Sunday, January 30, 2011

Eventz update

My Mom has basically been sending me hate mail for the past three weeks demanding some updated pictures of Eventz.  Apparently she wants to see how big her one and only Grandbaby is getting.  So here is a little update for everyone!

Eventz is huge.  I weighed him a few days ago and he was 17 lbs 1.8 oz.  He has almost double his weight since coming home from the hospital in October.  And he's getting really tall too, but unfortunately we have never measured him, so I don't know how much he has grown in that department!!

His top two teeth finally cut the surface, so now he has four, two on bottom and two on top.

Eventz crawls all over the place.  He still mainly army crawls (on his belly) but he can crawl on his knees like a big boy when he chooses too.  He will go a few steps/crawls on his knees and then goes back to his belly.  He is much faster on his knees when he chooses to go that way.  

He can now pull himself into the standing position.  We are working on getting him to roll the ball to us.

About a week ago Eventz learned how to wave and now does so on command, when he wants to that is.  Often he chooses not to.

I love that in this picture you can see a reflection of palm trees in his glasses.

His hair is getting so long and curly.  It used to be perfectly straight.  Haitians don't cut their kids' hair until after their first birthday.  We aren't sure if we will cut Eventz hair when he turns one or not.  We want it to grow into a fro, but we might trim it to make it look a bit better!!  Eventz will be one Feb 28, less than a month!  I am already thinking about how to decorate his cake!  We went to a birthday party two days ago and he didn't know how to eat the cake by himself, so we will need to do a lot of practicing within the next 3 weeks, which Nick is excited about!!

Eventz loves to do art projects, but normally ends up with more paint on himself and the table than he does his paper!

A few weeks ago we took Eventz to the beach for his first time!  We were both very excited because Eventz loves the water and we were interested to see how he would do!

We put him down in the sand and he crawled all the way to the water and let the waves come crashing into his face!!

And he only had little bit of sand on him afterwards.  When I took his diaper off, he had about a pound of sand inside!  It took days to get it all out of his hair!

He loves playing on the playground and has even began going down the slide, head first I must add!!

He crawls back and forth through the little tunnel and laughs the entire time he does it!!


And then he crawls right to the edge and makes me afraid that he is going to fall off!

 Eventz loves to stand up in that window behind him and lick all over it, because he knows just how sanitary it is!!!

Each day I fall more in love with this face...

 and that smile!  Isn't he just precious??

Monday, January 24, 2011

Baby Doc

About a week ago Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as Baby Doc came back to Haiti unexpectedly.  He was the last dictator of Haiti and has been living in France in exile for the past 25 years.  Preval, our current president, recently lifted that exile, but no one really thought he would return.  There have been a lot of rumors as to why he has finally returned and what his real motives are.  One of the biggest fears amongst the international community is that most Haitians are too young to really remember when he was in rule.  The average age in Haiti is 21, so most weren't even alive when he was in office.  It seems that a lot of people have forgotten all the horrible things he did and all the people he killed.  They now seem to be focusing on the positives that he did while dictaor.
Here is an article written by Frank Thorp, a free lance journalist living in Port au Prince.  He is author of the On the Goat Path which is listed on the side of my blog!  It's well written and so I decided to just repost it here!!

