is good. This is right. Thank God for America and for the freedom to be and do and support to the best of our abilities.

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009


There have been a lot of tears today, but not for the reasons you might think.

My brother, Brian and his wife called us last night to tell us that they're expecting in December! Very exciting news - they're such a cute couple together and I think they've been good for each other. I know they've both wanted this a long time and I'm thrilled for them. They'll be awesome parents.

My baby sister is getting closer to her due date. Baby Rocco is due while we're in Haiti and I'm sad that we might not be right there for the birth, but we'll be swooping in to shower him in hugs and kisses as soon as we're back home. Interestingly, Rocco is the first biological nephew on either side of the family for us. Maybe Brian and Paige will have a little boy as well.

The big tears came this evening as I was getting some Etsy orders ready to ship. A very sweet woman from Brent's work crocheted two beautiful baby afghans for us to sell on the store. I was packaging the sweet pink one today to ship it off to the buyer in WV, when I noticed that she'd sent me a note on the order. Tears came to my eyes as I read these words:

This blanket is a gift for a baby, due in September, who is not likely to live long after birth due to a terminal congenital condition. Although her parents have baby clothes and blankets that belonged to their two older children, they want this baby to have clothes and a blanket of her very own. I offered to buy any Etsy baby blanket they wanted for $30 or less, and the mother chose this one.

Thank you for making and selling this blanket, which will help the family during this difficult time. They're still trying to decide on names. In the meantime the baby is known as "Angel".

It's amazing how we touch each other. We never know when we're going to be just what someone - even a total stranger across the country - might need to hear.

Tomorrow we're having the big yard sale at the sports arena in SLC and then my sweet neighbor has put together one in my very own neighborhood - all to support these babies in Haiti.

21 days until we're there again. 21 days until I kiss their sweet cheeks.

But I can be grateful they're alive, well and healthy today. Thank you to sweet Angel for reminding me that I have been richly blessed.

The Poor Man's Jedi Mind Trick

On the way back to lunch from work the other day, one of my coworkers whipped out his camera phone and snapped this gem on a car we were passing.

I'll explain a bit - The left turn signal was flashing. Blue painter's tape makes an "X" over the turn signal, and then next to that are the letters "I-G-N-O-R-E", also crafted from blue painter's tape.

Apparently the turn signal is broken and he doesn't want everyone to think he's changing lanes on them but he also doesn't want to take the time to fix it. Little Jedi Mind trick action with the painter's tape. "You do not see this flashing turn signal."

I wonder if it works on policemen as well...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

25 days 'til we leave again.

I've been wondering a lot what the kids will be like. What will Jessica be able to say this trip? What have we missed in the last 5 months? Will Nathan be talking? Will he still want a hug every minute? Will they remember us?

This will also be our 2nd full trip with the same kids. Knock on wood and anything else you can find! Nathan came back to us the next to last day of the October trip last year. This will be our 5th trip and the 2nd time we'll have the same kids for two full trips in a row.

I dread the week before we go. It's like "until we're on the ground in Haiti and they're in my arms, anything could happen" (because everything has happened)

There are a bunch of people going on this trip. I actually kind of dread the large group. If you've ever seen how many people and their luggage they will force into one vehicle in Haiti, you'll understand. But the good news of so many people going is that we were able to order a 2nd pallet of FMSC rice. We have so many volunteers going that we needed more than a pallet to distribute out to everyone. Brent estimates that, if everyone packs what they're given, we'll get 1600 lbs of FMSC rice/soy mixture down there with this trip.

For those of you that aren't familiar with it - 1 serving of FMSC rice has all the vitamins, protein, minerals that a starving child needs for a full day's allotment of nutrients. It means that even if they only get to eat once per day, they'll be getting proper nutrition. It means that lives will be saved. It means that anything additional they're able to feed them will be "bonus" and not "basic survival". We've been very blessed that the wonderful angels over at Feed My Starving Children have been willing to provide us this product and that all the families and volunteers traveling have been so willing to pack it all.

