Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A new definition of CUP cakes!

Leave it to my uber fun Mom to send me a fun activity to do with the kids! We made a whole new definition of cup cakes today! Here is what we did... Break up the kids into teams of two~ Jacques and Luke, named Team Ja-uke. Brennah (one of my beloved Mother's helpers) and Lovenie, named Team Brenovie. And Kyle and Johnny, Team Kyohnny. Each team had a bowl (recipe says to mix in mug/coffe cup but easier to do in a bowl and pour in), a 1 TBSP measuring spoon (the only measurement needed), and a few ingredients. The teammates would take turns putting in their bowl the ingredients called out. Once all ingredients were added and mixed it was then poured into coffee cups (which I sprayed with pam spray just incase). These coffee cups were then put into the microwave for just 3 minutes. This part was super fun to watch (see video below) because the cake would rise way above the level of the cup and you were SURE it was about to topple over. Then the cup could be dumped over onto a plate, split in half and you have yourselves some chocolate cake for each team member! They had a blast making them and a blast eating them! Thanks Mom!!!



Team Ja-uke~ Jaco stirs in some cocoa while Luke cheers him on with a big thumbs up


Team Brenovie~ Brennah supervises while Lovenie stirs their batter.


Team Kyohnny~ Kyle mixes in the sweet stuff while Johnny waits for his turn.


All the teams working happily together!


Cup of Cocoa (cake) anyone?


Slip out of the cup, onto a plate, split, and serve


Take in the smiles!


We blasted the tops of them with some whipped cream and then it was time to dig in!!!

Below is a video of the kids crowding around the microwave to watch the cake grow out of the cup while cooking~

video

Thursday, February 04, 2010

HOME!


This is an area that people put up birthday and other signs as you enter into our neighborhood. Everytime I would see one I would think "One day I'm going to put up a welcome home sign for Jacques". That day has come!


We got to the airport and were in the waiting for arrivals area. When it was just minutes until the arrival I decided to get a picture of the kids holding a welcome home banner, balloons, and waving flags. Everyone else in the waiting area was real curious about what we were up to and a couple American Airline employees came over and asked us who we were waiting for. When I explained to them many of the other waiters cheered and were so excited for us. Then the AA employees totally surprised me and said "Let's get you to their gate!". We were so excited to be able to go and stand right where he would walk off the plane but we had just minutes until their arrival. They had to run and get us passes to get us through security. I had water bottles they had to run and dump out as well. When I asked one of the employees if he really thought we could make it on time he responded "I've gotten far less important people then you to the gate on time. Like politicians". I had a good laugh at that! It was something like out of a movie! It was a mad scramble to run with all the kids to the security area. Each of the boys had brought their own bags. I had a bag and a purse. We all had to get off our shoes. I think we took up about 8 bins!!! Then getting everything through the scanner was crazy enough until security told me I had to put our ballons through the scanner. I asked if that would pop them and they said they didn't know but we had to do it. So into the scanner I attempted with the balloons but they just kept flying back out and did not have enough weight to cause the belt to move. So the security guard grabbed someone elses bag and rammed it in to make it go. I cringed waiting for all the balloons to pop, but miraculously they made it to the other side. Once on the other side it was a mad scramble to get 10 shoes back on 10 feet, and gather back up all our things. By this time the plane had already landed and Jim called my cell phone. He excitedly told us he was there and about to get off the plane. I asked him to delay for a few minutes, which totally confused him. ;-) After gathering our things we all RAN to the gate and as fast as I could we scrambled to set everyone up with banner, balloons, and flags. Everyone waiting in the terminal just stared at us but we were on a mission. Then I called Jim and said "Okay, come out." I'm at a loss of word to describe what it felt like to see the man I love walk off a plane with the son we've waited so long for!!! From behind the banner we cheered and yelled for just seconds before we ran to him to give and get hugs. Someone sitting nearby took this photo for us afterwards~ we are thankful to have captured our first moments together!





