Just Saying Hi!

I’m alive!

The first round of getting two of my wisdom teeth out in my first year of college was a cake walk compared to the past week and a half. Seriously. Giving those bad boys an extra 18 years to hide in and around jaw bones was pa bon.

I was thinking I would be down for a day or two then slowly start getting back into my daily stuff of life here, but no, my body had other plans. Instead, I spent all of last week and the weekend hanging out on our bed hopped up on a nice rotation of Tylenol 3 and super extra strength Ibuprofen. The swelling alone didn’t come down until the weekend. I didn’t get any bruising, which is probably the most surprising thing of all considering how hard they were working on my jaw.

I was determined to get back to work on Monday, and did, but realized on Tuesday after some crying jags that I wasn’t ready to not be taking the drugs. I think I really wanted to be okay and had a hard time accepting that my body just wasn’t there yet. I’m still taking the meds, but the intervals are spreading out, which is a good sign. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t rush something like this because my body just won’t let me. Yesterday was  a much better day that involved well timed doses of medicine and a lot of work being done, followed by me promptly shutting down my computer at the end of the work day and going to take a 2 hours rest/nap. I feel so much better today, so I think we might be adopting that routine for the rest of the week.

My time laying in bed wasn’t wasted though! I’ve mentioned that I’m going to be working at taking over all things website for the mission in the coming months. I’ll be honest, this is like learning Greek for me. I get it, but there’s this whole language and world that is fascinating and yet completely baffling, and I need to dive in or it’ll never work. Over the weekend some things started to really come together mentally for me and I’m excited. Things that didn’t connect before, do now, and it makes sense. I have a lot running through my head because of it, and a lot of stuff to work on.

One project I’m particularly excited about, but don’t want to say anymore about right now. Yes, I just did that. “Hey, I’ve got this amazing thing, but you can’t see it. Na na na na na!” In due time, my friends, in due time. What I will say is that it’s creative and it’s going to satisfy a giant need in me :)

The downside of all this creativity flowing like a rushing river is that it kind of makes me cranky crazy. Yes, you would think that it would cause happiness, but it’s the processing that gets me going a bit nuts. I told Chris yesterday it was like him reasoning through a problem. He very much needs to be in his head, pace, and just work it out until he gets to this place where the pieces start to come together and he just gets it. For me, it’s the same process, but it’s this crazy flood of ideas where one thing leads to another and I have to try and process them all and put them where they need to be, while trying to figure out how to get to the end result. Until I figure it out I can be a bit of a bear. Once I start working out the details and can be hands on that crankiness turns into creativity and I get giddy. Then I realize that I’m the only one that might be excited about the fact that I just figured out how to do something in Photoshop and it’s kind of anti-climactic. It might also involve me whacking Chris from time to time and saying, “You need to be excited about this!” There are certain advantages to only sitting 2.5 feet apart for most of the day…

In family news, one of the most exciting things that’s been going on around here is that Little Mister no longer uses diapers. And there were angels singing! He may have been resisting at first, and not loving the process, but we are there! Do you want to know what’s even better? I apologize if this is over sharing, but as a mother of a boy I was dreading a year of having to help him in the bathroom. I’m so over this stage of kids needing me to help them do basic things. It’s so freeing when your kids start doing things they’ll be doing for the rest of their lives, for themselves. So, I was excited we weren’t in diapers any more, but not excited about the bathroom assists that would be our life. And then the miracle happened – he, in just a matter of 24 hours, learned how to do his business “like Daddy”. Mmm hmm. He may have been a giant of a baby to push out, and be wearing size 5 t-shirts, but that also means he is tall enough to stand up and get the job done. And it’s amazing and he loves being a big boy!

Did I mention that it’s amazing???

Do you know what’s even more amazing?

When you get to this stage and are so happy that life might be actually moving forward and then remember that there is still the dreaded night training – and then they just night train themselves.

Yep, he’s waking up in the night and asking to go the the bathroom. And then going right back to bed.

Have I mentioned that it’s amazing?

I just feel like we’re stepping into this stage of enjoying life with our kids in a new way. A way where they aren’t reliant on us for the basic feed, water and wipe duties, and shifting to rely on us for more emotional support and love and where we can form relationships with them in different ways. Where we can do different things as a family. Where our kids can be more actively involved in different aspects of our life here, rather than us juggling all the balls and watching them occasionally drop on our heads.

Chris and I know that we’re in the prep stages at the mission for a giant leap forward. We’re waiting on a few grant funding opportunities that we’ve just left in God’s hands, but are starting to move again and allow us to ramp up production again after several years of going oh so slow. We’re on the brink of being able to start the most major development project the mission has ever seen – building and moving to our new land. There are things in the works, but nothing concrete yet. Peggy is here and great addition to our team. She’s such a blessing. Our kids getting older means that we can feel less pulled in some ways and more involved in others and they can be involved in new ways. It really is exciting on so many levels.

I would love prayer this week for continued healing, but also because Chris just left this morning for a 12 day trip to the US to spend some quality time with his brother. He hasn’t taken a solo trip for “fun” in years. He was away earlier this year for almost 3 weeks, but it was all work focused. When Ben suggested he buy Chris a ticket to come spend time with him and so they could go on a motorcycle trip together I was all for it. Both of us are just better on so many levels when we get time to regroup. My trip to Peru earlier this year was so good for me. When we’re always around each other, and literally sitting only a few feet apart, it can be hard to appreciate each other, to appreciate our family, and this whole life we have here. Time away lets us rest and come back feeling refreshed and ready to go again. It clears my head and helps me be excited again. Pray that he has a good time away and that things just keep plugging along here.

Well, this lady has some work to do so I’m going to sign off. If you don’t see anything on here for a little while just know that I’m madly working out my creative juices behind the scenes. Or napping.

Have a great finish to the week!

