Friday, August 29, 2008

More To The Story

I received this comment from our friend Jim sharing more details of my last post that I was not aware had happened. I think now I remember Jim mentioning something about Debbie's seat being double booked but I don't know if I just never heard the full version of the story or was just too distracted or exhausted to remember it. So, I got a good laugh when I read this and thought it was too funny not to share~

But wait... there's more! Back in the terminal we may not have understood what the announcer had said, but judging by the reaction it was clear what had happened – they overbooked the flight. When Debbie and I finally got to the plane, there was someone sitting in her seat. It wasn't a mistake – they assigned the same seat to two passengers. So I gave Debbie my seat and took the empty seat next to her. Considering the commotion in the airport and the steady trickle of passengers still boarding the plane, in spite of all hopes I knew they wouldn't let the plane go without filling every seat. And the seat I was in wasn't mine. When the last passenger boarded she walked past our isle, but I saw her boarding pass and knew she'd be back. Seeing someone in her seat, she called for a flight attendant. I relayed the story, she took our boarding passes, and walked away. A few minutes later one of the ladies from the counter in the airport showed up. I gave her my story – that they gave Debbie's seat away twice. She walked away, talked with some people and left. Minutes later, the lady from the airport returned, this time with a security guard. Just as I thought this could get a little interesting, they looked up, noticed an empty seat in the next isle over, and asked the unseated passenger if she would mind taking the other seat. She took the seat – problem solved. I was thankful we were on our way, but wow, I wish someone had noticed the empty seat earlier so Angela, Jim, Stephanie, Jude and Lovenie could have dinner 20 minutes earlier. Preassigned seating flying out of Port Au Prince – a good thing if you can get it. The guy in Debbie's seat may have had that seat preassigned to him (I only briefly saw his boarding pass). But if came down him or Debbie, he probably would have won that one, and we'd be spending the night in the airport. Thankfully, the lord had it all covered. -Jim

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bringing Them Home At Last

I'm slowly still working on finishing telling the story of our trip to Haiti and bringing our children home. Can you believe that they have almost been home a whole month already? Boy am I lagging in my story. Here we go:

Last story of our trip I told you about unfolding our 11 people, 8 suitcases, and around 10 carry on's or backpacks out of the small 5 person SUV. Briefly hugging and kissing sweet Jacques goodbye and that is where our story picks up again...

Once at the airport you immediately go through security just to get in the front door. We had to put everything down for screening and show everyones passports. From the moment we got out of the car we were swarmed with porters wanting to take our bags and somehow one or two of them won out over the others and assisted us. Once inside one of the porters told us to give him $50 and he would help us get through security and through the system quicker... Uhm... NO! We had planned to tip a combined amount for all our things of $20 since we did have a lot of stuff and could use the help but we sure were not going to pay a "tip" to help us get through. Do you think we looked that stupid? Okay, don't answer that! So we refuse to pay it and yet we somehow end up passing everyone up and ending up at the front of the line anyways.

At the check in counter we were requested to show all our passports, the passports and visas for the kids, and their immigration paper work. It was a breeze getting our tickets and moving on. From there we had to go through an immigration window where they again checked our paper work and passports and again... no problem. We didn't have time to look around the airport shops like we would have liked to so we headed towards the terminal where we would board our plane. We had to go through security 2 more times before getting there. Nothing really had gone wrong at this point but we were already exhausted. Stephanie and Jude were also saying they were really scared about flying. They didn't say so but I'm sure they were scared about much more then that (who wouldn't be?). So it was not a time we could really whoop it up and act super excited that they were coming home because we knew how they were feeling.

Once at the terminal Jim headed to talk with an employee because they had booked us to sit in 3 different areas and with only 2 parents that just was not going to work. The employee told Jim she would take care of it for us and to wait for her to call him back to the counter before the flight. The time we were supposed to board came and went and we were never called back up. Then they made an announcement in French or maybe Creole that we could not understand but we could sure understand that it was not good. Nearly everyone jumped out of their seats yelling and some people even yelling out obscenities and people started running and pushing towards the counters. Never seen anything like it! It was absolutely insane.

