Monday, February 28, 2011

People have asked where to order the book

Click here and it will take you to the page.

I added a hardcover-image wrap option as well if you want that.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Can't Want To Be a Romanoff

My dearest Sweetness,
You have a new saying that is adorable and so appropriate.

Instead of saying that you "don't" want to do something, you say you "can't want" to do it.

Mama will say it's time to get ready for bed and you say, 'Mama, I can't want to."

Or I'll tell you we need to get you some medicine for the nasty cold you've had and you tell me that you "can't want" your medicine.

I think I'm going to start trying that one out at work - next time I get asked to create a report or something.  We'll see if it works any more successfully for me than it has for you.

Speaking of cold medicine, I think it wired you last night.  You were literally bouncing up and down as fast as you could.  I asked you what you were doing and you said, "I dancing".  Then, on all the "downbeats" of your jumping you said, "Mama. I. Don't. Wanna. Listen".

It was very cute and I have to admit that I couldn't prevent myself from laughing at you.

I am constantly amazed at how you think things through.  Since you came home you've called my parents "Grandma and Grandpa Fish" (because they have an enormous aquarium in their living room) and you call Papa's parents "Grandma and Grandpa Mint" (because our last name is hard to say when you're three).

The "grands" have LOVED it - it's been so cute and they've called themselves that as well (like on the phone or "come give Grandpa Fish a hug").

A few weeks ago I finally broke it to you that those weren't REALLY their names.  I explained what their names really were and I repeated them a few times so you'd get the association ("Grandma Fish is Grandma Olson", etc).

A few minute later I could hear you in the backseat, talking to yourself.  You were trying out the feel of those new names.  I heard you say, "Grampa O'son.... Grampa O'son" and then you said, "Mama, do THEY know that?" 

I asked you, "does WHO know that?" and you said, "Grampa Fish".

Yes, Sweetie.  He knows what his real name is.  Sorry to ruin the dream.

Speaking of names, yours can be a mouthful.  Our last name is hard to say. You'll get used to spelling it for everyone the rest of your life.  But right now, if we ask you what your name is you say "Na-tun Bent Romanoff".

That'll do, Son.   That'll do.

I love you,

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Snips and Strings and Little Things

There has been so much of the past year that I haven't blogged about.  It seems like life is a whirlwind and it's all I can do to keep up with work and church and my health raging through it all.

So, if you'll indulge me, I'm going to catch you up on a few gems.

When Nathan came home from Haiti, he didn't know HOW to play.  We had toys for him.  They were pretty meaningless to him.  At that point he didn't know what the animals were so he had no concept of what a stuffed elephant or giraffe were supposed to be.

Nate did two things when he came home with toys:
1.  He liked to take a toy (like the infamous El Camino) and HOLD IT in his hand.  That's mostly what he did.  Hold on to it.  He'd take it to bed.  Take it to the table to eat.  Take it outside, upstairs, wherever he was going.  Just hold it.

He still does this.  He pretty much always has a train or a car in his hand.  I think that's pretty reflective of the orphanage lifestyle - if somehow you get something, hold on tightly because you never know when someone else bigger than you will take it away.

2.  The one activity that he did do (right from the moment he was home) with his cars was put things in them.  It's kind of hard to explain, but if he finds any tiny scrap of something - a bit of string, a rip of paper, some lint off the carpet - he will pick it up and very carefully shove it into whichever car he's holding.  That would entertain him for hours.  He could sit on the carpet and pick up little threads and just push them in through the windows of whatever he was holding.

When he was first home and before he could really verbalize what he wanted, he'd come to me with a fully stuffed car just bawling.  I eventually figured out he wanted me put help him get everything back OUT of the car so he could push it INTO the car again.  Pretty soon he'd bring me the car full of strings and things and say, "Hep, peez" and hand it to me to "de-stuff".  I'm pretty good at it now (a straightened paperclip is very useful).

I have thought about this behavior and I've thought about what I know of where he lived.  Nate was always sick in Haiti.  He didn't really run around much.  If you can't fight for what you want, you won't get it in an orphanage.

I know how much concrete there was there and how few toys, how little space for those children.  In my mind's eye I can see Nate sitting by a crack in the concrete and pushing little bits of dirt into it over and over again to entertain himself.