~Leslie

These Kids…

I thought that after the last post it might be fun to finally share some of my pictures. If nothing else at least the grandparents will be happy ;)

Our kids both have big personalities. Alex, when he’s in the right mood, is such an easy subject. Olivia is in this stage where she tries to perform for the camera so it’s hard to get good, natural pictures of her right now, but every once in a while she gives me something to work with. One of the advantages of having white walls in and out along with big shady trees outside is that we get amazing light in our house at different times of the day, as well as out on the deck. I especially love the light in our bedroom. Most of these were taking on our bed. They definitely weren’t edited to the extent that they could have been because I think that there’s something sweet about keeping kids natural to an extent, remembering bumps and scrapes and food on their faces.

Kids May-3

Kids May-5

I LOVE that picture of Alex so much. I don’t even have words.

Kids May-9

Kids May-13

Kids May-22

Kids May-25

Kids May-30

 

Little Mister insisted on playing with the swim goggles.

Kids May-27

Kids May-34

Kids May-33

Kids May-35

Kids May-39

Kids May-38

Kids May-42

 

Kids May-58

Kids May-47

Kids May-43

Kids May-56

 

Kids May-61

Kids May-62

Kids May-68

Miss O loves being dramatic :)

 

Vacation Log 2014: One

We are here in the Pacific Northwest!!!

In true Haiti form, leaving was not necessarily simple, yet it could have been much more complicated. On Thursday evening the car developed a rod knock in the engine, and because we rely on it so much Chris wanted to get it to the mechanic so he could be working on it while we’re away. He made arrangements and the tow truck came from Port au Prince on Friday evening to get it and take it to town for us. Friday was also our last day of work, so after wrapping things up in the work yard we took all the staff to Kaliko, a nearby resort where we get free entrance, for a fun afternoon.

Saturday we got up, finished packing up, closed up the house and headed to Port. We called the mechanic to see if we could stop by and found out that our car hadn’t arrived yet even though it was supposed to be dropped off the night before. Not gonna lie – we wondered if we had just paid $300 for someone to steal our car. After calling the tow truck we found out they were on their way there and had just gotten back late. We got everything squared away there, told Alex that, no, he couldn’t take the cat that was there with us on vacation and then went to a different mechanic to get our blue truck, as we call it. Got some lunch and then headed to the airport.

From that point on everything was easy. I think when you’re a parent with young kids, and you have to travel internationally you worry about the entire experience. No one wants to be that family on the plane with the annoying kids, the whole time knowing that you’re trying your best and are exhausted and that their ears feel like they’re going to explode and they’re overtired and hungry… Chris and I are SO thankful that our kids are traveling rock stars. They both did so well in all of the airports and on the planes. We flew Delta, so it definitely helped that there were personal tvs in every seat.

More than anything though, our family is just in this really fun stage where Olivia is old enough to do certain things, and Alex is the most enthusiastic kid you’ve ever met. Olivia was like a boss pulling her own carry on like she’s been doing it for years. Alex is so excited about everything. Seeing the world through his eyes is amazing and so fun. We have enjoyed the trip so much so far simply because of our kids. In the past few years it’s felt like a circus, but this year has just been sweet and easy so far, and restful and fun.

We overnighted in New York and of course the hotel was amazing for the kids. We got a pretty good deal on Hotwire that ended up being a Sheraton within minutes of the airport. It really was nice and the service was great. We only got about 6 hours of sleep because we needed to be up at 4 am to catch our 7 am flight to Seattle. So thankful we were still in our time zone because it was only 40 minutes earlier than Chris’ alarm goes off most mornings, so not a huge blow to the system.

The kids were again amazing on our flight to Seattle, and our family was fabulous at being pack mules to get stuff from baggage claim to the curb so our friend Paul didn’t need to pay for parking. We got 4 suitcases, 4 carry ons, 3 backpacks, 2 kids in carseats and 3 adults into a Subaru Outback. Good thing we’re used to being in Haiti where there’s always room for one more!

After the hour drive to our friends house we had a quick lunch, then Chris went to work at tightening things up and connecting others to get the van running for another season while I sorted through the luggage to repack backs for the next six weeks and loading stuff into the van. We also had stuff that was ordered ahead of time to go through and put aside for the trip back. Chris was anticipating it could take us several hours, but our flight landed at a little before 10 am, and by 1:30 pm we were on the road heading to his Mum and Dad’s. We arrived late afternoon with lots of time to settle in.

As we drove here I couldn’t help but think about how much the places we come from are ingrained in us, a part of us. I know some people are more nomadic and flexible and shift and change to their surroundings like a chameleon, but I’m one of those people that has roots. I didn’t grow up in the US, but I grew up in a similar climate, and every time I come back to this part of the world, whether it’s British Columbia or Washington state, it feels like home. It’s the same for Chris. It’s deep in us. Haiti is home now, but we will always come home here too. Many people comment on how much we must love the heat and the Caribbean to live in Haiti, and the truth is, while it’s beautiful we will both feel more at home in places with mountains, pine trees, and weather that shifts and changes even in the summer to the point that you can wear jeans and sweaters. We love the cooler weather and look forward to wearing layers. And no, we don’t love the heat in Haiti. The past week before leaving was miserably hot. It’s nice to snuggle under down blankets while having the window cracked and fresh cool air coming in.

Being here is so good. It’s wonderful.

This morning I woke up and turned another year older, and while I have a lot of thoughts about that that are probably better in another post, I will say that I’m so thankful for today and this week. For many of the past 8+ years of birthdays I’ve either been in Haiti away from the rest of our family with few options for birthday fun, or been in Canada or the US but busy with other things, missing family or any other random assortment of not super fun birthday options. Being here, on vacation, with family is great. This is the first year I’ve celebrated my birthday with Chris’ family and it’s fun to share this with them too. I got to snuggle with my littles today, which is a great way to get the morning going. Mum, Olivia and I went shopping and knocked some things off my list. This will sound completely weird to anyone who doesn’t live in Haiti, but one of my favorite stops today was a new store where 1/3 of it is produce. Again, a show of my BC roots is how excited I get about produce. Apples, berries, veggies… when you come from a fabulous growing pocket in the earth, seeing so many beautiful veggies and fruit just makes a girl want to buy it all and then cook like a crazy person. Sigh. I am home!