Jim and our friend Jim jumped right in the middle of the chaos and headed to the counter waving our tickets under the noses of the employee. The woman recognized Jim and took his tickets to get us seats. Jim was pointing at friend Jim and telling her "He's with us". She gave us our seats and sent Jim on his way but said that our friend Jim (and wife Debbie) would have to wait to be assigned seats. Meanwhile, Debbie, myself, and the kids had no idea of what was going on and what we were supposed to do. We managed to drag all our stuff towards the line to board the plane and desperately looking for our husbands and some answers. Jim came back with tickets and we got in line to board the plane but were stopped as they took our tickets for the attendants to check out our immigration paperwork and passports/visas again. They insisted we head towards the plane and with the crowds we were nearly pushed outside the building (where the plane is boarded). We stood there so unsure of what to do. The employee had told Jim that Jim and Debbie would get seats but she would not give them to them until later. It occurred to me that if they were denied seats they did not have anywhere to go, any phone numbers to call for help, and spoke little of the language (not that we could speak much more either). We could not reenter the airport to help and we didn't want to board the plane. We just stood there in fear wondering what we should do. We let out a huge cheer when we finally saw our friends leave the building and head towards us!!!

We were given seats in the very last row of the huge plane and by the time we boarded the aisles were packed with people. It took a really long time to get to our seats. This whole time I was carrying Lovenie and we had our carry ons to deal with. By the time we got to our seats I was physically shaking from stress and exhaustion. Fortunately it was not a seizure type shaking but just a totally drained in every way kind of shaking. It was horrible. So... We wait 3 years and 3 months for this moment and instead of great joy and fun it was so very difficult. The kids all did great on the flight though and we were so proud of them!

For anyone in the process of adoption from Haiti that would like to read details specifically about the process of dealing with the airport and immigration when bringing your children home please see my other blog at www.haitiadoptionhelp.blogspot.com

Here are a few pictures:


While waiting to board (and before all the chaos) dear Friend Debbie gives us the "thumbs up" to share in our joy of bringing the kids home.
Our moment is here at last
Waiting for their first flight
For years I had wondered what Jude and Stephanie would think of things like escalators and elevators. Their reactions were so fun to watch! Here they are on their first escalator. They have been on a few since being home and it is still fun watching them try and figure out the timing of jumping on and off.
Jude flashes us a smile after we land and welcome him to America.

These next pictures are out of order but were taken when we were on the airplane and about to fly out of Haiti:


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mom's Day In Paradise

Because I have managed to marry the worlds greatest guy I got to leave for almost the whole day Saturday. No kids... just a good book and a day alone at the Glen Ivy Spa! It was heavenly. It was just what I needed both emotionally and physically as I soaked in the hot springs, lounged in the lounge pool, hung out in the underground cave at the Grotto (my favorite place there), and had a quiet and delicious lunch alone in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. I left there feeling so refreshed and relaxed! Here is a link to the post about the Glen Ivy Spa when Jim and I went there for one of 10 dates for 10 years

Sunday, as promised, we returned with all the kids to Disneyland. We had some serious attitudes from a couple of our kids that day but we also did some really fun things. We did ride some rides but we mostly had gone there to see shows that we thought Stephanie and Jude would really like~ High School Musical 2 (which I was so glad was still playing because I had wished for Stephanie to be with me to see it many times before she came home). They tried to tell me they didn't like it but I saw the huge smiles on their faces and heard them laughing through Aladdin. Then afterwards:

"Did you like it?"
"No".
"Yeah right!". ;)

Thing are still pretty rocky around here. This transition has not been an easy one. We expected this but we didn't know we could have the horrible feelings we are having or even have thoughts at times of some regret about our decision to adopt. We also have some times of laughter and fun that help a little to survive the other uglier times. It's been hard on everyone but we are trusting in God's plan for our family and hang on to the hope that it will not always be this much of a struggle.

Friday, August 22, 2008

12 Shots and 5 Referrals

This morning I begged and pleaded (actually... I just called and asked and remained on the phone until they made me happy) to have our kids finally seen by a doctor. They qualified for medical care the moment our plane landed in the US but Kaiser wouldn't let us schedule until they got around to putting us "in their system" and then they were insisting that they needed to get on a waiting list for a physical exam and that would be at least another 4-6 weeks. So, this morning after I "sweet" talked them into giving me a same day appointment I scrambled to get the kids fed, dressed, myself showered, and out the door in one hour! Woo Hoo!!!

