Sunday, December 26, 2010

Nathan's First Christmas

Dear Sweetness,
It was so fun to see you enjoy your first Christmas.

On Christmas Eve morning, I was snuggling with you on the floor in front of the tree and I said, "Today is Christmas Eve.  What does that mean?" and you said, "1 more sleeps 'til Santa comes with toys for Nathan".

Christmas Eve afternoon, Aunt Titi and Collin came by.  You got out some of your favorite toys and shared with Collin (although it did require some coaxing to get you to "take turns" with Collin).  Mama told you that you were a good boy to share.

You've been a bit sick and so you're out of sorts if Mama doesn't stay right on top of your Tylenol.  Around bedtime, you were completely beside yourself - kicking and biting and yelling, "I not go bed".

In an exasperated, not so good Mommy moment I resorted to threats and said, "Well, if you're not asleep then Santa can't come.  Maybe he'll have to take your toys somewhere else."

Your eyes got hugely wide and you said, "But Mama... I take-a-turns wit Tollin!"

Good point... that must count for SOMETHING.

First thing the next morning, before your eyes were fully awake you said to me, "Mama, I take-a-turns wit Tollin, huh?"  You wanted to be sure that was going to outweigh the complete hissy-fit you'd had.  You sweet, sweet little boy.

Sure enough, there were presents under the tree.  We took our time and let you enjoy.  (You're not smiling in the pictures but trust me, you had a blast!)

You would have been happy with one present.  You were pretty overwhelmed with more than one present.  But Mama and Daddy have some missed Christmases to make up for, so you got more than one present.

I love you, Sweetness.

Thank you for making all merry and bright.

Team Hope Book Update

Hi, kids,
For those of you that care, I'm working on the Team Hope book.

The pricing with is such that I'm editing right now to try to cut it back to a reasonable amount.  I ended up with 200 pages and that's nearly $50 per book!  I've looked around at other options and there don't seem to be a lot of choices for "self-published" books with full color photos.

With if you want a copy you can order one.  I don't have to take orders and deal with all that jazz. And if you want hard cover you can do that and pay more - they take care of that.

I'm trying to get it down to under 160 pages (which is $39.95 for a soft cover 8 X 10).  Still a lot, but this is literally a once in a lifetime event.  (and all the money goes to  This isn't a fundraiser, if you were wondering)

I've taken articles and images from the Team Hope blog and added some pictures from Chareyl.  I'm trying to keep enough in there to capture what we were going through back home - not knowing what was happening with our children - and still tell the story of our friends like Harry and Guesno.  Hopefully it will be something you'll treasure.

Hope to have it ready to order soon.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas... War Is Over Now

Merry First Christmas to Nathan and the ~1,100 other Haitian children that came home after the earthquake this January!

We know now, from one of the older children, that the kids (at least at our orphanage) were told that "Santa doesn't like Haitians".  That's how they explained why there was never a Christmas to the older children.  These children never left the orphanage themselves but they are SMART kids and I'm sure picked up from the conversations of the adults that it was Christmas outside that concrete wall that blocked them from the rest of the world.  I'm sure they asked what this "Christmas" was and what it meant for them.  And, just as adults here in America use the story of Santa to add mystery and magic to the season, the adults in Haiti use the story of Santa to explain why there is no magic and mystery for them or their children.   These kids were essentially told that because of who they were, things could never be wonderful or magical for them.

I know, I know - it's a horrible thing to say to a child, but at the same time, I don't know how one explains to a child why everything in their life was difficult.  I'm also sure that many, many times they feel that God, Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the government, and their own parents hate them.  I don't know how else you reconcile the extreme "have nots" in daily life when you're dealing with THAT level of poverty.

Since our first trip to Haiti nearly 3 years ago I've wondered many times exactly how it is that I was born in America and have anything, can be anything, can buy anything, can dream and do anything I want while my brothers and sisters in Haiti and elsewhere in the world have to fight for every crust of bread.