I can't really explain what it's like to pack for Haiti - we take clothes for the kids. More than they'll need. Diapers. Snacks. Toys. We try to get everything we need for a week with two active, 2 year olds into one suitcase. It's our one shot to spoil them.

Then in another suitcase, we pack our clothes and start throwing in the FMSC rice. We tend to take a baggie of Tide down and wash clothes a couple of times because if we can wash some of our clothing to rewear it, then that means that much more space for rice for the babies. "Do I really need to do my hair while we're there? Oh... I can borrow Tia's blow dryer - one less thing to pack. Let's put rice where that would have fit. "

I'm also excited because we had some fabulous fundraisers this spring to help us get power to the Orphanage. We are doing a trial run this trip and we'll be hauling down a solar power unit. If we can get it to Haiti in one piece, and get it hooked up like we hope, then we can get some fans set up that they can move around to keep the kids cooler during the awful, hot and humid months. The kids get sick in the hot months and it's just miserable. Hopefully we'll be able to help a bit with that.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I'm the orange and white wing. Brent's in the red and green (or "Creamsicle and Watermelon" as our friends called it while they were filming for us).

Yes, we both went and it was completely AWESOME!!!

The best part was doing the wing-overs - watch the video....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thanks, Jessica!

Our sweet neighbor is putting together a yard sale for our orphanage. And we're not even going to be there because it's the same weekend as the big one at the E-center that we were already signed up to do.

Jessica's never met my babies. She has her own kids to take care of and her own household AND her sweet hubby is off being a soldier. And she still found a way to pull together things to help our kids.

I stand all amazed at people like Jessica.

Thank you for caring about our kids. Thank you for letting Haiti touch you enough that you DO something about it. Thank you for being you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Totally Did Not See That Coming!

People do some interesting, random, cool, bizarre, fascinating things. I love watching people and the way they interact. I don't mind layovers because I'm thoroughly entertained people watching in airports. People are awesome.

I saw a good one the other day. I was driving down a major road in downtown SLC. There was a marked mid-block crosswalk coming up and I could see there were people waiting on the median (not "medium", despite what people in UT say) for traffic to stop.

My car arrived first, so I stopped. The other two lanes in my direction followed suit. When traffic stopped I could see that there was an older gentleman (who could have possibly been homeless) waiting on the side of the road to cross the other way.

So I'm stopped - kids are crossing, Possible Homeless Guy is crossing. When Possible Homeless Guy hits the median he suddenly does this weird twisty thing, flips the double-bird right at me in my car and SCREAMS the Queen Mother of All Swear Words. Then he turns and resumes crossing like there was nothing at all unusual about that little maneuver.

What did I do, you ask? I did three things, really. . I burst out laughing. I immediately upgraded Possible Homeless Guy to Definite Homeless Guy. And I wondered why I'm always by myself when "people" happens.

Maybe I should get one of those police cameras installed on my car...

And did I mention it's 30 days until our trip!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I dislike Mother's Day.
OK. I'll be honest... I despise it with the fires of a thousand suns.... I loathe every little Greeting Card Industry/"Every Kiss begins with K" fiber of its being. I hate Valentine's Day for the same reason. It's just another reason for Walmart to change out their impulse displays. And I find it maddening.

And then there's the requisite Mother's Day Church Program. Normally I do OK in Church on weeks when the talks are all about families and motherhood and how wonderful it is. My little friend, Cymbalta, even makes it so that I don't sob embarrassingly loud at the unfairness of such things. I can watch other women getting pregnant and having babies and blessing those babies and know that it will never, ever be me. And I'm usually OK with that. Usually...

The speakers yesterday where some kind men in our ward. On of them was our dear neighbor who told about how very much he's in love with his wife. I am so proud of Rob for being willing to share his feelings. I was very touched by his words. Your wife is amazing and the two of you pull together a lot to get the family environment you have.

And then they had the Primary children sing and the female teachers sang the counterpoint to their song. :
Mother, tell me a story that I love to hear. Tell me of heaven and how I came here.
Tell how you love me and gently speak and then I'll go to sleep.