I had prayed about the doctor I would want to see our kids and boy was my prayer ever answered! The doctor we saw was not only SO very kind but he just happened to be the doctor that wrote the guidelines on how to care for internationally adopted children and has cared for many of them. It also turns out that he is a Christian man. Could we have got it any better???

He spent a lot of time with all three children. Jude is being referred to a pediatric plastic surgeon for the repair of his feet. Stephanie has holes in her ear drums from having had so many ear infections so she will be seeing a specialist to see if she needs ear surgery. Lovenie will be seeing a neurologist, a speech therapist, a specialist regarding concerns about her sight, and does have a small hernia (as I suspected). He also did some tests with Jude and confirmed what I have believed all along... It is highly unlikely that Jude is 10 years old. He said that he is much more likely to be around 8 or 9 years old at the most.

They ended up getting 4 shots each. In the past I have sent Jim to take the kids for their shots because I can't stomach holding them down while they cry. Today that was not an option. When I told the kids they would need the shots Stephanie began to cry and back away from us. Jude bravely volunteered to go first and jumped right up on the table. Next I held and prayed with Stephanie while she received hers. Then I had to restrain Lovenie while she screamed, kicked, and fought back. Oh how I hate that! Poor girl was just covered in sweat from crying and fighting it so hard. Then I had to break the news to them that they also needed blood tests. Stephanie was horrified but worked it out and got it done. Jude again brave... and if those of you living in TX heard screaming today... that was just Lovenie letting us know she was not into it.

All six kids were just so totally fantastic though. I'm really proud of all of them. I took them out to lunch for being so good. On the way to the restaurant (which was attached to a mall) Johnny's shoe broke so we went inside the mall to get him new flip flops. Stephanie of course LOVED the mall. We spotted a kids play area so after our lunch we headed there for a couple of fun hours. So.... 12 shots, 3 blood tests, 3 urine tests (and some even grosser take home tests), 5 referrals to specialists, one lunch at a restaurant, 2 hours of mall play area, 6 kids, and one Mom all equals~ I'm exhausted! It sure was great fun though once all the needles were put away!!

SUCCESS

Perhaps my definition of success has changed since my earlier years but the feeling of success feels just as good (no...better!). Yesterday I would most certainly dub as a great family success day!

The most important~ Jim did get Jacques' paper work filed! We have a letter from USCIS acknowledging that it has indeed been received (and accepted) before his 16th birthday. We were also finally able to get questions answered that we were concerned about and all the answers led to only great relief! CELEBRATING JACQUES!!!

More success~ We had really been having some concerning issues with one of our children. On Wed. I thought perhaps it was going to be just impossible for me to parent this child (and there were a lot of tears). Some punishment was given out for disrespect and disobedience and it felt just crummy. That day, thinking I was just going to totally fall apart, I reached out to my Mom who prayed with me that I would love this child the way God loves this child. After that I was able to go up and pull them into my arms and we prayed together. After prayer and a serious talk things were much better. Then Jim came home and we took this child to our room for a very serious yet very loving pow wow. We made it really clear what our expectations were (as far as obeying and respecting) and what the punishments would be if these things were not done. Then the three of us prayed together again.

Thursday morning I woke up to a different child!!! For the first time there were no dirty looks, no stomping around the house or hitting things, everything I asked was done with a smile. Praise God!!! This child was an absolute joy to spend the day with! Let's just pray that we continue to have more days like yesterday.

I decided to take them all to the pool but, once again, could not find a clean swimsuit for everyone. We swim nearly every day and nearly every day we have this problem. So I loaded up our six little ones and off to Walmart we headed. My first time in Walmart alone with six kids could not have gone much better! Our children were sweethearts in the store and nearly everyone left with a new swimsuit and flipflops. Now that's what I call SUCCESS!!!

Because this "supermom" has limited powers we grabbed some cheeseburgers from the McD's in Walmart. It was kind of sweet to see all the kids in one booth laughing and playing together! Afterwards we hit the pool for more family fun. I still insist that six children does not at all seem like a lot of kids.



Thursday, August 21, 2008

Important but missed dates...

This has been a month of important dates that usually I would celebrate with great fanfare but for some reason (busy or something) the days have passed me by without me even realizing it:

August 14th~ The very 1st anniversary of the day an adoption decree was issued for Stephanie, Jude, and Lovenie. How could I have not noticed that date? Isn't it crazy that it took them almost a year from becoming our legal children to when they came home?