I was actually really looking forward to this week and it was the main reason I so badly wanted all of us to be feeling better – which we are, by the way – because there are so many exciting things happening.

Today is a day to just sort of putter around and do what we want and settle in. A few weeks ago as Chris and I were working one day I noticed he was madly printing off maps and other things, and when I asked I was told to mind my own business because he was planning my birthday. Um, okay…

For anyone that knows my husband well, you’ll know that gift buying completely stresses him out. Every single birthday and every single Christmas for the entire time we’ve been married has led to some comment along the line of, “You need to just tell me what you want for your birthday/Christmas,” with lots of exasperated sighing and what not. This year though, I was informed that the day after my birthday was to be set aside on our schedule for a day of just Chris and Leslie time because he has a whole day planned for us. He didn’t want to do it on my birthday because he knew we would both be recovering from jet lag and a three hour time difference. I was shocked that he’d planned an entire day, and I’ve made myself not ask any questions because I want to be as surprised as possible. The only things I know are that it’s an all day deal, and that we’ll be doing a bunch of walking in and around Portland. He asked this morning if I wanted to know what we were doing and I said no so I could savor the surprise :)

Wednesday Mum is treating me to a much needed hair cut, lunch and a pedicure for my very sad toes. They will be very happy toes though! On Thursday we’re heading to the coast for a few days to one of Mum and Dad’s favorite get away places. Basically, rather than that having a birthDAY, I get a birthWEEK!!! And then I get to celebrate all over again in a couple weeks when I see my family in BC. Turning 36 is pretty darn good if you ask me!

So, here we are. Happy, wearing layers and feeling restful and excited for the next 6 weeks. Thank you so much for praying for our family in the past week or so as we’ve battled the chicken fever. We’ve been feeling very blessed.

Oh, and I can’t leave this without sharing a few kid highlights from the trip…

IMG_2292[1]

Over the hills and through the woods to grandmothers house we go…

IMG_2295[1]

Me and my little cheeseballs on the plane from Port to New York.

IMG_2297[2]

The train was SO fun. Before my phone powered up Alex had his nose glued to the window and there were a lot of “Yook! A airplane! We on the train!!!”

 

IMG_2298[1]

Bedtime story in the hotel.

IMG_2300[1]

Circling New York City yesterday morning. The rectangle of green next to the river is Central Park. We got to see the Freedom Tower and the Empire State Building from the air, which was really cool.

IMG_2301[1]

Any Haiti person will understand why this is exciting…

When we were driving here yesterday we stopped at a gas station to fill up. While Chris was inside buying a quart of oil I decided to wash the windows on the van, starting with the one that Alex was sitting next to. I wish I would have gotten a video of him watching. Apparently when you raise your kids cross culturally where window squeegees are not available it makes the whole process that much more amazing. At one point he was getting ready to beat Olivia on the head to wake her up so she could watch the show. Have I mentioned how fun this trip is going to be with the kids this year??? :)

IMG_2306[1]

The rain that just came pouring down as I was writing this.

In case you didn’t know it, we own a ’69 Volkswagen van here in the US that we drive in the summers when home. The kids think it’s awesome, and so do we. Mum and Dad have a little wind up one that was on a wedding cake from our reception here back in 2006 that they just held onto, which Alex has now found. He’s been packing it around and even tried to take a nap with it. About 5 minutes ago he asked me where it was, while carrying it around… I guess he’s just gotten so attached to it that it’s now become an extension of his arm.

Have a great week!

~Leslie

Where Things Have Landed

The last post was a big brain and heart dump for me. Of the best kind though. It’s been fun to see the conversations it’s started just with friends here in Haiti, either from just sharing the same things or because they read the blog and started talking about it. I love that kind of exchange after we share our stories. That’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? That connectedness.

Diving in to all of this has been kind of crazy. Chris and I spent more time chatting about all of it on Friday night after I posted and it was just so refreshing to be able to see where I’m really at with all of this, and I love that he’s so supportive of it. I think it helps that he’s seen how unhappy I’ve been in the work sense, so in a way I think there’s some level of relief there :) I think more than any of that though, it was exciting to look back over the past 10 years of the missions history and to see how God has walked beside us and transitioned us through things, even before I actually joined the staff here in Haiti. The process of him bringing Chris into a leadership role, then bringing me into the picture as his help meet and seeing how our gifts, skills and abilities have complemented each other over the years and moved so many things forward has been amazing. As we look at the future we’re both excited about the next stages. We and our board have done so much foundational work in the past few years and it really feels like we’re moving into that stage where God is putting the meat on the bones in a new way, so we can do more. Having Peggy here is a huge step forward, one that we’re really excited about.

I can’t tell you how fun it’s been in the past couple of days to feel the freedom to pour myself into learning. Yesterday I had some admin stuff that Chris needed help with, and once I got it out of the way I spent the rest of the day pouring over the user guide for Lightroom 5, a photo editing program by Adobe that is so much more than any of the free stuff I’ve been using. I haven’t been this challenged in a while and it feels good. My head is tired, and so is my body. I think I need to stop letting myself scroll through Pinterest until midnight looking at pins of photography tutorials…

It feels good to learn and to practice new skills. To think of all the ways that I’ll be able to incorporate this into what I do at the mission – new things that will just add more to what we’re already doing.

So that’s been me, personally, in the past few days.

Today is Olivia’s last day of school. I’ll be honest, it’s a mixture of excitement and dread. Excitement because it’s summer vacation! Yes, we still have to get up early and do the work day, but it means less stuff happening in the morning.