Child, I am here, can you feel that heaven is near? Sleep, sleep a love watch I'll keep to protect you through the night.
And it hit me, as we were up there singing in front of all my neighbors... it so completely sucks that I can't say those words to my babies. That I'm not there to protect them. That they're probably sleeping on the tile floor because it's cooler than their bunks. That I'm NOT there for them.

And you know, even when they do come home, I'll still hate Mother's Day and I"ll still ache for the unfairness of it all. How often does life actually turn out the way we plan?

Deep, cleansing breath... The Lord Never Cheats Anyone. The Lord Never Cheats Anyone. The Lord Never Cheats Anyone.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

No, Really... I'm Ironman!

I used to have super short hair.

One day I wore a scarf to work in my hair. When I went to lunch in the completely packed cafeteria that day, a woman that I didn't know came running up to me, calling my name very excitedly.

I started looking around to see if I was on fire or something... I honestly didn't know this woman and was concerned that she was so... excited... to see me.

"Lori!" she exclaimed. "Your hair!! It looks so FEMININE!! Not like it normally looks AT ALL."


So the next time I went to my stylist I relayed this little story to her and jokingly said that maybe we needed to mix things up a bit with my hair.

She looked at me and said (quite seriously), "Honey, it's not your hair. You need a boob job."


She's a good friend and I still think it's one of the funniest things anyone has ever said to me. I still laugh when I think about it.

I'm built mostly like a yardstick. The only curves in my figure are the ones from my scoliosis. On top of that, I'm not a "girly girl". I don't do much makeup and I can't spend more than $30 on anything without getting heart failure.

So, tonight while I was doing yardwork I was watching my little neighbor Kohl run around in his Ironman Halloween costume. He was having so much fun. It's a cute little costume - it even has a mask and sculpted "muscles".

That's about when it hit me that my Victoria's Secret Miracle Bras are the "grown woman" equivalent of Kohl's Halloween costume - just more expensive.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Promised Thoughts...

I mentioned that I'm teaching the Sunbeams (3 yr olds) in church on Sundays. It's a lot of work, but so fun. They have the most sincere thoughts about things. It's been fun to listen to them and learn from them.

I didn't mention that one of my Sunbeams has a lot of struggles. They think he has some form of autism, but are still doing testing. He's definitely in his own little world. He doesn't really verbally communicate and he doesn't respond if you speak to him. He seems to be oblivious about what's going on around him. Sometimes he wants to run around and, given that our class sits on the floor, it's a bit like watching Godzilla trample Tokyo. The other kids don't like being stepped on, obviously, and it's always a challenge to get him redirected as he often doesn't like to be touched.

Sometimes my autistic Sunbeam will actually let me pick him up. Sometimes it seems like he's aware that I'm someone who cares about him. Most of the time when you pick him up, he goes ballistic. He's freakishly strong. He starts kicking and he panics. You have to try to minimize the impact - no one likes to be kicked, but little Sunbeams cry when they get kicked. I've been kicked in the head a few times. I'm honestly not sure that he's always aware that you're not going to hurt him. It's been an interesting few weeks, but we're figuring each other out.

While all this has been going on in Sunbeams and my work has been wrapping up this large project, we've also had to acknowledge that we really have no idea when our babies will be home. I wrote that post about realizing we would never need the nursery in our home. The next day we got an updated time line for Haitian adoption from our agency.

See, every time a new director of one of their offices comes into play, they have to assert their power and add a few steps to things. They never "grandfather" in the existing files - they send every file back to get whatever is now missing. And the US side, in the interest of supporting Haiti's right to govern how they see fit, also send back pending files to get the new steps Haiti inserts. That's a high level explanation, but you get the general idea.

This isn't anything official, but the agency let us know that based on what they're seeing it looks like the average adoption is taking up to 28 months. They gave an outline of the current time averages it takes to process paperwork in each of the respective Haitian government offices, etc.

We know that our papers are still in the first office. We've known this for some months. Yes, we've been at this forever and yes, we got our referral Oct 1, 2007. You have to remember we lost our kids a couple of times and had to start over again. But basically, eighteen months into this the way things line up, we are on month 5 in a process that could possibly take 28 months. After all this time, we're still not any closer to getting them home. If I go off their ages now and add 23 more months as my possible time line, then my little Nathan, who was just 2 months old when we got his referral, would be nearly 4 before we got him home.