Jacques immediately showed such excitement and kindness to each of the kids and the bond for all of them to him was instant! Everyone of us just adore him!!!

After gathering everyone and everything up we still had another exciting reunion. Jim's sister, Donna, and her family had shown up at the airport also to meet him. So off we went to introduce their new nephew/cousin to them. It made it all the sweeter to have them there!!!

It was around dinner time so we decided to all go have a bite to eat together before we all headed home. That is when I learned that Jacques had been sick to his stomach and also notice he had a bright red eye that was irritated and really hurting him. He sure isn't a complainer! I would have had no idea he wasn't feeling great if he had not told us. Then Luke started feeling sick, then Kyle, then Lovenie. Oh dear! Happy to report that they are all just fine this morning!


Welcome Home our dear sweet Jaco!!! It was one of the most wonderful moments in our lives to be able to finally bring him home. I've spent some time with Jacque in Haiti and KNEW that we would all adore him. However, having him here and really getting to see his personality and watch him interact with his new family~~~ we could not be any prouder of him! What a WONDERFUL person he is!!!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

WE HAVE JACQUES!!!!

Wow, what a whirlwind! After writing yesterdays post and sharing the joy that our son was going to be put on a flight... we started receiving news that he was NOT after all scheduled to be on a flight for that night! So this dragged on for hours... was he going to be on a flight or not? The later it got the more certain we were that we were right back to "maybe tomorrow". However, late into the night we got a very excited email from the orphanage director saying very clearly that our child had flown out of Haiti!!! However, we are supposed to receive a call from Department of State telling us when our child is going to be flown out of Haiti and where and when they will land. Hours later that call still had not come! Jim, Jim, and Debbie were met up with by the parents of another child expected to arrive. Together they all decided to take a chance to go to the Miami airport and walk around in hopes of finding out anything at all.

I was able to look up incoming flights from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti and saw that there was a flight coming in at 3 AM. With only that news the group of parents headed to the international flights concourse to see what they could find out about that flight. At this point it was way after midnight and there was nearly no one around. However, when they got there they were able to find someone with Department of Homeland Security. This person was able to look into the flight and tell them nothing more then the fact that there were for sure 6 orphans from Haiti on that flight. Our orphanage had sent out 5, but there was no way to know if that was them. Jim, Jim, Debbie, Marcy, and Jeremy ended up sitting in the airport ALL night in the hope that it may be our children. It was not until 6-7AM that one of the parents got a call with a question regarding the immigration paper work for their child, and then they were at last pretty certain it was indeed our children that came in on that flight! Just minutes from 7 AM they delivered the children to the waiting parents!!! Jim had called me to let me know when he had been told that Jacques would be brought to him in a few minutes. I asked him to call me again as soon as he had him. I then sat by the phone for 20 minutes waiting. When the phone rang I answered but instead of my husbands voice I heard a sweet voice say "Hi Mom"!!! That's when it hit me that he really is coming home! He really is here in America!!!! They had to go and finish up even more paper work and none of them had had any sleep so I have not heard anything again. I believe that they were planning to return to their hotel to attempt some sleep before checking out. We are hopeful that they will be on a plane this afternoon and should be arriving in San Francisco at 5:45 tonight! I will be taking all the kids and waiting with signs and balloons. So much to celebrate for this family today!!! By the way... we STILL have not received that call from the government to tell us that our child left the country, what flight he is on, and where we should go to receive him. God alone worked out all the details for us!!!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Speechless?

Seems a lot of my recent posts begin with not knowing where to begin. It's tough to blog when you feel nearly speechless at how INSANE life has become! However... so much to share at the same time.