No more homework!!! Oh my word, this is the thing I’m most excited about. Seriously. Homework has been a battlefield and I wasn’t sure we were going to make it out alive. This weekend we needed to push through Olivia’s last book, her math, to get it finished so it could count on her report card. We managed to do it, but it wasn’t pretty. The kid has been working on grade two stuff, so it’s just naturally getting harder for her, but now she can take a break! We do have books for her to work on over the summer so she has something to do, but we’re going to take a little break…

Dread… yeah, I love my kids and I love the break from the school routine, but it takes about a day and a half before boredom sets in and they’re going crazy. Alex is at a better age and they play together really well now. Yesterday I was stifling laughter when they said, “Okay, let’s fight,” and then proceeded to have a mock kungfu type throw down. Think of the worst fight scene you’ve ever watched in any movie and replace the main characters with a 6 and almost 3 year old. Slow motion, holding hands and lots of grunting and turning in circles… yeah, that went down in our kitchen yesterday and it was hysterical. I love that they have such huge imaginations. I love it even more when they aren’t really fighting and screaming at each other in the process.

To counter the boredom and real fighting I’ve been building up an arsenal. Last August after we got back from our summer trip and had almost 6 weeks of down time before school started we almost didn’t make it. This year, I promised myself it would be different. Thanks to some generous friends we have a bunch of work books to just reinforce stuff Olivia learned, but that are more fun looking and a variety of stuff that she’ll enjoy. We have craft supplies. We have new books. Sidewalk chalk. Bubbles. So many things! My plan is to be more intentional about doing stuff with the kids between now and when school starts again. Just to save my own sanity.

Not sure if I mentioned it on here but Olivia is changing schools next year. She’ll be going to one that offers the same curriculum, but is only 5 minutes from our house. When we first looked at starting school they weren’t at the stage where it would have been a good fit for her, but now they are. We’re SO looking forward to not having to drive as far. Right now we’re driving at least an hour per day between the two trips to drop her off and pick her up. Her new school starts later in the morning, and because it’s closer we just don’t have to be ready to go out the door before 7 am. She also starts about 3 weeks sooner, so less down time in the summer where we have to keep her busy. Very excited!

The other big excitement around these parts is that we’re within the 3 week window of our summer vacation. It’s always nice to get away, but I think we’re really looking forward to this year more than most. Last summer was full of great opportunities to see so many friends and family, but it was also so much driving. So much. A lot of stops and a day here and a few days there. It was fun, but not very relaxing.

This summer we basically land in Seattle and then after reorganizing some things we’re hoping in the van and driving down to Chris’ Mum and Dad’s. We don’t need to worry about getting the van all outfitted, etc because we left it almost ready to go, and we can do any needed things once we get to their house. We’ll be there for almost two weeks, and we’re all really excited about it! From there we’re heading up to Canada with a couple stops to visit people on the way, but the trip will be nicely broken up. We’ll be in Canada for the rest of our trip doing a variety of things. One of Chris’ sisters lives in Canada, and his brother who is down in California, are both flying in to spend some time with us there which we’re excited about. We’ll have time to go camping and visit with family. My dad is back in British Columbia after working out of province for two years, and I’m so looking forward to spending more than a couple days with him as has been the case when he’s whipped into town for a weekend while we’ve been there. Mostly we’re just looking forward to relaxing and having a good time.

Well, time to go organize some craft stuff and then I get to hunker down and read some more users manuals. Sounds SOOO fun, doesn’t it. I guess when you enjoy something it is fun, even if it seems like a mundane task.

Here are a few of the pictures I was playing around with in Light room yesterday. The fun thing is that they didn’t need a ton of adjustment. These will probably be more exciting for the grandparents :)

May 2014-3

May 2014-7

 

May 2014-9

Have a great week!

~Leslie

We’re doing this in bullet points.

Weeks since my last post?