Can you really have dreams for tomorrow when every day seem the same as the one before?

So for these children I say, as the song does, "Happy Christmas.... war is over now".

God bless America, families, and water you don't have to boil.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Angels Among Us

My Dear Miss Jess,
I miss you more right now than I have in all the gaping, missing heartaches I've had since you didn't get to come home.  You should be here with Nathan, being so excited that you have "one more sleeps" until Santa comes to bring you toys.  You should be marveling at the magic that suddenly comes this time of year and dusts the world with lights and scents and wonder.

I wonder so often why we both had to go through this - why we were led to you when we didn't get to keep each other.  I wonder if you remember us like we remember you.  I wonder if your heart aches, wondering why you're still in a situation where you don't get food regularly and you're not safe.

I haven't really posted about you since we found out that you weren't coming home.  Daddy tried again to find you in June when we went down and Harry tried again at the end of July.  We did hear at the first of the month that you're sick and in Haiti's version of the hospital.  I worry, I pray, I wonder.

It seems like you were an angel in our lives... a bright, happy, singing spot of joy that danced across our lives and hearts and then passed by like a comet that only comes every 1000 years and then disappears forever.

We've had tight finances for Bel Haiti this year.  It's a hard economy and it's hard for people to donate.  We're scraping the bottom of the barrel for the org right now.

When I chatted with Harry earlier this week, he said they needed money.  Haiti always needs money.  Sometimes it seems like there will never be enough and that no matter what we try it will never be enough.  Harry was trying to explain how he knows that we're busy with work and things here in America.  Sometimes things are a bit rough in translation.  The way it came out he said, 'I know you forget about us because you're more important than us."

That broke my heart.  I know that's not how he meant it.  I know that he knows we love him.  But on some level, he's right.  I don't do enough.  I get too busy in my day-to-day and days will go by when I haven't tried to do anything for Haiti.

This week, my dear friend  asked me if I'd received his Christmas present.  He said he'd made a donation to Bel Haiti.  When I checked the paypal account for the org, I found that he'd sent a overwhelming sum of money.  The note on it?  It said, "For Jess, with prayers of comfort".

My friend told me that, even though he's not a praying man, he still says a prayer for you every day, Miss Jess.  You changed my life.  You changed others' lives.  You remind me of all that's good in the world.

Maybe that's why we needed you.  Why we lost you.  So that the children left behind in Haiti would have a name, a face, a personality.  So I'd be able to remember that we do this for you.  For Harry.  For Nathan's birth mom.

I miss you today.  I miss you every day.  I wish I was your Mama and I wish you were home.  Instead I pray for your comfort, your health and your future.

I love you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Smosh It

My Dear Baby Boy,
We live about a block from our church.

Yesterday it took the two of us about 20 minutes to walk home.  Even though it was raining.  And even though it was only a block.

You were so excited to find every little spot of snow that the rain hadn't yet melted and "smosh it".  You'd find one and raise your foot over it and then look up at me and say, "Mama, I smosh it!" and then delightedly stomp on the snow.

There was also a small child crying during church. You turned to me and said, 'They not listen to their mother."  I'm so proud of you for realizing that it's good to listen to mommies.

This evening you finally caught on to what I've been telling you about Santa bringing you presents.  You said, "Santa bring me TOYS?  Santa bring Nathan choo-choos?"

I happen to have it on very good authority that yes, dear Nathan, Santa has a choo-choo for you.

You said that Mama should ask Santa for a train, too.  You said, "Mama need train too."  I love it when you say, "Mama, come play with me" and then we zoom your cars around or chase each other or color.

I told you it was just "a few more sleeps" until Christmas and you thought that was pretty cool.  It's so fun to see that you're finally excited about this tradition that has thrilled me my whole life.

I love you, Little Man.  Thank you for bringing the magic to Christmas this year.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

When Skies Are Grape...

My dearest Little Man,

You delight me every day.