August 17th & 18th~ Our monthaversaries. Every month on the 17th we celebrate another month of being married and on the 18th we celebrate another month of being together (our 1st date was Sept. 18th and we were married one day short of 4 months later on Jan. 17th). We usually take these two days of the month to spend some date time together... even if that just means hanging out watching a movie or tv alone. This month, for the first time ever in our relationship, we didn't realize we had missed it until afterwards.

August 19th~ 17 months seizure free!!!! I usually celebrate every 19th as another seizure free month but it never even crossed my mind this month.

August 19th~ My sweethearts birthday. I DID NOT forget this date! There is hope for me!

August 21st (today)~ My only brothers birthday. Happy Birthday Johnny. You are a wonderful big brother and I love you very much, even if I didn't manage to get a card in the mail!

August 21st (today)~ Jim is at this very moment at USCIS filing the I-600 (immigration) form for our dear son Jacques. He turns 16 exactly 2 weeks from today so we are just barely getting it done before the deadline. Please pray with us that this paper work will not be denied for any reason. This is our one and only shot to get him home. Once he turns 16.... game over. :( Nope... no stress at all!

August 21st (still today)~ Jim was informed that there are 3 positions that he should apply for at the Texas location. I think he's going to give it a shot and see where it leads us. We still are kind of holding out hope to move to the Bay area instead (closer to family) but the Texas location offers same pay but way less in cost of living, being near our dear TX friends, and better career opportunities for Jim (including less working hours!).

If you know me at all you know I like to celebrate. It's been said about me that I would gladly celebrate the grand opening of a can of soup~~~ So true!!! While I'm all about big celebrations over little things, I'm also all about finding an excuse to go back and celebrate the things I missed out on celebrating. So thank you God for the anniversary of our adoptions, another month seizure free, another month with my dear husband, the birth/gift of said dear husband, the birth/gift of my only brother, getting the papers needed to file the I-600 "just in time", exciting moving and career opportunities for our futures... so much to be thankful for.

Now if you will excuse me I think I will gather up six kids and head to the "big" pool to begin our celebrations. Saturday we are thinking we might go to Tom's Farms to see a magic show with the kids, and Sunday we are headed back to see Mickey Mouse. That should make up for it all, right?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First Trip To Disneyland Together

Our children alone take up a whole row in the tram from the parking lot to the park. When we were almost there I told Stephanie and Jude we were finished and it was time to go home now. They laughed and yelled "NO".

Our first ride was the Jungle Cruise:

Right now Jude is probably thinking~ "Is that tiger real?"
Waiting for a turn to ride Pirates~ Stephanie and Jude LOVED it! Me, Johnny, and Lovenie waited on the other side to see their reactions as they got off the ride. They were all smiles.
Waiting outside of the Tiki room. It is a place we like to go to eat lunch because it is cool inside, entertaining, and they allow food and drinks.

Waiting together for Mr. Toads wild ride
Brother and sister take a seat at Mickey's house
Outside of Brother Bear Park. You can't really see it in the picture but Jim, Stephanie, Jude, and Kyle all went on the Rapid River Ride (Okay, I always forget the names of rides and so I make up my own, but you get the idea... right?). The kids had a good hard laugh on the ride because they stayed pretty dry while Jim just got drenched all throughout the ride!


Parenting Tip~ If you want to leave Disneyland at a decent time without any complaints from the kids you should allow them to play in the water play areas right before sunset. They end up cold and wanting to go home!

Lovenie is just an absolute goofball and we were cracking up at her while playing in the water areas. She would put her face right in and just scream and then do it again and again. She also entertained us with little dances and lots of giggles. She is such a happy and silly little girl.

We return to see and do more on Sunday if all the kids have been good. We are excited to catch a couple shows and parades we did not get to see. So far 5 out of 6 of the kids have really been a great joy. One is giving us a hard time and really struggling so we ask that you would please continue to pray for this child and pray that the Mama does not have a nervous breakdown while waiting out the struggles!

Fearless

I'm just so very proud of Stephanie, Jude, and Lovenie. They did GREAT at Disneyland. Stephanie and Jude even hit a few roller coasters and water rides which was very exciting for Kyle since his little brothers would not do them with him. It was a really sweet bonding day for Jude and Kyle as they liked to sit together on each ride and could even be seen holding hands while making their way through crowds. We had six kids at Disneyland so, of course, we experienced a bit of attitude and trouble. However, over all, I would call yesterday a real success!