  • I came down with Shingles mid-March. So very thankful for the support network around us. We had a doctor friend come by the same day that the red bumps started to show up and I was able to get antiviral meds the following morning, which pretty much eliminated all the pain and things ran the course pretty quickly. The crazy part is that the only thing I can think about that triggered it was grade one homework. I wish I was joking about that. After a good holiday where I truly relaxed for the first time in many years, coming back and spending a week fighting with my daughter to the point we were all in tears over homework is what did it. Not all the other stuff we’ve been through in the past, like arson, death threats, earthquake, adoption, everyday stresses – grade one homework. Yeesh.
  • While I got through most of my illness unscathed, I wasn’t expecting the fatigue. It doesn’t affect everyone, but almost three weeks later I’m just slowly starting to feel more like myself again. This explains the absence on here.
  • Chris is away right now. He’s back in Canada and the US on a fundraising trip. This will be the longest we’ve been apart as a family since the month before Alex was born where Olivia and I went back to Canada and Chris came a month later. We’re managing, but it’s not fun. It feels very long and I keep telling myself if we can just push through to Monday we’ll be at the halfway point and then we can start counting down.
  • On a good note, Chris has had several opportunities to share already, some in new places, and people are already asking when we’ll be able to do future presentations. Such a good thing!
  • Along that vein, I got our summer flights booked last night. It’s always such a process! I mean, spending a bit of time every day for about a week watching fares. My mom was and is again working as a travel agent so I’ve picked up a lot of tips over the years which help, and I have a good idea of what we should be paying, but sometimes what we should and what is are two different things. I was feeling stressed because flights can be so expense, especially when you’re paying 4 full fares. I had narrowed things down to one option yesterday and had that reservation on hold but when I went to pay for it I got a message that they couldn’t use my Canadian card. Funny because they haven’t had a problem with it for the past ten years… I was going to phone to see if I could pay over the phone, but decided to sniff around a bit more and found a much better deal with a different airline that literally saved us at least $600. I say at least, because that was compared to the tickets I was not apparently allowed to book. In comparison to the other options it was around $1000 in savings. Felt like a divine intervention and we are thankful.
  • Having had Shingles and knowing it’s most often stress induced or revived, I’ve been thinking about stress and what I can eliminate. One thing that’s been really hard this year is just feeling worn out with the kids. It’s not just me, it’s both Chris and I. So much work. They both have such big personalities, and while it’s often funny, there are times where we just feel exhausted in the discipline realm. With Chris gone I’ve had the space to think and pray through a lot of things specifically relating to me and I feel like I’m making good progress. Our kids have never been off the wall or anything like that, we just realized that we were feeling like we were on repeat all the time, so it’s been a case of having to firm up some boundaries, but in a way that lets the kids know this is the line. I’m in the process of reading “Shepherding A Child’s Heart” as recommended by several friends and it’s really good. The summary is that I’m feeling less stressed in this area and actually enjoying the kids even though I’m in this situation where I’m on my own and doing everything (Chris is a fabulous Dad/husband and I MISS him when he’s not here tag teaming with me!).
  • The kids actually crack me up most of the time. I wish I could bottle the stuff that comes out of them because it’s like gold. The hardest part is not busting out laughing when they say something so ridiculous that it’s funny or endearing. Alex is in this phase where he’s trying to figure out where he can exercise his opinions and independence, so it’s very normal for him to all of the sudden yell something like, “I said NO!” But about something that you wouldn’t normally say no about. He’s also in a stage where he likes to blame his sister for things. Like when he takes a drink of water from the cup we leave by his bed, while lying down, and it spills all over him, which shocks him and results in him crying. I go in and he says, through jagged crying, “Yaya throwed water on me!” “Yaya” is dead asleep and has been for hours… Every. single. night.
  • Olivia is in a stage where she tries to tell jokes, but it’s usually something like, “Why did the zebra walk through the jungle? Because you have orange hair!” Enter the stifling of laughter from the parental unit and a “Um, okay.” While Chris is away I’ve been trying to teach the kids jokes that they can tell Daddy over Skype when we talk. The two year old can nail a joke, with a side of “ba dum dum” but the 6 year old? Yeah, she has a zebra on her head or something.
  • Alex has started giving inanimate objects personalities. Like tonight after dinner the tongs on the counter became “my sister” and he was in a very intense battle with a tea towel protecting his sister. While his “sister” was in his hands. At one point I tried to tell him to go put the tongs in the sink and I was quickly corrected with a, “That’s not tongs! That’s my sister!” Yes sir!
  • Two days ago on the way home from driving Olivia to school we got hit by a chicken. Yes, you read that right, WE got hit by a chicken. While driving about 100 kms/hour down the highway I heard a loud thump hit the side of our car. When I looked in the rear view mirror I saw feathers flying as the chicken hit the shoulder. We literally got hit by a chicken. When we got home Alex and I checked the back passenger door and found a dent where the thing hit. Don’t worry, it just added to the plethora of dents already there. Alex went to open the door to see if the chicken was in the car…
  • And, since the chicken story was so exciting, when we talked to Nanna and Daddy on Skype later that day every time anyone asked Alex anything about anything he would say, “And a chicken hitted the car and it went “BOOM!” with arm flailing. The best part of this whole story is that he can actually tell it in two languages, with just as much animation :)

Okay, time for this girl to turn in for the night. The good thing about Chris not being here is that I am getting caught up on my rest because I can go to bed at any point after the kids are in bed, so you know – 7:30. And, I’m almost regretting the decision to not move up to a king sized bed when we had the chance last year because apparently I do like to sprawl when I sleep :( Being gone for this long Chris is going to have to fight for his side of the bed back.

Have a great weekend!

~Leslie

Blustery Wednesday

It’s deliciously cool here right now. The thermometer is still reading 83*F, but it’s overcast and breezy and it feels like winter. We’ve noticed that the cooler weather has taken a lot longer to arrive this year. Usually I would have been waking up and needing to wear a long sleeve shirt for the first couple of hours for a few weeks by now, but this morning was the first time. Hmmm. Maybe the polar vortex got things all mixed up?

Chris’ parents are on their way home now after a wonderful 10 day visit. It’s been so great to have both sets of parents here in the last month. The kids are at an age where they “get” it now and to see the difference in those relationships has been so fun. I think Alex, especially, showed the biggest difference. He’s just talking so much more and interacting in such a fun way now, but more than anything he remembers things and can talk about them later. Frequently today he kept asking where Gramma and Grandpa were and I had to explain they went home. We’ve had the same conversation about Nanna and Pappa many times in the last couple of weeks.

Mum and Dad brought in a ton of stuff for us. It was so overwhelming we literally waited until the next day to go open suitcases, and Chris and I had to take turns going through the bags so we could each go over lists and make sure everything was there. It was and we’re still being reminded of everything they brought in.

One of the most exciting items for me was my new camera :) I knew I had gotten a good deal on it on Ebay, but when it arrived I was shocked to see just how good it was. Sometimes those buys can be risky. This one though – complete gem. This thing looks and acts brand new. I showed it to a friend and told her it was bought used and her reaction was, “That is used???” I checked the shutter count (number of times the shutter has opened and closed to take a picture) and it only had about 3500 shots on it – and it’s rated for about 100,000 before it needs to be replaced. It has literally hardly been used. I feel so blessed!

As you might remember, one of my goals for this year is to learn how to actually use the new camera. The 40D is definitely a step up from my old Rebel. I’ve been having fun practicing and trying to learn how to use the manual settings rather than just shooting in “green mode” (which I actually hate because it always wants to pop up the flash). If you have any recommendations for online tutorials or classes, I would love them! You can leave me a comment.

I thought it might be fun to share some of my pictures from the last week. These have had some minor editing, but not a lot, which makes me feel really good. I would love to learn how to use this thing so well that I don’t have to do a lot of editing, but I realize that’s a life long project :) These were all taken with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens.

IMG_2578

IMG_2598

IMG_2611

IMG_3044

IMG_3096

IMG_3242

IMG_3279

IMG_3284

IMG_3310

IMG_3326

IMG_3067

IMG_3133

IMG_3140

IMG_3146

IMG_3164

I had some good subjects :)

~Leslie

70 lbs, Baby!