So I spent some time trying to process that and trying to deal with it (you could call it "having a pity party" if you'd like). You go through all the frustration at processes beyond your control and grief that your children are being raised by rotating orphanage caregivers - their formative years are forming in such conditions - and OURS is a GOOD orphanage. It's just still not where I would have them be.

A couple of days later, I was talking with a friend who is also grieving over some heartbreaking things in her own life. We were exchanging emails and discussing the situation. We started talking about what it means to have faith and to 'become as a little child', specifically

"becometh as a child,submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

and wondered together about what it means to submit to God's will on something so painful to you personally.

As we were talking (this isn't going to come out correctly), I could clearly see that sometimes, in many ways, I'm the autistic Sunbeam. I had this little image in my mind of the Lord trying to communicate to me and I'm so caught up in my little world that I miss it- completely oblivious to what He's trying to get me to learn. Sometimes I'm sure He's trying to comfort me and I'll bet that I've kicked him in the face a few times (if you know what I mean). I'm sure there have been moments where I'm a whirling dervish of "This adoption is never going to end" emotions, and God must be looking at me, rather like I was looking at my Sunbeam, with one eyebrow raised and wondering if I'll ever stop spinning long enough for Him to reach in and give some comfort.

We have such a limited view of things. I don't see what's going on in Haiti, but He's trying to help them answer their prayers as well. There are so many lives intertwined in this process. My perspective on this whole thing, when compared with God's eternal perspective.... I might as well be an autistic Sunbeam.

I know this is painful and I know it's an awful ordeal, but at the end of the day, the Lord Never Cheats Anyone. Those who seek, find. To those who knock, it will be opened. I have to trust that this is going to work out. Even if the process is being run by a bunch of us autistic Sunbeams, the Lord is still in charge.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sorry 'Bout That...

I didn't mean to cause any panic... the title of that last post is some song lyrics that seemed to fit how things are going for us lately. Things may be tough (dashboard's melted) but good will come out of it if you look for it (we've still got the radio). [I probably should have thanked Modest Mouse for the lyric, but that may have caused even more confusion because I'd bet most of you haven't heard of them.]

I promised I'd share some of my thoughts... I've been doing a lot of thinking the last few weeks. With the big (ginormous, really) project I've had at work, that's about all I've been able to do besides that project!

But first, some pictures because I made you wait so long for an entry!

These two are from October 2008's trip. Aren't they exquisitely beautiful children?

Nathan's giggling while Daddy blows on his belly.....

Apparently we're not allowed to marry them to each other, but they still look cute sleeping by each other and pushing their hands into the other's face. (I don't think that nurse had any idea I'd still be getting laughs out of her comment months later)
Brent's doing his paragliding anniversary present this weekend. I was so busy the last month that I didn't tell you when our friend, Tia, brought him over a package of Depends - "just in case he needs them for the paragliding flight". It was awesomely funny.

We also had some great help from Brent's company - they allowed us to have another shipment of FMSC rice delivered to their facility. Since part of what they do for a business is shipments they have the big docks that allow tractor trailers to unload really easily which helped to save us a bundle in the shipping cost to get it here.

And we had a family member of one of the adopting families offer to pay for the freight - so a blessing all the way around!

We also have received some nice financial contributions to the orphanage. It's so wonderful to see people willing to stretch themselves to help "the least of these, their brethren". I hope these children can feel how much they're loved by so many people in America.

Oh, and, if you wouldn't mind.... the husband of the sweet woman who has made so many of the donations for the orphanage's Etsy store was just laid off. She's made literally hundreds of cards and donated them to the orphanage as well as other items. If you could add them to your prayers. They've been doing so much for these kids and helping us to answer our prayers of being able to raise funds to keep them fed and healthy. It would be nice to share some prayers with them that they'll be able to find employment quickly.

Only 40 days til the trip!! Can't wait to kiss those little cheeks!!