In a dimly lit room at a guest house in the mountains above Port-au-Prince, the press anxiously awaited something that had been promised to them every day over the past week, but never delivered.  Since Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier had mysteriously returned to Haiti on an Air France flight on the evening of January 16th he had not spoken to the press, not even uttering a word to any of the hundreds of journalist covering his homecoming.
Behind a over-sized wooden table in the dimly lit room stood a short older Haitian man in an olive colored suit, his hands on back of a large wooden chair embroidered with red fabric.  He looked down nervously as dozens of cameramen and photographers jockeyed for position in anticipation of what was to come.  The man in the olive suit looked to the side, saw someone approaching, pulled back the chair, and then stepped away.  From a hallway attached to the room walked Duvalier, he sat down on the chair and a paper statement was dropped in front of him.  This was it, this is what we were waiting for…
Duvalier Speaks
“Dear friends of the press,” he read in French as flash bulbs filled the room with light, “Thank you for having responded to my invitation today.  I take this opportunity to speak to my fellow citizens.”  His voice seemed strained, like he had a mouth full of cotton balls, but his delivery was better than expected.  Since returning to Haiti, he seemed to be unaware of his surroundings, and some even thought he had the look of someone with Parkinson’s, but when he began talking it made it appear that it was all an act.
The question on everyone’s mind since the bizarre return of the exiled dictator was why he had returned.  In his statement he inadequately answered that question: “I wanted to pay homage to the victims of the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010,” he explained while reading from his paper statement, “which caused, according to official estimates, the death of 316,000 people. Unfortunately, I did not arrive in time for the anniversary.”
Duvalier Fist Bump
For the past week Haitians, journalists and the international community has been speculating as to what the real intentions of this unexpected homecoming was.  This speculation was broken down into five educated guesses:
1) He missed Haiti, and wanting to see his buddies (according to his lawyers)
2) He was sick, and wanted to die in his mother-land (rumors were flying that he had pancreatic cancer)
3) He had returned to help Haiti, even though it was completely unclear how he would actually do that…
4) He wanted to be President again (but because he was named President-for-life before, technically he never stopped being President, right?)
5) He was broke, and he needed money…
In the end it turned out that number five, that he needed money, was the most likely reason.  Duvalier has returned to Haiti in an effort to unlock six million dollars in frozen funds in a Swiss bank account.  According to a new law in Switzerland, if he returns to Haiti without being prosecuted for crimes related to the money, his chances of getting it back into his own pockets becomes much better.
In addition, reports have said that he has until the end of January to do so, making this trip more strategic then heartfelt.  While I’m sure Duvalier would love to help this struggling nation get back on its feet after the earthquake, I’m not exactly sure how him getting that money, instead of returning it to the people who he stole it from, actually helps anyone other than himself.
Duvalier at Court
But Duvalier had a snag in his plan, and was asked to come to the Parquet (or courthouse) to be questioned.  There a judge opened an investigation into charges that he embezzled funds, took part in corruption, and other dastardly things before being released while the investigation continues.  In Haiti, charges are proposed and then investigated by a judge who decides whether those charges should be brought to court.  That investigation could take up to three months, after which a proper trial would begin.
The problem is that the statute of limitations in Haiti is between 10 and 20 years, and because he’s been gone for 25, it may be impossible to hold him accountable for many of the crimes he committed during his dictatorship.  Amnesty International thinks differently.  “There is no statute of limitations on crimes against humanity,” explained Gerardo Ducos at a news conference on Friday, “Duvalier needs to be held accountable for his crimes now so that others don’t think they can get away with this in the future.”  He’s right, but unfortunately for him there appears to be a major disconnect between how the Haitian people perceive Duvalier’s return, and how the international community perceives it.
“I think it’s a great thing,” explained one resident of the Petionville golf course tent camp speaking about the former-dictator’s return to Haiti, “When he was here there were jobs, the streets were clean, and there was no crime.  The country was good back then.”   And while there is no doubt that Duvalier was a tyrannical leader, killing anyone who objected to his way of ruling, the people here see those times as better than it is now.  “Preval has ruined this country,” he explained, “we should have Duvalier as our president now, he could bring change.”
And this message is echoed throughout the city.  Even our landlady, whose father was killed by the Duvalier regime, considers his return as insignificant.  “It’s just a distraction,” she explained, “We have so many other bigger problems to deal with, why would he come now and make things complicated?”  And she’s right.  The reality is that this story has distracted the country, and the world, from the more pressing issues that this country is facing right now.
Two weeks ago the Organizations of American States (OAS) concluded a review of the presidential election results saying that the Preval-backed candidate, Jude Celestin, should be excluded from the second-round run-off, and that Michel Martelly should be inserted in his place.  Since that announcement, Preval has come out and said that the review is just a suggestion, and it doesn’t need to be followed, and now the country is still waiting for the Provisional Electoral Committee (CEP) to announce who will actually be going on to the next round.  According to the UN, the final election results will be announced on January 31st, and Martelly said in a new conference on Friday that if the CEP doesn’t go with the OAS’s recommendation, then his people will be back on the streets fighting for their vote. (We all remember how awesome that was…)
All of this coupled with the United States ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, coming out and saying that if the OAS review is not implemented then both US funding, and possibly funding from the UN, for future aid projects could be withdrawn means that this country is on the verge of another collapse.  Add the ongoing cholera epidemic and the continuous need to help those left homeless from the earthquake, and this whole Duvalier thing seems more and more ridiculous.
So after 6 minutes of talking, Duvalier finished his statement, stood up, and walked away.  The moment we had been waiting for had come, and was now gone.  As he finished his statement, about two dozen Haitians erupted in applause behind us, having snuck in while we were focused on the former dictator’s first speech in Haiti in over 25 years.  Later they told reporters that they had been paid to show up and show their support for Duvalier, and that his people had let them in so they could cheer for the cameras.
Duvalier at Hotel
What this whole debacle has taught me is to keep my logic at the door when operating in Haiti, as nothing seems to make sense in any way that you would typically expect it to.  If you would have told me two weeks ago that Duvalier would be here now, I would have laughed and called you an idiot (in a nice way…of course).  If you would have told me that Preval would shrug off a review of the election results (that he asked to be conducted, BTW) and said they were simply a suggestion, I would have scoffed and said that would be stupid.  But now I’m forced to prepare for the illogical in a place that could really use some logic.  Now there are rumors that Aristide may return, which seems TOTALLY ridiculous, but now, not so unbelievable.  God forbid there was some structure here, god forbid there was some order.
According to Duvalier’s people, he will be staying in Haiti until the investigation into his past offenses are complete.  “Everything that has a beginning,” explained one of his advisers, “must have an end.”  But for Haiti, this is just another speed-bump on the road to recovery, and a soap-opera that is diverting the world’s attention when it’s needed elsewhere.  Hopefully the “end” will come sooner rather than later, so that we can focus on what’s important, and not on what’s not.  Holding Duvalier accountable for his crimes is a necessary step, but it shouldn’t take precedent to the recover effort, because the past is the past, and the future here is grim.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Too many possible titles to choose just one!