So here's the current deal, I am back home with our children that are already home but not with Jacques. I'll pick up from where I left off. Remember my very excited post about Jacques coming home? Well, that was Friday. We had received a call from Department of State telling us that Jacques had been approved to travel and was ready depart. They did not know yet what flight he would be on but said they would be calling us back with those details. That night we were up late taking care of last minute paper work and then tried to get in bed in case we got the call in the middle of the night and had to rush to the airport. We also got an exciting phone call from very close friends of ours, Jim and Debbie, that they too got the same call. They had made the decision to jump on the first plane to Miami in hopes of being there when their daughter arrived. We had talked often about how amazing it would be to one day pick up our children together, and were just blown away that it was really happening! The next day, Saturday, we were sure since he hadn't come in the night before that it would be THE DAY we would receive our son. Each minute of wait for that call felt like HOURS. By 4PM our friends arrived and it was a wonderful reunion. They, however, had only had 2 hours of sleep and little food so were starving.

We excitedly headed over to an airport restaurant to share a meal together. Just as we were giving our waitress our orders security came running through telling everyone to "Drop your food and evacuate the building". We grabbed our carry on's and nearly ran with everyone else out the front door and then were told to cross the street away from the building. It was crazy! We had no clue what was going on, and still do not know what happened. After a while of standing around outside watching the show of the search dogs and security, we were allowed back into the airport. Also, that weekend was the Pro Bowl in Miami so nearly every hotel room was booked and the few that were available were so because they were a small fortune to get into! While finally getting our meal we discussed the hotel situation and decided that we would all likely be having a bit of a pajama party at the airport together! However, we made some calls and found a room that normally would have been way more then we would pay but decided we could share the room and split the cost. This was great as we ended up with a nice room AND got a lot of time with our dear friends that we see far too rarely. So off to the hotel we went where we waited, and waited, and waited for the call that our kids were on a flight. That call never came.

Instead we received an email from the Director of the Orphanage who had spent the entire day at the Embassy and was told that our children WERE NOT approved to travel! WHAT??? But, the Department of State themselves were saying they wanted to make 100% sure we knew we were approved and that our kids would be traveling. We assumed it was some big misunderstand between the offices and were disappointed and confused. That night before going to bed Jim G. (my husband is Jim L.) had the brilliant idea of sending out a desperate plea to every government email we had a contact with, including DOS (department of state). We were once again encouraged the next morning when we woke up to an email from DOS saying that they checked and reconfirmed that our children were indeed CONFIRMED that they were approved to travel. We passed this email on to the director and he promised to return again right away to the Embassy. This was now Sunday. We waited, and waited, and waited. When we did reach the director on the phone he said the kids were waiting to have an identifying photo taken. Certainly this was a great sign! We continued to wait, feeling certain that this day really was THE DAY! It wasn't until late that night that we received a disappointing email from the director. He said he had spent the entire day at the embassy with children with him and they had accomplished nothing more then a one minute photo of the kids. :-( Not only did we feel totally deflated but we felt so badly for him as that has to be so very frustrating! The rest of his email really crushed us! He said he was sincerely sorry for the misunderstanding and for our time and travels but told us our children would not be traveling right away... maybe by next weekend. We could not hang on that long. We realized we needed to go ahead and book flights for the next day and return home without our children. We felt totally defeated. There were quite a few tears until we gathered together in prayer. We knew for sure that there was a reason God had us there, that it had not all happened for nothing. After that we had received another email that had us very excited again! One of those emails that we had blasted out to every government office we had access to was the Department of Homeland Security. They responded and told us that they were contacting the embassy to attempt to get ALL the New life Link and Hope for the children of Haiti processed to leave the country. This was the answer to our big prayer! Not, just bring OUR children home but bring ALL the children home!!! We were renewed with hope and excitement, and a new focus!
We then began to excitedly discuss the possibility of getting into Port-au-Prince, Haiti so that if they do get the appointment we would be there to help with all the children. We prayed and prayed asking God to make it clear if that was HIS plan and not just ours. We prayed for a clear sign of what we were to do... hang on in Miami, try to get into Haiti, or go home and wait from there (because it could also drag way out).