We plan to go again on Sunday because there is so much more we want to do and see together. I'm looking forward to sharing pictures but our computer is on strike today. Jim claims to have had a good birthday day. He is so much fun for the kids to be with and I kinda like having him around too. Today we are all tired from yesterdays adventures so we are going to hang out in PJ's and watch some movies together (I've given up on school until our family is a little more adjusted). I'll post the photo's as soon as the computer and I have finished negotiations.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Handsome!

Today is the birthday of my FAVORITE person on this planet! Happy Birthday Jim. Because he is slightly insane, and I am totally insane, and our kids are.... Well, you get the idea.. We will be spending the day at DISNEYLAND.

Okay, before any of the experts start giving me your opinions about this... This was not a decision made easily. We thought we would wait MUCH longer before taking them but we had told them about it over time and they had seen a Disneyland video and were begging to go. I tried to explain our concern that they may not be ready or it might be a bit scary for them right now. They insisted "no way". So... off we go. I don't know what to expect. I am really hoping that we have a fun filled, bonding, and exciting day. It could also go way the other way. We have already decided that if it gets to be too much~ we leave. If the kids are not listening or are out of control~ we leave.

We do really hope it will be a one of the greatest days ever for every member of our family. I'll post pictures of Stephanie, Jude, and Lovenie's first Disneyland experience soon!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Day Three In Haiti (Last Day)

Jacques requested that we have our picture taken as a family before leaving the guest house and even chose the stairs as our location.

On Thursday we were leaving the guest house around 2 PM to head for the airport. It was kind of a strange day. So many crazy emotions going on. We finished the last of our packing trying to make sure we would have everything we needed for our flight to Miami that evening and for our stay at the hotel that night. That kept us pretty busy. I also was continuing to hold out hope that we would get a last minute surprise visit from their Mother and Vilner but as time ticked on it was pretty clear that was not going to happen. While beyond happy that it was the day we were finally bringing our children to America it did not hold the "happiness" we dreamed it would during all those years in waiting. Every time I looked at or hugged Jacques I would need to turn away pretty quickly because I was certain that I would start sobbing and not be able to stop. It just seemed so unfair to take three home and leave one behind. As time moved on it also became a sad and emotional occasion for Stephanie and Jude. While in our hearts we wanted to cheer and celebrate them coming home we could also tell that they were afraid (which they were honest with us about) and sad to leave their loved ones behind.

Meanwhile, we also knew that our dear friends were having a very sad goodbye with their daughter and knowing how difficult that is~ my heart was broken for them too.

At 2:00 we went outside to find out that our ride to the airport was again going to be the 5 person SUV (again... 11 people, around 10 carry ons or backpacks, and 8 suitcases). The trip to the airport was rather brutal as we were all smashed in and stacked on top of each other. It's quite funny now that it is over! I sat on the console between the driver and Jim (friend Jim) in the other front seat with his 15 year old daughter on his lap. From lack of room my right leg ended up getting stuck in between the console and seat (which was not enough room for a leg), and my head was bent under the roof. There was not a comfortable seat to be had for anyone (except the driver). We bounced along like this for nearly an HOUR! What an adventure!!!

Once at the airport we all unfolded ourselves out of the vehicle and I'm pretty sure we all earned ourselves the souvenirs of many big bruises. I'm sure the sight of us climbing out of the SUV one after the other would have stopped Americans in their tracks while they doubled over laughing at us, but in Haiti we were not even given a second glance. ;) Things were so hectic that the moment we got out our luggage had been taken by porters and was on it's way into the airport with our without us. We had just a split second to get one last hug and kiss to Jacques before running after them. I do believe this ended up being a blessing. Given enough time I was sure to crumble with tears while saying goodbye to him. I will be so glad for the day that I will not be saying goodbye to one of our children when we leave Haiti!!!

The airport experience, immigration, and the first hotel stay were a really big adventure that I'll try and share soon. Whew!!! Crazy times.

Family update: I won't lie... It has not been easy around here at times. We never expected that it would be easy though. Still, even knowing that does not make it any easier to handle while you are going through it. It's like bringing home triplets only at least baby triplets can't talk back to you! ;) We have also been having some amazing times together and so many times I just look at the kids and am in awe that they are REALLY home! Each day is getting easier and I seem to be nearly over my illness.