Here's a closeup of one of his stuffed trucks:

Right after Nate's arrival, my dear cousin, K, sent him two large cars with a note that said, "Because every American boy eventually has to decide - Mustang, or Camaro?"  The doors opened on these cars and they were  the perfect size for little boy hands to push around.  He has LOVED those cars, K.  There was a period of time where he figured out he could pull the tires off of them.  He picked one at random, named it "Tire" and he carried it with him everywhere.  For weeks Tire went EVERYWHERE - he even took "Tire" to bed.  Numerous times we'd be most of the way out the door and he'd realize he didn't have Tire and I'd have to go back and find Tire so he could clutch it in his hand.  I finally had to put an end to it after the eightyjillionth time of searching for "tire" all over the dark carpet in the back of my car, where he'd dropped it from his carseat and was now sobbing for "Tire!"

Here is one of the cars from K with some string, a carrot and a bit of plastic inside:

I spent many evenings laying on my stomach next to him and showing him how the cars rolled back and forth if you held them just so and making car noises for him.  At first he LOOKED at me like I was insane, but he quickly caught on.

Now he likes to go through all his cars and trains and say, "Mama, what color dis?  What color dat?"  or "What his name?" (mostly used for his Thomas trains).  That will entertain him until Mama is so bored she wants to poke her eyes out.  

But the best moments are when I can hear him making his cars or trains talk to each other and he's making whistle sounds and engine sounds and just being an American boy.

That, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Book, part deux

Of course, as soon as I got the book in the mail and flipped through it, I could see a few places where the headers weren't lined up how they should have been.

I am uploaded a new copy to so if you haven't ordered one yet and you're going to, then please use the 2nd version.

I've also edited the Paypal button to include a "use it where you need it most" option.  A couple people have asked about that.

We seem to have flatlined at 83 Twitter followers.  Not sure what we need to do to get traction and really get some numbers (aside from having someone who can full-time Tweet... honestly, who has the time for that??)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It Takes a Sweet Boy to Call His 6'4" Papa This

Nate says this quite often in reference to Daddy.

I just adore the way he says "funny liddle guy".

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Your Birthday!.... What Do You Mean It's Not Your Birthday

Nathan's a little confused about the whole "holiday" and "celebrations" thing.  Since it was Daddy's birthday 2 weeks ago, he's been singing a little song he made up for the dogs, "It's your birthday, Pohla!"  

So we made his first Valentines this week.  I thought it would be cute to try to get him to focus for a half a second and tell me something about the kids in his day care.  

So, Nate did the front of the cards, and Mama did the investigative reporting on the back.  

For those of you who can't quite make it out, the back of Collin's card says, 'He my friend", "He my buddy", "I gonna give him money?" (This one he phrased as a question, trying to figure out again what the point of these "bal-en-times" is), "It's your birthday, Collin" (he wanted to tell that to all the kids, so what are you going to do besides run with it?), "I love him", and "He my big buddy".

And while we're at it, here are the dogs.  Their names are Divot 

and Bobby Jones,
 but Nathan's nicknamed them "Pohla" and "Poklee" respectively.

And here is his best whirling dervish while he sings a little ditty he made up himself titled, 
"It's you birfday for Poklee"

Friday, February 11, 2011

I Come Back for You

Some friends of ours gave us this Fisher-Price car for you.  Somehow they'd ordered two and didn't want to deal with a return.

I'm not sure exactly how that happens, but hey - free car!

Because it's like negative eleventy outside, we have it in the house. In the evenings after dinner you like to get it out and drive it around and around the couch/kitchen island loop.  It's like the Toddler Autobahn.  Dogs beware.  Nate's got his "Flintstone feet" and he's a-going!

I'll say, "Bye, Nate!  Come back soon!" and you'll say, "Bye, Mama!  I see you later!" and then you're off.  Sometimes you say, "I go work.  See you later.  I get you a Jessie's" (that's his daycare lady).

This last week you added to our little game.

Now when you come back around the loop you say, "Mama, I come back for you!" and then you swing open the door to your car and you run as fast as you can to give me a hug.

Oh, Sweetness.  I know exactly how you feel.

Mamas always, always come back for you.

We're flamily.

I love you,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How Does $5 Per Month Sound?

We have a "monthly support' option now for helping Haiti.

The button here looks "meh" but the version of it on "" made me do the happy dance.

Can you do $5.00 per month for Harry?  For Bel?

What about $20?

$20.00 is like a bajillionty times more money than Harry could do on his own every month.

Will you help?

My Kingdom for the Rent...

I'm having a "sigh" day.  I chatted with Harry last night.

He started his conversation with me by saying, "I am very worried for some things".  That's Harry saying, "You've got to help me.  I can't sleep because of some of these things I have no control over.  Remember how there's no way for me to get work here?  Remember how I'm trying to care for so many other people that I can't take care of my own family sometimes?"

