Thursday, January 31, 2013

Heard Around the House: January 2013

We were in the middle of doing an art project when Noah's abruptly, yet earnestly asks:

Noah:  Mom, this is fun.  Is this your original idea?

Me:  Maybe, I guess so.



Noah:  You know what I want to do before I have a girlfriend?  1.  get high top tennis shoes  2.  get baggy jeans  3.  enter a skateboard competition, but I don't necessarily have to win.


Everyone, to Presley:

Don't put a fork on the cat.
Don't sit on the cat.
Don't put the cat in a box.
Stop putting kleenex on the cat.
Stop putting the remote on the cat.
(etc. etc. etc.)

yep, that was an entire box of kleenex covering the cat

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A First

My good intentions to blog regularly got derailed this past week, thanks entirely to a nasty little parasite called malaria.

Gary was hit hard, took some medicine, and after a very sweat filled week, he is as good as new.  Seriously, did you know how much sweat one husband can produce when enduring a fever for so many consecutive hours?  Let's just say, a very measurable amount.  It was rough, but he made it, and so did we.

On the bright side, because there is always a bright side, I learned to do several things around this joint that previously had been Gary's domain.  One, I learned to pump the water from the well to fill our cistern.  Secondly, I learned to change the water jug on the cooler.  Self-taught, thankyouverymuch.

We have a full week ahead of us, and are starting to battle colds.  The pain of a sore throat and headache pales in comparison to what Gary went through last week, so I'll just stop complaining right now.  I'll be back to update on several exciting things happening at Good Neighbor this week.

Have a great weekend everyone!
And... just because I think it's funny... we spotted this gem on the back of a tap-tap.  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Knock Knock

For the last year that we lived in our house in Chandler, I somehow found myself on a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses project list.  It started out with me not being able to handle any sort of uncomfortable confrontation.  On their first visit, I graciously accepted their Watchtower magazine.  On their second visit, I accepted compliments for how beautiful my children are, then introduced them.  On their third visit, they greeted me by my first name.  On their fourth visit, I reluctantly accepted their Watchtower magazine and silently promised myself that I wouldn't open the door then next time.  By their next visit, I had cracked their schedule and realized they were visiting me every Tuesday morning between ten and eleven in the morning.  This went on for months and months.

I came to expect the knock at the door, and then the persistent doorbell ringing.  I tried to run errands on Tuesday mornings because I got tired of convincing Mylie to crawl around inside the house with me, lest they spot us through the front window.  

They began waiting for me.  For how long, I cannot say.  They would wait, standing in the middle of my driveway.  Sometimes, I would keep driving past my own house, and circle the neighborhood until they left.  See?  I will go to great lengths to avoid confrontation.

One day, they tricked me.  They were hiding in a nearby van, and when I pulled into my driveway, they began to approach.  I did what any rational adult lady would do, and closed the garage door before I got out of the car.  Obviously, they knew we were home, but I still made everyone hide and be quiet once we were inside.  After about five minutes of knocking and ringing.  I gave up and answered the door.  Would you believe that I actually acted surprised that someone was at my front door?  No shame, this gal.

I finally got the nerve to tell them while I respected what they were doing, I just couldn't waste their time any longer.  I pointed to the "For Sale" sign in our front yard, and told them why were were selling our house and moving... that we were moving to Haiti as missionaries.  Christian missionaries.  And that I was very secure in my beliefs, but thanks for stopping by!

So earlier this week, I was hanging out with the kids when I heard a knock at our front gate.  Sometimes I don't answer our gate if we aren't expecting anyone, particularly if Gary isn't home.  After several minutes of knocking,  I ran upstairs to see if I could see who it was over the fence.  I saw a pair of nicely dressed men.  I deemed it safe, and went to open the gate.

After several minutes of a regular old broken English, broken Creole awkward conversation.  He pulled out, no joke, a Watchtower magazine.  Overcome with bravery, I put my hand up and just told him to put on the brakes.  Not really, I'm not sure that would have translated well.  I told him WE were here in Haiti as missionaries, so we're good on the religious beliefs front.  Thanks, but no thanks.  

When Gary got home I related the incident.  He told me he was sure those ladies from Chandler sent them.  I'm pretty sure he's right.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Housekeeping in Haiti: Laundry

I really don't know of one single person who is like, "Yay, I love laundry!"  I do enjoy having clean clothes, and don't really mind throwing a load in the washer, it's all the other stuff that comes after that, that really makes doing laundry a real pain in the keester.

November 4- December 17, 2012 changed all that for me.  I have a new appreciation for laundry, specifically washing machines.  We spent those first days in our new home handwashing all of our clothes.  I won't go into details, but coming into such close contact with clothing that has been soiled by a toddler, or child who consistently fails at wiping themselves in a thorough manner, is just plain gross. Couple that with the fact that we had to pump all of the water for washing in buckets by hand from the well, it was quite the task.  Washing one typical load, would take about an hour and a half, from start to finish, working the whole time.  

I'll come clean right now and tell you Gary did 9/13ths of all the handwashing.  He was a pro.

On that glorious day in December, when we got the plumbing for our washing machine done, it all changed, and I will never ever take doing laundry with a machine for granted.

 After a few extra steps at the beginning, doing laundry isn't much different.

 This was built as a Haitian kitchen.  When he lived here, the owner's wife did all of the cooking in this room.  There is only a sink and counter.  The ceiling is blackened from smoke, from the charcoal fire for cooking.