Nick and I have come up with so many good titles for this post that we just can't choose one!  Here are a few...


*I've been wanting to get some exercise...but not like this...
*Taking our Moto for a walk
*I don't have a chain
*Nou pa gen chen
*I've been needing to fix that, I knew it was about to break
*At least we didn't run out of gas
*I would have rather ran out of gas
*Wow, should have worn different shoes
*She does this twice a day?
*Walking a few miles in her shoes
*This quick trip just got a whole lot longer
*Good thing we asked her to stay for 4 hours
*Really, none of the trucks are at COTP?
*Thats not how you left
*Weren't you riding that when you left?


Ok, I could go on, but you get the point!!  And I'm sure from reading these you can kind of figure out what this post is going to be about!

Earlier this week Nick and I decided we were going to go check out Open Door, another mission near by because Nick had met one of their head guys at the airport and when we looked at their website we were really impressed.  (hint hint, look at their website, it's a good organization!!).  We didn't really know where they were, but Nick searched on google earth for a while and found out how to get there.  We could have gone the long round about way on the main road, OR we could take a much faster way there, however it would include us crossing not one but two rivers!!  How do you think we went, through the rivers of course!!

We made it there just fine, checked out the organization, which we were very impressed with and started heading home, thinking that we were only going to be gone for about 1.5 hours when we told our nanny 4!  We decided to time it and see how far away we were for them!

We were on the bank of the second river, getting ready to cross and I told Nick that it had only been 5 minutes since we left.  We were about 3/4ths of the way across the river when we heard a loud noise and the bike quit moving.  I hopped off as Nick informed me that the chain had broke.  His comment...

"Yup, I've been needing to replace that, I knew it was about to break!"

Really... you knew it was about to break and you took me on a ride into the middle of no where.  Great!!