Monday morning I woke up before everyone else and decided to head to the hotel business center and search for tickets to Haiti. I saw breakfast being served and decided to stop and grab a hot tea to take with me. On the way to get my tea I spotted a group of people and nearly froze in place. I couldn't believe what I was seeing! We had asked for a sign and I thought this could very well be it! However, I was tired, a mess, emotionally worn out, etc. and suddenly felt very shy (YES, me shy!). I didn't feel up to approaching this group of people but felt God was leading this. I struggled in my mind arguing in prayer that it was a crazy thought to approach them but God kept urging me on and assuring me that HE placed this group of people there and it would be wrong for me to miss out on what He had for me. So I made myself walk up and begin talking to these strangers. The results were some somewhat inside information regarding the adoption situation in Haiti that was coming from an extremely reliable source! Information that implied things were happening to speed things up that most people would not have been aware of. Information that there is NO WAY I would have learned of it had it not been for this source!!! Sorry to be vague but there is a reason I won't share the exact details. I rushed back to the room to share the news with Jim, Jim, and Debbie. This just sent us spiraling right back into the "WHAT do we do now???". I really felt strongly that this was the sign we had prayed for, but as a group we decided that it just wasn't enough to warrant us hanging out in Miami longer without more solid and certain information. We looked and looked for a way into Port-au-Prince, Haiti and just couldn't find one. It was settled. We would return home. I had ZERO peace that this was what we should do and continued for hours campaigning for us all to hang on longer in Miami! I really believed something was about to happen!

It did get to the point though that it seemed clear that I would need to return home that evening to take over with our children at home. I was WAY bummed to be returning home without Jacques. The original plan was for all 4 of us to head home but as we talked it through more we decide that Jim L. (my husband) was going to go ahead and stay behind in Miami. He was all prepared to live in the airport for as long as it took to receive our son! I was SO proud of him. We headed off to the airport and said sad goodbyes to Jim and Debbie as they headed to catch their flight. While in line to get my ticket I was constantly holding back the tears. Not only was I leaving without Jacques but I was also now leaving without my best friend/husband. The idea of him living in the airport without a safe place to sleep was no big deal to him, but I hated the idea of it. I did, though, believe we were doing the right thing. Despite being told that Jacques would not likely travel this week, I just KNEW it would happen very soon! We stood in line to get my ticket for about 45 min. Just as there was only one person left in front of us Jim G. called and told us that they had JUST received the phone call that their daughter was FOR SURE ready for travel! We were so excited for them and so torn about what to do, because our son was likely going to travel with her. Then as we became the first in line, our phone rang and sure enough... Jacques too was for sure approved to travel!!! So Jim was still on the phone with DOS when I went to the counter. The agent asked me where I was headed and I could only respond "I don't know!!!". Should I get on the plane? After waiting all those days for Jacques could I just go home and miss his arrival? Was there someone else that might take over with watching our kids so I could be there? So for the next hour we threw around ideas about what to do. Jim and Debbie had made their decisions and canceled their flight and rejoined us. They now planned to stay until they received their daughter. After much debate we decided that our children had been in the care of others for too long (even if those who were caring for them were amazing) and the right thing to do would be for me to return home. Minutes later I was saying my goodbyes to Jim, Jim and Debbie. I was torn between great joy over the good news and heavy sorrow over having to leave and not be there when he came.
So now it is Tuesday. While at first I was so sad to have to leave I am now happy to be home. I missed our kids so much after 8 long days away from them! However, the wait continued. As of this morning we had heard that 3 other HFC kids were confirmed to travel out of Haiti tonight but our kids were still waiting to be confirmed. It was while I was writing this novel of a post that Jim called me and told me that our son will be flying to the US tonight!!!! Along with our friends daughter, 2 of the children of another one of my closest friends, and 5 other children from the same orphanage!!!!!

So MUCH celebration tonight!!! Hours from now our son will be in the care of my husband and, Lord willing... tomorrow he will be in my arms!!!!!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Disappointment

Getting ready to travel home without our son! We've had so many ups and downs over the last few days and it's a long story so I'll update when I get home. Jim is staying behind and will literally be living at the Miami airport waiting on our son. Details to follow. Please pray for all involved.