One thing that has really surprised me is that six kids does not seem like a lot! Seriously, I count their little heads to make sure we have everybody and think "That's it? That doesn't seem like much". My dear friend Ange has been a huge help and encouragement to me. She has 8 children home (6 adopted from Haiti, 2 of them are the cousins of our children) and is in the process of adopting again. She told me in one of our phone conversations that "If you have 2 children you may as well have 8 because it really isn't all that different." I laughed and wished her luck on selling that to anyone! However, as crazy as it may seem.... part of me believes her.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Guess What I Did Today?

I RESTED. Yes, you read that right! It's only the 2nd day since I've been alone in parenting our new 6 pack of kids. I have been sick since returning from Haiti and when I woke up this morning I could barely talk. I informed them all (in English and Creole) that today there would be no school because Mama is malad (sick) and they can play, watch tv or movies, swim... whatever they want as long as they let Mama have a fasil (easy) day.

They have just been fantastic to me and each other. Stephanie even insisted on making our lunch, spaghetti, and I was so touched when I learned that she made it the way her brothers (Kyle, Johnny, and Luke) like it instead of her favorite way. Today has truly been a real gift from God and I thank you for your prayers!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day Two In Haiti

What a huge day our second day in Haiti was. It was fun, exciting, silly, wonderful, and heartbreaking all in the same day! It's a lot to try and share but I'll do my best to take advantage of our six little darlings all fast asleep and try and catch up a little.

We woke up early on Wed. and everyone got prettied up, ate breakfast, and was ready to go by 9AM (the days 1st miracle). Here are a few moments from the guest house before leaving:

Jacques, Jude, and Stephanie
Me and my girls get ready to leave
Lovenie is all dolled up to go and see her Haiti Mom

We were told we were to be ready to leave by 9AM and head to the office where we would be able to spend time with Stephanie, Jude, and Lovenie's Mom. I was so excited. I had met her before and was not the least bit nervous about seeing her again. It was one of the things I looked most forward to in the trip. I couldn't wait for Jim to meet her and Stephanie, Jude, and Lovenie to get to give her lots of love. Of course we were also SO excited to get to see Vilner too!!!
When it was time to go we went outside and were thrilled to see that they had a van waiting for us (not the small SUV). Here we are enjoying our cushy ride!


We were allowed to have some privacy and wait in Dr. Bernard's office while someone from the staff had gone to pick their Mom up and bring her there for the meeting. We waited and waited and waited.
Hours into the wait and Jim was curing his boredom by picking on me!
There was also lots of time to love on each other (Jude and Jacques)
Time to entertain ourselves (travel sorry
Jude "kicks back" in Dr. Bernard's chair while he is out of the country.

Around 1PM we were informed that they were not able to find her. We were all very disappointed. Bryn had arranged for a going away party for Stephanie, Jude, and Lovenie at the orphanage and so we were told to go ahead to the party and when they found her they would bring her to us.

Before we could head back to the "O" Stephanie had one VERY important request. She told Bryn that the only thing she really wanted to do before leaving Haiti was to go to a Haitian Market (grocery store) because she had never been to one. So off we all went to a Haiti market. Everyone got to pick out two things they wanted and we ended up with lots of sugary treats. We also stopped at a street market with vendors and got each of the kids a gift to remember the day and a little something for ourselves. It was such a great experience seeing all these amazingly hand crafted items and so inexpensive. The whole experience was a great adventure for us all!

We saw many great sights on the drive to the "O" but the most beautiful one was of the President's Palace. So pretty! I'll share some video of our drive down one of the streets soon.
When we finally got to the "O" we had very little time left to decorate, allow the Jim's to see where their children lived, and for me and Debbie to love on as many kids as we possibly could! The photo above is of Debbie covered in toddlers. I'm amazed I got the photo okay because I was just as covered with toddlers where I was too.

Jacques, our sweet son, what a GREAT person!! All big smiles while being climbed on. We are so in love with him!!!!

Finally it was time for the Bon Voyage party:
Stephanie found out there would be a party and requested this food. We were so glad she did because it was SO delicious!!!

Bryn calls Stephanie and Jude to the center of the party for everyone to yell their goodbyes. We brought along enough goody bags for them to give one out to all their friends before leaving.