Nick immediately called Rikerns to have him come get us, but Rikerns was in town with the red truck, and our white truck was gone as well.  In other words, no one could help us!

We were still about 5 miles or more away from home!!  YAY!!!  We pushed the bike to the edge of the river when all of a sudden we heard some guy whistle at us.  We were then swarmed by about 8 men and 9 children (all of which either were completely naked, or basically naked.  Those wearing shorts were so short that they really did NO good.  And I'm not just talking about the children, the men were the same).  They began looking at the moto and Nick asked if they could fix it and how much it would cost.  Everyone started laughing and became really excited because we spoke Creole!  They told us they would fix it for free and ran to one of the dump trucks that was there gathering sand and grabbed a small box of tools.  They tried working on it for several minuets, but didn't have the right size wrench, so Nick made them stop before they stripped the bolt.

Nick and I left the group and started walking towards home once again.  Let me clarify real quick that we were in the middle of no where, so there wasn't any real hope of finding someone with the right tools or with a new chain.  So we walked, Nick pushing the bike, me trailing behind him!  We walked for about a fourth of a mile before a truck came up beside us, and two of the guys who had been trying to help asked if we wanted them to pull us.  Of course we said yes, so I hoped in the cab with the men (these two were fully dressed!!) and Nick held on to a rope with one hand and steered the bike with his other.

I began talking to the men and told them that I work at an orphanage for babies.  He got really excited and asked if I live in Lagossette, to which I said I did.  He informed me that he was Manno's cousin, a guy that kind of works for us and runs Kid's Alive which I've talked about in the past.  Of all people who could have helped us, it had to be a relative of someone we know.

They pulled us for about 2 miles until we got to the main road.  There was a guy there who had some tools and was going to fix it, but then we realized that while we were going the chain had fallen off the handle even though it was wrapped a few times.  

And once again, we were walking cause our friends had to go the opposite direction.  At least now we were on a paved road, so it was a bit easier for Nick to push the bike.  We were still about 2 miles from home though!

For those of you who have been here, we were on the main road leading to Milot and we had to walk down that and then through the sugar cane short cut and home through Pomgrasia.

Along the way we were asked about a thousand times if we needed help.  I'm sure most people thought we had a flat tire and wanted to help fix that.  Each time we said, nou pa gen chen, we don't have a chain, and then the person who would offer would nod and drive off on their WORKING moto.  We must have gone through this about 100 times!  We made it almost all the way home when Rikerns showed up with the truck and we loaded the bike into the back and we finished the journey.  

We got back just as our 4 hours were up so luckily Milouse didn't have to stay any longer than what we had asked her to!  We each had a blister on our foot that became pretty bloody.  I guess we were both wearing the wrong shoes.  Neither of us were planning on walking at all!

This experience was kind of humbling in it's own way though.  One of our cooks lives out towards Milot  near where we were dropped off at the main road.  Each day she walks to and from work.  It's quite a distance and it really made me realize just how far she walks each day.  Walking is nothing new to Haitians.  For most, it's their only form of transportation.  We often have families that walk for hours that come to our gate looking for help.  I couldn't imagine doing that all the time, especially if I was carrying my child or something else heavy like we often see.  Or walking that far pushing a heavy bike like Nick had to do!!

I think I'm going to change my blog name from "common visions" to "the misfortunes of the Stolbergs."  Seems like that is the most common theme I write about eh? (yes Carla the eh is just for you!!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011


On Tuesday I accompanied Amy on a trip to Port with two of our children who needed to have catscans done.  I have only been to the airport in Port Au Prince, never anywhere else.  From the air I have seen the tent cities that still cover the landscape.  But from the air, I can't see the people, the children that live inside.  I can't judge the size of these tents, or the closeness of it all.  I can't see the living conditions inside of these areas.

But from the ground, I can get a better idea.  As we drove through Port in our air conditioned taxi, we drove past tent city, after tent city, after tent city.  They seemed to never end.  The entire area was covered in tents.  With two young children, I obviously didn't get out and explore, if I had I'm sure I would have been touched even more.  In some ways, I didn't need to entire these cities, seeing them from the road was real enough.