Today you wanted to "stay with Mama".  I told you that Mama had to go to work and I said, "So what does that mean for Nathan?"

You sighed, resigned, and said, "I know... Nathan haffa go work at Jessie's" (that's his day care lady).

You sweet, sweet, little boy.

You've made up some of your own words.  For some reason, Divot (our Jack Russell) is a "Poh-la" and you think that's HILARIOUS.  You chase him around the house, yelling, "Stop, Poh-la!" and laughing your head off like a Munchkin on laughing gas.  Only Divot is a Poh-la - no one and nothing else - and Collin also thinks it's hysterically funny.

Sometimes I wonder if you're both cursing in Kreyol and wickedly giggling that we'll never be the wiser.

You also have decided that BobbyJones (our whippet) is a "Poke-lynn" (no idea what either of these mean, but they don't seem to be tied to anything I can find in Kreyol).

If you're having one of those toddler moments where your warp drive goes into meltdown and you're sobbing hysterically, I can usually distract you and get the tears to stop by asking you where your "Poh-la" is.  Your eyes get wide, and you stop and think, and then you say, "Poh-la?  Where Poh-la?" and all is again right in your world.

(And bless Divot's little neurotic heart for putting up with all the chasing and random "Poh-la" yelling.)

Tonight, we were reading "The Polar Express" together.  You love the trains in it.  You're so excited to see the trains in the pictures.  When we get to the point in the book where the little boy is sad because he's lost his gift, you say, "Oh no!  What wrong?  He loss hims bell?" and then you turn to the last page of the book (where there's a picture of the bell) and you happily proclaim, "There it is!"

We never seem to read the pages between the "sad boy" and the "there it is!" and I think it's awesome that you're so concerned about the little boy being sad.

I'm still trying to get you to be excited about Santa.  Tonight when we got to the page in the book where there is a picture of Santa, I asked you who that was and you said, "Santa Clock".

Close enough....

It was a sweet reminder that you're still trying to figure out some of the things we're saying, just like I'm trying to figure out what a "Poh-la" is.

Later tonight, we were singing together and you happily sang, "You make me happ-EE when skies are GRAPE.... Please don't take my sunshine A WAVE."

I couldn't have said it better, Little Man.  Thank you for being my sunshine, my Sweetness, my happy thought, my son.

You do bring me joy... even when the skies are grape.

I love you, son.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself...

Dear Nathan,
The other day you had a sore throat.  Mama couldn't feel swollen glands, but you were holding your spit in your mouth.  I asked you what was wrong and you said, 'Mama, my swallow's broken".

Oh, Sweetness.  I know the feeling.

Glad you're feeling better.
Love, Mama

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hey, Look!

Dear Nathan,
I've been trying to get you excited about all the sights and sounds and traditions of Christmas.

You can't figure out why we suddenly have a large tree in the living room.  For the first couple of weeks, each time we turned on the lights you'd say, "Mama!  I think I scared!"

You're not too sure about why anyone should have to endure snow.  You are kind of baffled by Frosty the Snowman.   And so far you could not care less about Santa.

Although, the other day there was a catalog on the counter that had a picture of good ol' Saint Nick on the cover and you said, 'Look, Mama!  It dat guy!"

Yes, sweetheart.  "It dat guy".

One step at a time, I guess.  One step at a time.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mr. Hoity Toity

Dear Nathan,
You love to play and the longer you're home, the more creative you get with your play.  You love to pretend to fly like a dragon and you love it when other things have "wings".

The other day you figured out that you could take a part off of one toy and push them into the sides of your "Thomas the Tank Engine" and it would KINDA be like Thomas had wings.

I thought it was so cute that I asked you to show me how Thomas had wings so I could take a picture.  This is the look you gave me:

I don't think I've ever seen a more "hoity-toity" look on a three year old.  It's like "Professor Nathan will now present his flying train".

I love you , Little Man.  Thank you for always making me laugh.