Chris’ parents are coming next week and we’re all very excited. They used their Air Miles to book first class seats. While we’re elated for their step up in comfort level and actually jealous because we’re always going to be that family that walks by the first class passengers with two kids in tow who may or may not be needing a nap, what we hear when someone says “first class” is three free 70 lb checked bags PER PERSON!!! There may have been some high-fiving involved too.

And then we went shopping.

Chris knew this fact before I did so he was already ordering all sorts of crazy boy things like inverters and battery chargers and grain grinders and ratchet straps and sacks of malted grains and all the heavy things. I kept asking if he’d left any weight for me and his parents and he just kept saying things like “SIX FREE 70 lb BAGS!”

I finally got my act together and did my shopping. You know, people say it’s exhausting going shopping in real life, but let me tell you – online shopping is hard work people! Especially when you have two kids that are constantly popping their heads under your elbows and saying things like, “Ooooh!! What are you looking at Mom? Can I have a snack? I want juice! CARRY YOUUU!**” while you’re desperately trying to remember all the things you told yourself you needed to get while you had the fabulous opportunity of SIX 70 lb BAGS!!! (**That’s Alex speak for “pick me up”. I keep asking him when he’s really going to carry me, but apparently I am not funny. Nor am I getting carried any time soon.) 

Moving on.

So, I got my shopping on and I managed to kill what felt like a never ending list of wants and needs. When I emailed my mother-in-law to tell her that I was finally done I had to assure her that my things were small and could fit in the tiny crevices (unlike some people I know, ahem) even if it felt like a billion packages were arriving. Because there would literally be a billion packages arriving. The list that I sent her of what to expect was as long as my arm. You don’t believe me?

Ahem.

IMG_1810[1]

Yeah. I wasn’t exaggerating.

And now that we’re in the “less than a week” window I find my brain regularly thinking “Oh yeah! That XYZ is coming next week with Mum and Dad. Sweet!” That, and things that I knew might need to be replaced, are breaking or falling apart or just sort of squeaking by. They know reinforcements are coming and they can move quietly into retirement. They know.

Some of those said items are undies and training pants for Little Mister. Am I excited about that? Um, yes. Just today I thought, “We might be getting closer to the end of this diaper thing.” When I started ordering things last month I thought it might be a bit presumptuous, but now I’m thinking otherwise. He’s been pretending to go potty, which means he basically sits there and gives me status updates like, “it coming” but never actually does anything. He’s got what to do with toilet paper down pat, though there’s never any actual need for it. But hey! We’ll chalk it up as one point for the home team.

Anyway.

In the past week he’s been getting more and more vocal about his bodily functions and insisting on diaper changes right after. Good thing, right? I think yes. Chris has also taught him how to take off his diapers so he can do things like get into the bath at night more independently. Independence = good. Taking diapers off in the yard and running around butt naked and then finally coming up and telling us he took his diaper off = not so good.

Yesterday Alex was taking a “nap”. I use that term loosely because some days he goes down and sleeps like nobody’s business. Other days, he just pretends he’s sleeping and when he finally “wakes up” we find that a cyclone has gone through the kids room. It is blond and cute and yells “CARRY YOU!!!”

When Alex “woke up” yesterday, not only had the cyclone whipped through, it did it naked. And it told us that it had pooped. And then wiped it’s own butt.

All three people over the age of 6 in our house stopped dead, said nothing for a moment, and scanned the room looking for it. And we didn’t see it. Yes, there were wipes on the floor, but they weren’t even dirty, just spread everywhere. Hmmm. Then we asked some questions and I peeked in the diaper pail.

Yep. The kid took off his own diaper, dumped it in the diaper pail, and then proceeded to wipe his own butt. And not a trace of it anywhere else in the room.

And in that split moment all I could think of was, “Soooo glad those undies are coming next week with Mum and Dad…” And while I’m excited that we might be seriously moving in that direction, a part of me is very aware of the fact that my baby boy is growing up. I have entire posts written in my head of all the super cute things that he’s doing and saying right now and part of me wishes I could bottle them and keep them forever, while the other part of me is so excited to see who he will become. Isn’t that the great clash of parenting?

So, while I’m looking at our diapers and wondering how much longer we’ll be having to pack them around and what not, a big part of me was also very happy to have Little Man snuggle in deep tonight and fall asleep on me in the rocking chair. And we may have sat a bit longer, just so I could bottle it a bit.

~Leslie

Happy Belated Thanksgiving Canada!

This past weekend marked Canadian Thanksgiving. We’re a multi-country family with Canadians, Americans and Haitians all represented. In fact, out of the 4 of us, I’m the only one who doesn’t have 2 passports. Chris is a dual citizen and was able to transfer citizenship to Alex. We haven’t done it for Olivia because as an adopted child it would involve an immigration process and gets spendy. I haven’t gotten my green card because I just haven’t needed to. Olivia still has her Haitian passport from when we finished her adoption.

So, we get to celebrate two Thanksgivings in our family. Typically Canadian Thanksgiving is a low key roast chicken dinner at home. We may invite a friend, but that’s usually the extent of it. One year we went to a big Canadian Thanksgiving bash at a friends house where about 20+ Canadians had gathered. There tends to be more American missionaries here in Haiti, so any gathering of large numbers of Canadians are fun.

This year we decided to host Canadian Thanksgiving for our missionary group. The funny thing is there are only 5 Canadians in a group of about 40 :) When we extended the invitation, we weren’t sure how many would come, so we were happily surprised when the RSVP’s started flying in and everyone who had been invited was excited to be there. We did a big ol’ potluck, because our group is good at those.

We decided to try something different to see how it worked out cost wise, and bought two local turkeys. On Friday morning Yonese brought our little friends to work so they could meet their fate. We were a little surprised when Alex quickly grabbed the leg tie on the big one and started walking it around the yard like a puppy.