These tents aren't anything special, cheap tents that we could all buy at walmart for a few bucks.  I'm sure a lot of them have holes in them and leak when it gets wet.  Most were tiny 2-3 man tents, and I imagine that there are whole families of 5, 6,7 or more people living in their with all of their worldly possessions.  They aren't just staying in it for a weekend of fun, they have been living in there for OVER a year now with no hopes of anything changing in the near future.

These tents, aren't right next to a beautiful river or over looking a rugged mountain range like the tents Nick and I normally stay in.  They are on sidewalks, court yards, sometime right on the street.  They aren't secluded and by themselves.  They have about 6 inch to a foot in between them and their neighbors on EVERY side.  There is no privacy, no security, nothing, just them, their tent, and prayers for a better life for themselves and their children.

The doctors office we went to was right next to the Palace which was also kind of interesting to see.  The entire building basically collapsed, and still to this day has not been repaired or even cleaned up.  It's a reminder everyday of what happened.  Can you imagine if the white house collapsed and we did nothing to fix it.  Can you imagine if completely surrounding the collapsed white house were tent cities and people suffering.  It's unimaginable.

Looking around, there were still piles of rubble everywhere.  You could still see houses that had collapsed and are now sitting like accordians on top of each other.  Driving by, I wondered what it would have been like to be in these homes, to feel them shake.  I couldn't help but think that there could easily still be a body inside that was never recovered. 

At one point I thought about the scene from Saving Private Ryan where half of the house had been blown off and you could look right into the inside of the home.  This was the case many times, where half the home fell down and the other part still stood.  You could look right into where a family used to eat or spend time together.  Where are they now, probably in a tent somewhere.

There were house that fell over and were caught by the building next to them.  It appears that many of these buildings could still fall down at any minute, coming down on top of whom ever happens to be walking by at that moment.

As we drove through the city and I stared at all of the things that I could do nothing to help, but at the same time I held a little guy in my arms and stroked his head trying to get him to fall asleep.  I realized that I can't help those that I am seeing outside my window, but I can and am making a difference in the two little guys life in the car with us that day.  I held my little guy close thinking of how differently his life could be and thanking God for allowing us to be a small part of his story.  I have very high hopes for both of the boys that we were with that day and know that they are going to go far and surprise us all.

I was a little emotional as I stood behind the glass watching him lay, sedated, strapped to the table, receiving his cat scan while images of his brain flashed on the computer screen.  He's an amazing little guy that I have very much come to love, and here he is getting a cat scan, something that most Haitians could never dream of, especially people from our part of the country.  Getting to Port and then paying for the fees to have it done, are all way more than any of the people we work with could ever afford.

This whole trip was an eye opener for me.  Port au Prince has WAY more infrastructure than Cap Haitien, and it makes me feel like our area could get there soon too.  It opened my eyes to the fact that there is such a difference between being rich and poor in a place like this.  There is no way that about 95% of the population could ever afford such tests, but for those who can, their lives are way different.  I dont know if any of this makes sense, but it was all a bit much to take in that day and I'm glad I was able to be a part of it.  More importantly, I am thankful for every child that we get to help and spend time with.

Friday, January 21, 2011

From 4 to 1

Last week I had 4 children, and now I am down to just one.  The twins moved downstairs and are staying with some short term volunteers until they are big enough to move out to the baby house.  And the little 3.5 year old who was living with us for the past two and a half months borded a plane this morning and is on her way home to her adoptive family!  Her passport was supposed to be finished in May, but there was one guy who didn't want to sign one piece of paper, so she has been waiting to rejoin her family for months!  We received news that it was done on Tuesday, varified that on Wednesady, and she and Nick left first thing this morning!

Nick will take her all the way to Florida to met up with her Dad.  He will then rent a car and drive to the other side of Florida where he will be talking with a group of Engieneers who are coming down in March to help us install our solar panels that we have been fundraising for!!  Nick has been emailing them for a while, but will be able to get way more hashed out during his time there than he ever could have over the internet!  He will be back either Sunday or Tuesday, depending on when he gets to met with the engeniers!!