First, I have to unlock the laundry room.  It isn't attached to the house, and we're high security round these parts.  Next, I put a hose in the washer and then go back outside to open the faucet for the hose.  Then I turn on the pump, and fill the washer.  Because of this step, we can only do laundry when we have EDH (city power).  Our water pump will only work when we have EDH, and the washing machine takes so much energy that even if it was already filled with water when the power goes off, we can't run it when we're using inverter batteries.

After that, it's pretty much business as usual.  Of course we hang our wash on the line to dry.
Next week, I'll take you grocery shopping with us.  Be excited.

**Learning to live in Haiti has taken some pretty major adjustments, as you can imagine.  Just living in Haiti seems to be a full time job in itself.  I know that before I moved here, I wondered how we would do the simple things we did in the States.  This is the second in a series of blog posts where I want to document how we do the basic house stuff in Haiti and share with those who are curious how we do things around here.  As a disclaimer, we're living a pretty Americanized version of Haitian living.  The majority of Haitians living here do not live the way we do, a fact that I am equally blessed by and ashamed of.**

Click here for Part One

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


On  Tuesday we celebrated the first birthday of the year at Good Neighbor.  I made cupcakes, 48 cupcakes.  As I was baking, and mixing, and frosting, and sprinkling, I also had the first bit of alone time I've had in quite a while.  I turned on the music, and let my mind wander.  My Momma heart was thrilled I could make cakes for a child's birthday.  To fill in a spot for a day, for a child without a momma.  It also hurt, hurt for this child without a mom, and for the other children we serve without a mom.  In our family, as in most families, a birthday is a day of celebration.  A day of making someone feel special.  An affirmation that we are glad they were born this day, that they entered the world with a purpose.  It is just cake, one might argue.  But if a child does not receive cake, or the affirmation that they were indeed born with a purpose, that they were no mistake, that there is a family who is glad they were born all those years ago, will they know they are valued?  The day to day, I Love You's that my children receive, they know.  If a child does not receive those daily I Love You's, will they know they are loved?  
That is my goal.  With the daily I Love You's, and with a simple act of making cupcakes, I want to speak into each life and affirm, you are valued and you were born with a purpose from God.  

The two birthdays that we celebrate this week are for children who are in the process of being adopted, and next year on this day, they will have a momma and a daddy, and extended family.  They will be home.  But for the others, we will continue to love and speak truth to them.  

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Housekeeping in Haiti: The Kitchen

Learning to live in Haiti has taken some pretty major adjustments, as you can imagine.  Just living in Haiti seems to be a full time job in itself.  I know that before I moved here, I wondered how we would do the simple things we did in the States.  This will be the first in a series of blog posts where I want to document how we do the basic house stuff in Haiti and share with those who are curious how we do things around here.  As a disclaimer, we're living a pretty Americanized version of Haitian living.  The majority of Haitians living here do not live the way we do, a fact that I am equally blessed by and ashamed of.

Our kitchen is very similar to one you would find in any home across America.  A basic Haitian kitchen is usually set apart from the house with just a sink and a place to burn charcoal to cook over.

We have a propane stove.  At first, I was pretty terrified to use it, especially lighting the pilot light on the oven.  I had images of my hair and face set ablaze by a fireball of propane.  Actually, it isn't that bad.  An advantage of using propane is that I can cook meals for my family even when we don't have electricity.  A disadvantage is that the oven doesn't have an exact temperature setting to bake with, so a lot of my baking is trial and error, and usually never exactly the same results from time to time.

Our dish washing is all done by hand, first with basic detergent washing, then a rinse in water with a cap full of bleach.  All our sink water comes from the well, so to help prevent most (not all) stomach bugs, we kill germs on clean dishes.  It is sometimes hard to get dishes really clean because we don't have a hot water heater, so if we have a really greasy pot, I'll boil water to wash it with.

All of our drinking water, or water we cook with that isn't boiled, is from these jugs.  We go through about five in an average week.  We use this water to brush our teeth with as well.
See that light on?  That means we have city power... yay!

We bought a very basic refrigerator and microwave.  We leave the microwave unplugged unless it is in use to save on electricity.  I have become like the electricity patrol, I am always on the lookout for non essential things plugged in sucking our battery power!

Our inverter is also in our kitchen.  When city power, called "EDH", is on (which is usually about 16-18 hours a day, sometimes more, sometimes less), the inverter uses the electricity and charges these batteries.  When city power turns off, the inverter converts the battery power into electricity for our house.  They can last for about eight hours, after that we are without electricity completely.

The lightbulb hanging over our fridge is our "EDH indicator".  It is connected to a plug that is only hooked up to EDH power.  When it is on, we know we are on EDH, when it is off... I run around the house unplugging things!  My kids get very very excited when it comes on, because it means they can play video games.

Cooking takes more time here, because most everything I make, I make from scratch.  This is NOT because I'm trying to be Mom of the Year, but because things we want to eat are not available here, or are completely ridiculously expensive.  Case in point, below are some kitchen staples that most people have in their homes and are fairly inexpensive in the U.S.
The prices on these items are in gourdes (Haitian currency).  
1 liter of milk, approx. $2.00
Corn/Vegetable oil, approx. $8.00
Flour (although I have since switched to local flour which is MUCH cheaper than imported),  $12.00
1 Dozen Eggs,  approx. $3.80

I am slowly getting the hang of cooking here.  The first few weeks were pretty rough, we ate ramen noodles. A lot.  A lot a lot.  Yesterday I made my first loaf of homemade bread, and the kids are SO EXCITED to eat PB&Js today for lunch.  

Next week I'll write about the highs and lows of laundry in Haiti.  Spoiler alert:  there are a lot of lows.