IMG_1520[1]

In case you were worried that he was in shock after it was butchered, he wasn’t. In fact, a couple hours later I looked down into the driveway to see him walking over from the work yard where the deed had been done, carrying a turkey head by the comb. My first world self almost freaked out, then I remembered that we aren’t living in the first world and if he was okay with it, I guess I could be too. Besides, if we lived on a farm, that would be normal if we had chickens.

We had a great day with all our friends. Everyone chipped in with tables and we had a nice afternoon with great food under the coconut trees. As we sat around playing some games later and then moved on to going around the circle to share something we were thankful for I was kind of overwhelmed with gratitude.

IMG_1525[1]

You see, being in another country full time means you miss a lot of family stuff. For example, my brother and sister in law recently had their second baby, a sweet little girl. I wasn’t there when my nephew was born, and had to wait 4.5 months to meet him. I won’t meet Lucy until next summer. That stuff makes me sad. Holidays are hard too because we know family is gathering back home and we aren’t there. BUT, that said, as I looked around I was reminded of the blessing that God has given us in our missionary family here. When I first arrived in Haiti, Chris and I were some of the youngest members. Less than a year later we were the only young married couple. Then we were the only young family after Olivia came along. There were other people in our age bracket, but they came and went with shorter commitments to Haiti. As I looked around on Sunday I saw 40 people that are a core group in our lives, ranging in ages from 70+ down to the first few months of their lives. Where we used to be the youngest and only young marrieds/family, I now saw several young families with kids of all ages. We have singles. We have newly-weds. We have mid-lifers. We have retirees. We have surrogate grandparent and auntie/uncle types for our kids. We have people we look to as mentors, and people we want to spend time with when we just need to unwind. We have people we can feed into because we’ve done the hard work of settling here and starting a family. We have Canadians, Americans and Haitians – all creating beautiful blended families whether it’s through marriage, adoption, fostering or coming alongside brothers and sisters in Christ. God has truly blessed us with this group, and we’re so thankful for each and every one of them!

It was a wonderful, relaxed, fun afternoon! That evening I got to talk to my brother, and on Monday me and the kids got to talk to Nanna and Pappa. For the first time Alex was really into talking on the phone, which was a kick! There was a lot of excitement from the littles!

Sadly, Monday and Tuesday also got spent as sick days in our house while me and the kids were down with a stomach bug that’s been going around. Thankfully we’re all better now :)

~Leslie

Can I Get An Intern?!?

  **Edited to Add: Links for the website and the Volunteer page are now there. See, this is exactly why I need an assistant…

I think when people look at our website they think Clean Water for Haiti is a much bigger organization than it is. Yes, we can rock the work and are really effective, but aside from our Haitian staff it’s often just Chris and I working out of our make shift office in our living room to get it all done. Ryan has been a wonderful volunteer, but sadly we have to say good-bye to him next Friday so he can go back to the “real” world and go be responsible and go to grad school or some crazy thing like that. Boooo!

We love people come and volunteer with the mission through our volunteer staff program, but Chris and I have come to a realization in the last 6 months that, while we typically take people that are interested in water treatment, that’s not really what our needs are at the moment.

Here’s the sitch. Chris is the Executive Director, and has a fair bit to deal with. I’m the Admin Director, wife of the ED, and mom to two kids under the age of 6. That’s a full plate. We work from home. I’m sure you can imaging the scenario. If not, let me elaborate for you:

  • Get up super early to make breakfast while Chris goes down to the yard to get the work day going. Kids may or may not be awake.
  • Get into the day by doing a round through the house to tidy up and make beds.
  • Attempt to check email and get my work started. Alex comes over begging for me to “snuggle” him. Him being on my lap means I’m pretty much just trying to save everything on my desk.
  • One of the workers needs something.
  • Olivia comes over and is bored.
  • The kids go play. They fight. There is screaming (from them) and time outs (from us).
  • More playing. More fighting. More noise.
  • Work, work, work.
  • Chris gets an idea or realizes he needs something and because he has a short memory and doesn’t want to forget he insists I help with it right then.
  • One of the workers needs something (maybe it’s work related, maybe they need Tylenon, maybe they chopped off a finger…)
  • More playing and fighting and time outs and me getting distracted.
  • Someone wants a snack.
  • Work, work, work.
  • Fighting, playing, crying, and someone is dirty and needs a nap.
  • Something is falling apart/broken/blowing up and Chris needs to go deal with it.
  • Olivia is bored again.
  • Someone wants a snack.
  • And, it’s the end of the work day…

This is every. single. day.

I am not getting as much done as I would like to. I have all sorts of projects on the back burner. I have my regular work that gets done weekly or monthly. Chris and I try to balance the parenting through the day and he’s fabulous at trying to take care of the kids if I have a lot on my plate. But, he can also delegate a lot of things from his plate to other staff. Truck needs repairs – delegate. A socket needs fixing – delegate. Need to know delivery schedules – delegate. Me? I have no one to delegate to. That, and there are a lot of projects that I want to see done, but I either don’t have the skills or I don’t have the time to do them. The result is that I often have way more than I can physically do, and I feel pulled in a lot of different directions. I love the work I do for the mission. I want to be a mom through the day for my kids. I want to be a happy wife.

I need help. Our family needs help. The mission needs help.

So, this is the deal. I’m looking for someone that wants to come and serve Haiti and serve the mission as a volunteer for at least a year. This position could essentially be an internship, or it could just be someone coming because they have a heart for serving and for the mission field and want to use their skill set in a unique way.

This person will serve as an assistant to me with a focus on being very involved in a media capacity as well to help with fundraising, awareness and promotion. But, because of the nature of what we do, they will also need to be the flexible type who is willing to jump in wherever they are most needed.