Eventz and I will just be waiting here for him to return!  Eventz is batteling an ear infection, cold, and two new teeth all at the same time, so he has been kind of fussy the past few days.  He has been having high fevers for about 5 days, so I'm hoping that they go away soon.  What a great time for Nick to be gone huh!!

This will be the first time that Nick and I have ever just had Eventz, and it kind of makes it feel a liitle more real!  With having so many other kids staying with us, it often feels that we are constant "temporary parents."  However now that it's just Eventz, it makes me realize that he isn't going anywhere and that he is in fact mine!!  I'm excited to spend some time with just the three of us!!  That is until all the short term volunteers leave and we get a few sick babies upstairs with us agian, but hey, we will enjoy the time we have!!

Thanks everyone who has been praying for Mika to get her passport, and for everyone who helped us get our solar panels!!  Please pray that Nick doesn't have any trouble getting her through immigration today, on either the Haitian or US side!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

1 year ago

Thursday was the one year anniversary of the 7.0 earthquake in Port Au Prince.  I have waited to post about it because I don't know what to say.  I wasn't there, I don't know what everyone went through.  I didn't see the victims, or the destroyed city.  I didn't loose a loved one.  I didn't have a limb amputated.  I don't sit everyday and wonder if my child, husband, mother, or father was killed, or if they are out there somewhere thinking that I too was killed.

But I have seen some of the effects.

When flying in and out of Port Au Prince, I saw all the tent cities, that are still housing people today, one year later.  I have held and loved on some of our babies who lost parents or loved ones in the earth quake.  My life was not changed, but theirs was.  Millions of lives were changed during that 50 seconds last year.

One year later, and what has changed?  I wish I could say that a lot has changed, but it hasn't really.  There have of course been some changes, but a million people are still living in tents, in horrible conditions.  Nick and I often say that we wish there were places in Haiti to go camping, but we would feel horrible sleeping in a tent for recreation when that is a million peoples home.  What we consider fun, is their worst night mare.  One of the things we miss the most from home, is killing thousands here.

I heard recently that after the tsunami in Indonesia it took 2.5 years to clean up all the rubble and there is 13 times the amount of rubble here in Haiti after the earth quake.  Wow.

After the earth quake things were really hectic here at COTP since they were in the process of evacuating 36 children who were already in the process of adoption.  We were asked to come down and help out here since they had no one else who could.  Our decision to come down for those two weeks really shocked a lot of people and is something that several people still hold against us.

When we came down we missed Nicks Grandpas funeral.  I left the decision completely up to Nick, and all though it was hard on him, Nick knew that the right thing to do was come here.

Matthew 8: 21-22 Another disciple said to him "Lord first let me go and bury my father."  But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead."

We may not have been there for Gramp's funeral, but we know right where he is.  We can go visit whenever we want.  We are spoiled compared to the millions of people in Haiti who will never get to properly bury their family members.  Who will never know where their bodies are.  We said goodbye and were there by his side the night he passed.  Haitians didn't know that the earth quake was coming and didn't get to say good bye.

Thank you Lord that we are not only blessed in life, but in death!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rat #3

I was up tonight feeding one of the twins, when I heard a sound over by our desk.  My first thought is Rat, but then I assure myself that it's probably just the giant black moth (or witch doctor as some believe) that I saw in here last night before bed.  However if it had only been a moth I wouldn't be writing this post at 5am now would I?

Well I continued staring over there hoping to the moth just to be sure.  I saw something move, but still continued thinking it was the moth trying to get out.  Then I saw it move again, definitely not a moth.  There was a rat running back and forth on our window seal trying to get out.

I very calmly started walking to our bedroom to wake up Nick, but as I did so, it jumped off the window seal and I jumped on the couch.  I was afraid that if I moved anymore it would run away and we wouldn't find it.  I refused to take my eyes off of where I had last saw it.  Instead, I stood on the couch, tiny baby in hand, and yelled Nicks name, and pounded on the wall repetitively until Nick came out.