I asked him what was wrong and he said, "I need to get the rent to the owner".

In Haiti they pay rent for buildings a year at a time.  That means it's easy for me to forget that he has to do that.  It also  means he's been worried about this for weeks and just now wanted to remind me that he still owes that.

I asked him what the rent was.  I honestly don't know.

See last year at the first of the year, my son was still in an orphanage in Haiti.  Last year, Bel Haiti paid the rent at THAT facility.

Then the earth shook and walls fell and all hell broke loose.

My son came home.

We had to split off from the orphanage he was in for a lot of reasons that aren't open for public nosiness.

We reorganized ourselves as Bel Haiti and Harry became our employee.

Harry lives in a building that should technically be paid for by another organization, another orphanage.  He lives in a building that was one of three locations of another orphanage.  Harry (and his wife and two kids) live in that facility and run the location for that orphanage's director in exchange for a roof over his head.

He, his wife and two children live in one room of that building.  That's it.  Their "home" is one room.

Oh, and his family gets to eat when the orphanage kids eat.

Have I mentioned Haiti's a rough place to live?

This year, things aren't good in Haiti.  The orphanage director can't pay the rent on Harry's location.  Since all that orphanage's locations were severely damaged by the earthquake, they are STRUGGLING for every penny this year.

Where does that leave Harry?  What is he to do?

He said, 'The rent is $7000, but this building very bad and need much repairs.  All the board part [he means "everything made of wood"] been distroyed the woof and the kitchen. also the gates.  It all need paint.  Very dirty."

I said, "in America the building owner pays the repairs."

Yeah... not how it works in Haiti.

I said, "Harry, please help me remember.  Do you feel $7000 is a fair price for that building?"

See it's hard for me to translate things into "Haiti".  I live in America and have a garage for my cars and electricity all the time.  I have sewage and running CLEAN water piped right into my house.

What do I know about the going yearly rate for a broken down building in Haiti?

Harry's optimism never ceases to amaze me.

He said, "Yes.  $7000 very good price.  I would like to have better place but i love this place because it is safe and the weather is cool and it easier to take tap-tap when the car is broken."

In Haiti, the cars are always broken.  It's always hard for Harry to get things.  He has to find a water truck to come and fill the cistern so that he and the children will have water.  That costs him $75 every other week.  He has to find gasoline so that they can have the generator run in the evenings for a short while.  At $4 per gallon, that's not cheap.

But here he is, 6 weeks into the new year, and the landlord wants his money.

How do I tell a man who is living somewhere that should probably be condemned by US standards but  by Haitian standards is someplace to "really love" that I don't have the $7000 he needs to cross this worry off his list?

Sometimes I get so focused on raising the other $33K we need for our part of the wall that I forget that Harry still has day-to-day in Haiti to pay for and no funds to do it.

He's always so grateful for every penny we send him.  I know he really feels sad when he has to ask for more money because the rent is due or he can't feed the kids if he doesn't get money soon.  It's usually smaller increments and we can usually send it to him, but we don't have this chunk of money for the rent.

What do I tell him?

I tell him "I'll get it.  We'll find it Harry.  We can't have you homeless."

And I cry as I type it from my warm house with the running water because my son "came home".

Harry IS HOME.  That's his world.  He lives there.  That's what he knows.

Countdown to Homecoming's First Product Recommendation

So, no we're not being paid for this.

A friend at work told me her dermatologist recommended this stuff:

It's a moisturizing cream with time release something-or-other in it so it keeps "moisturizing" all day.

(yes, I think "time release something-or-other" is the technical term.  But thank you for asking.)

You can get it at the Walmarts or the Target.  It's pricier, but still not in the "you want me to pay WHAAT??" range.

And here's the best part -


I've noticed that the next time I go to "lube" N up (twice per day - I do live in a desert, after all) his skin is not so parched that I think I'm going to chafe him to pieces.

So far, Mama thinks this is muy bueno.

Me likey.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Happened to My Little Boy

Dear Sweetness,
For the last several weeks every time I would ask you to stop doing something you would look at me and ask in the most innocent, sweet tone:

"Joo not want me get hurt?"

It seemed that was the only reason you could imagine for me to ask you to stop something.

Even if that something was feeding your food to the dogs.

This last week, something flipped.

I think the terrible threes caught up with you.

Or you learned something on the mean streets of daycare.

Now, when I ask you to not do something you immediately grab something and try to throw it.  Usually at my head.

What happened to "Joo not want me get hurt?"  Can we go back to that?  I not want ME to get hurt either.  And really, how much of your life needs to be spent in timeout??