Once they said there finally goodbyes we decided to walk a little ways to wait for our ride back to the guest house. When we got to the spot where we waited I could see that Jude was not doing well. I pulled him into my arms and talked with him to learn that he was so sad to say goodbye (of course!) and he just clung to me for a long time while I rocked back and forth with him in my arms. It was one of the hardest things I ever experienced as I held our hurting son and fought with all my might not to burst into sobs over his pain. It was at that moment that it really hit me how much our children were leaving behind to be members of our family. Oh the pain!

We never did get to see their Mother. That night there was much sadness again as Jude saw a picture of his Mom in a photo album we made to give to her. He again broke down into tears. Stephanie told Bryn that she was not sad to go to America but she only wished she could have said goodbye to their Mom. It was SO sad. I suggested they write her letters that we would leave with New Life Link (along with the photos) and that seemed to really perk them up when that was done! How I regret not having that time with her and how sad I am for all of us that it didn't happen. :(

Sunday, August 10, 2008

WIPEOUT- Home Version

We've enjoyed the tv game show Wipeout as a family and are bummed it's over for the season. So... We make our own!!!
video

The Boss

video
Lovenie does not take long in establishing her role as the boss of the house. Here you see her pushing her big brother around (playfully) and laughing hard as he falls back. Should we be concerned??!!

Lovenie Gets Her Groove On

Our little Lovenie just loves to dance. In the first video she really gets her groove on (without music). In the second video we are bringing her home from the airport and she can't decide if she should fall asleep or move to the music she hears~ tough decision!
video video

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Day 1 in Haiti, Part 2

I have a few moments to finally finish up our adventure in Haiti- Day 1! We spent a couple hours at the office just hanging out with the kids and loving on them. The manager brought us into a private office and allowed us to ask any questions we might have (this included Jim and Debbie and their questions about their adoption). Bryn was a sweetheart and translated for us and it went very well. They brought in Sodas and Pate for us to have and we had an office picnic. At first one of the staff members said we just had to wait around the office until 4:00 when someone would be available to drive us. I smiled and nodded but thought "4 hours in the office?". Thankfully someone was found that could take us a couple hours sooner. So off to the guest house we went:

Welcome to Haiti: Now figure out how you will get 11 people, 8 suitcases, and 10 carry ons into this tiny little 5 person SUV for a trip to the orphanage (not all the kids had the things they needed for the stay at the guest house), and then do it again on the way to the guest house. All the while bouncing along unpaved roads at high speeds while the driver drives right at people with his hand on the horn. This is when you KNOW you are in Haiti!!! It's such and adventure though.

The big day is just too exhausting for our baby girl
Brothers Jacques and Jude check out a Leapster for the first time. They thought it was pretty cool!
Lovenie just loved the pretty headbands we brought her. She loved it so much that she would try and put them all on at once.
We checked out a storm from the balcony at the guest house.


Lovenie really enjoys washing herself up. This is a picture of our shower at the guest house. You help yourself to some water from a big bucket near the shower and scoop it into a medium size bucket and then use the little one (that Lovenie is holding) to pour over yourself. The water is so cold it is shocking to your system even though you've been crazy hot all day. We were very grateful to have it.
I made one balloon animal dog while Jacques watched and then he grabbed a balloon and figured it out first try. He then helped me make dogs and horses to share with the kids during the going away party.
We found out that not only can Lovenie totally feed herself at the table but the girl sure can eat! You've gotta watch your plate if she's sitting next to you or you might lose a few things.
The word I think best describes staying at the Guest house~ SPOILED! It's always so relaxing and fun there. They feed us delicious food in large amounts, have special drinks (including Haitian Champagne, non-alcoholic), and a yummy dessert. They ring a bell and we all come to the table for a meal together (which is SO fun). They then clean everything up and won't for a second allow us to help with a thing. They are so very kind to us. The guest house, rooms, and area is just so stunning and clean. What a great place to spend time!
The kids totally enjoy watching movies on the portable DVD player. I later learned that there is a regular TV and DVD player in a living area right outside our room... but it's way more fun for them to lay in bed and watch on the little screen.
I couldn't believe how great Lovenie did when I gave her a coloring book and pack of large crayons. She began coloring right away and I sat watching her as she colored in the lines and took crayons in and out of the package just right. This was the first moment that I realized just how far she's developed since the last time I was with her. Almost like a totally different child. Please bare with me as I marvel again and again at how much God has just miraculously healed our little girl!!!