There are some specific things I’m looking for:

  • Background in web design to help with web site maintenance and updates
  • Ability to film and edit video for promotional and fundraising purposes
  • Photography skills would be an asset
  • Good handle on social media platforms to help with fundraising and promotion
  • Able to use Word, Excell and other programs of that nature
  • Interested in writing and helping with mission blog posts and newsletters
  • Able to help out with other admin tasks like data entry and preparing materials for staff and training classes.
  • Happy to help host visitors and training classes.
  • Willing to be flexible to help out with any other work or projects that arise around the mission.
  • Demonstrates a high level of maturity, integrity and leadership abilities
  • Interested in living cross culturally, learning the language, etc.
  • Creative.
  • Ability to work well on their own and as part of a team.

This person needs to have a relationship with Jesus, and be excited about the idea of living in a family environment. Like most missions, we are volunteer run and each volunteer is responsible for raising their own financial support – aka, we don’t pay. And, like most missions, there is a small staff fee that every volunteer pays monthly of $150 to help towards the cost of food, power, water and accommodation. If a volunteer is willing to commit to more than a year this fee will be waived after the first year. That said, this person would have their own house with all the fixings and furnishings to run away to even though they would likely spend a considerable amount of time with our family. Whoever ends up in this role will need to be okay with being around young kids because we’ve got ’em and they aren’t going anywhere.

This volunteer position would be ideal for someone who really just wants to serve, knowing that their help is going to help us do what we do better. In the end, that’s saving lives.

There would be a good amount of “office” work, but that would consist of working on media stuff as well as helping me with other admin tasks through out the week. Because we want any volunteer with us to be excited about what we’re doing and to have an intimate knowledge of that there would be plenty of time to work in the work yard to learn all the ins and outs of the Bio-sand filter world, opportunities to go out on deliveries and to be involved in all aspects of what we do. This role will also not only help us as a family and as leaders here in Haiti, but will also assist our Board of Directors as some of them are carrying certain aspects, such as web site maintenance. Having someone here to do those jobs will free up their time to focus on other things such as fundraising – something we very much need!

Is this you? If so, fire me an email at office@cleanwaterforhaiti.org or use the handy dandy form below. If it’s not you, do you know someone who might be interested? If so, pass this on to them.

Aside from emailing me, any applicants will also need to go to our website and fill out the Staff Application Package found on the Volunteer page. I do need to receive an email though as I’m in the process of updating our application pack (again, sitting on the back burner because someone needed a snack…) and want to make sure all applicants have the list of “extras” that aren’t included in the current application package.

If you have any questions please leave a comment or contact me directly.

Thanks!
~Leslie

Super Fast Post

We’re a few days into a Vision Trip, and time is a bit limited so I’m going to do a bullet point post of randomness, just for you!

  • Picked everyone up on Saturday. The day involved two airport pick ups, a visit to a police station to retrieve one of our motorcycles that resulted in a whole other interesting experience, a grocery shopping trip, a lot of driving and sweat.
  • We have three guests this week, and we’re enjoying all of them. One woman is Haitian and visiting Haiti for the first time since she was a baby. It’s been really fun showing her the country of her family’s roots and talking to her about all sorts of things. Each Vision Trip is unique and that’s what makes it fun for us!
  • It’s always like Christmas when we have Vision Trippers come because they can bring in bags full of supplies for the mission and our family. I spent a little time yesterday sweating like a marathon runner in Hawaii while trying to put our new couch cover on, and am especially enjoying my new reading glasses. I’m pretty sure the ones I was using weren’t really the strength they claimed to be because my eyes are much happier now.
  • Alex has been trying all sorts of new vocab and most days sounds like a little parrot. He’s also putting words together into little sentences, which is really fun. He’s not going to be a quiet, shy child, that’s for sure. God blessed us with two social butterflies.
  • Ryan took one visitor up the mountain to Fon Baptiste today to go deliver some bucket filters and follow-up on some filters we delivered a few months ago.
  • On Wednesday Chris will take everyone on a repair day so they can see different parts of the installation and maintenance process for the filters and have an opportunity to be in the communities where the filters go. Repair days are a bit different than delivery days because we visit fewer homes, but they’re often more spread out so our guests will have the chance to see a lot of different things during the trip.
  • Our missionary friends that have been away for the summer start to arrive back this week. I always love it when everyone is back. It makes me feel a bit more “complete” here :)

I won’t leave you hanging without telling you about my interesting experience. In a nutshell, I dropped Thony off at a police station on the way to town on Saturday so he could get one of our motorcycles that had been seized because the registration had expired. We thought the police would ask for “storage” fees, and had been advised not to pay. They did, I initially refused, but because we couldn’t get a hold of our contact within the police department for advice we decided to pay, but to take badge numbers in the event that anything needed to reported. In the process of writing down the “chief’s” badge number he got angry that I was doing so, and forcefully grabbed my arm so I couldn’t write it down. I had already finished, and very loudly informed him that I was a resident with all my papers and that I knew I had the right to take badge numbers whenever I felt anything was “off”. After a stare down he let me go and I went back outside. Thony, as well as 6 or 7 other officers had seen and heard the whole things (I was actually intentional about being loud for this reason) so the officer knew that he had made a big mistake. He was later trying to be appologetic, but mostly because he knew he had made a big mistake. I hadn’t been rude or pushy at any point and there was no reason for him to treat me that way, especially not as an official that is there to supposedly serve and protect the population.

We’re going to be following up through the right channels, but not because I want heads to roll or anything like that. We know the corruption that’s within a lot of government offices here, and we try to push against that when we can. Aside from that though, we’re also aware of how regular Haitian citizens are often treated by the police. Let’s just say they aren’t served and protected in most cases. I am a white woman, which sadly brings with it certain advantages. For this to happen to me as a white woman in this country is almost unheard of and would be frowned upon from many sources. BUT, what about all the other people here that don’t have that advantage. How much worse would they have been treated? If following up on this means that officer has to even think really hard about how he conducts himself, then the effort was worth it. If it sets an example that can maybe do a little something about fighting corruption within offices that are supposed to be serving the public, then it will be worth it.

Happy Monday!

~leslie