I love you, but I'm not so thrilled with the train chucking phase we've entered.

Let me know when we can move on to something else.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It Was Only a Matter of Time

It's like a rite of passage to write on your face, right?

I'm just glad it was a highlighter.

Can you believe this cheesy mug??

Sweetness, you will never know how much I adore you.  Thank you for letting me be your Mama.

Monday, February 7, 2011

We Have 70 Twitter Followers

mostly due to the awesomeness that is Loralee

And I've decided that I am apparently absolutely no competition,  When it comes to either watching the Super Bowl or reading my fabulous musings, the general population chooses the Super Bowl.  Thank you for putting me in my place.

Damn those commercials!

But hey, I don't have lousy half-time shows.  At least there's that.

So we're trying again today.

Do you Twitter?  Do you know someone who does?  Help us get the word out about BelHaitiOrg on Twitter.

Please follow us.  We don't just want followers - we want STALKERS.

Won't you be our stalker?

We Are Flamily

Dear Sweetness,
It's been a year that you've been home now.  I think you're still getting used to the idea of having a family.

I had to run an errand the other night and I was gone for a few hours.  When I walked in the door you yelled, "MAMA!  You came back for me!"

It was adorable and yet it hurt my heart.

Since then, we've been talking about how Mamas "always always always" come back for you.

You still don't trust that.

I guess we didn't really "help" that issue, what with our six trips to visit you and your sister while you were in the orphanage.

I don't think you remember those visits, but I think you might remember the stress of being left.


Then yesterday you looked at me and said, "You love me because we're flam-ily."

That's right, Sweetness.  We are "flamily".

And flamilies take care of each other.  They love each other.  They eat together.  They play together.  They pray together.

They come back for you.

I will always, always come back for you.

I love you,

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Show Me What You've Got

Dear Readers,
Do you Twitter?  Do you know someone who does?

We're just launching into using Social Media for Bel Haiti.

About a year ago, you helped us raise $10,000 in ONE DAY for Jet Fuel to get these sweet babies home.  It worked.  They're home.  We fueled that plane.

Do you think we could get 100 followers for belhaitiorg on Twitter before the night is out?

Will you help me see if we can?

Thank you,
Nate's Mama
Team Hope FAQs:

  • Can I order a copy? 

 If you really want to, yes, yes you may.  Just go to and search for "Team Hope: Haiti".

  • What exactly is it? 
 It's a collection of news articles and emails that summarize the whole ordeal. I selected the option on so you can preview the whole thing so that you can get an idea of what it is.  The articles were pulled off the "internets" during and right after the earthquake but most are no longer online.  I THINK that means I could technically advertise it as "Rarely Seen Before Footage", but we'll skip that part.
  • Why is the picture of my kid so grainy?
Some of these pictures were taken by Team Hope members using their camera phones, then texted to me at the time.  I blame it on "low pixel quality", but let's pretend that the "internets" had to crumple the picture up to get it to fit through the tiny little "internets tubes" and when I smoothed it out on this end, that's what I got.

  • Why didn't do you this as a fundraiser for Bel Haiti?
Because the price was already $47.95.  That's a heap o' money, particularly if you're trying to purchase one for more than one kid.  I just couldn't stomach tacking on a few more dollars when the audience that would actually be interested in this book is already pretty limited.  If I was going to get Oprah to put it on her "Favorite Things List" and we were going to sell a gajillion, then it would have been worth a few extra bucks per copy.  I tried to keep it short - it used to be 245 pages, so you're getting the "bargain" version.
  • This is made up, right?
Nope.  No it's not.  We really had to go through all this craziness to get our babies home.  So worth it!

A Year and a Week Later....

... and I finally have the book done.

196 pages, 340+ pictures.

It's also kind of difficult when you don't have the originals of ANYTHING - you had to pull it all from the web or someone's camera phone.

Despite putting out several calls for pictures and articles, there were really only a few families who contributed. 

I've also decided that the Blurb software was quality checked by blind monkeys.  It's pure evil and maddening.  I don't think I'd use that option again (for what that's worth).

I've stressed about this way more than is healthy.  I worry about whether I've "done it right" and I have to keep reminding myself that it is what it is and you can't please everyone.

It has some great pictures of the kids.  It has the background story of how it all came together.  It shows how crazy the whole process was.  It was fun to remember the whole insane process and realize how much you forget when the situation is over.

As I type this, my son is scaling the furniture while making train noises and saying, "Pushing cars!  Pushing cars!"  And they're home.

That's really the most important thing, right?

[I didn't do a dust cover - so order a soft copy only (if you happen to be one of the families that is interested.)]