Nick stood there trying to devise a plan on how to kill it, when all of the sudden it made it's move.  It ran from under the desk to our door, back under the desk, back to the door, back under the desk, and then towards Mika and Eventz room where I lost sight of it.  At the exact second I lost sight of it, something touched my foot and I freaked out.  Turns out it was just one of the plastic dinosaurs my Mom sent down for Eventz a few days ago.

Nick threw our rat trap into their room hoping to catch it quickly, but once he saw it jump on Mika's bed, climb up the curtain, and hang out on the curtain rod, he knew this was not going to happen.  Eventz was already in our bed because he has been having trouble sleeping in his new room, so we woke Mika up and carried her into our bed and then called in some reinforcements, Toby, our dog!

Nick took all the dinosaurs my Mom sent down, and chucked them at the rat forcing it to come down! (Thanks Mom for the great toy, they came in handy).  Toby then chased it around the room for a while but wasn't getting anywhere, even with Nick poking under the bed with a broom stick.  I was on baby duty, since we now has 4 awake children at 4:30 am, and Nick was on door duty.  See their door doesn't have a handle (I assume for safety reasons, it was like that when we moved in) and so Nick had to stand there and hold it closed the whole time.  Since there was no handle though, he could peek through the hole and see exactly what was going on at all times!

After a few minutes of getting no where with Toby, I asked if we should pull out the big guns and bring in Roxy, our ferocious guard dog who cuddles up in a ball on top of our lawn furniture to sleep each night.  She might not protect us well at night, but at least she is good at killing rats.  We debated for a while because we were afraid that if we did she would either

A: get blood all over the place
B: destroy the room or
C: All the above.

However we had no other choice, so I called her in.  At the meer sound of me saying "Rat" she became very excited.  The rat was once again up on the curtain rod, so Nick chucked another dinosaur at it and quickly closed the door, but not quickly enough cause it had a chance to run across his foot first.  Luckily it stayed in the room though!  At this point I had moved from standing on the couch to standing on the kitchen chair so I was able to see this part of it.  I saw Nick hit the thing with the dinosaur and it fly/fall through the air.  Nick started laughing and said we should video tape this, so I grabbed the camera but before I did Nick opened the door.

Roxy killed the rat, didn't get blood anywhere, and everything in their room is still standing!

This rat wasn't missing giant patches of hair, so whatever rat we half way cooked yesterday is still running around somewhere.

Well obviously the rats aren't getting in through our gas line, so now we think that they are coming in through our windows.  See none of the windows here have glass, there are all just holes with two types of screens on them, one to keep bugs out and one to keep rats out.  For some reason a lot of the ones in our apartment only have the bug screens, and although there aren't any holes in them, they aren't stapled that well, so theres a chance that they are pushing them out and getting in that way.

In other words, Sampson and Rikerns will be coming to work in an hour and guess what their first project will be??  Taking down all of my screens, painting the bars (which is actually on their to do list as it is), and replacing it with both rat and bug screens, using a TON of staples to ensure that there is no possible way rats can get in there!!

For those of you into statistics:
Nick has killed 5 rats in our apartment
3 in the past week and a half and
2 while the last person lived here.

I realized after writing the last post that I may not have been clear on something.  I said that Nick killed 36 (37 now, he says he helped so he gets to share the glory with Roxy) rats.  I just want to emphasize that these are all RATS, not mice, but big long tail rats!!!

So, after these last few posts.....

Who wants to come visit us???

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It smells like burnt rodent!

I've never really been a huge fan of creepy crawly things.  I remember in middle school there was a little mouse in my closet and I refused to sleep in my room for a week AFTER it was killed.  If I remember right, the only reason I ended up going back there is because my Mom kicked me out of her bed and cleaned my room to prove it wasn't there anymore.  I wouldn't completely freak out when I saw bugs (I'm thinking about 2 of our foster girls when I say this, Mom you know who I am talking about), but I preferred not to have them around and would kill them when I saw them.  If I ever saw a bug in my glass I would refuse to drink out of it until it was cleaned.  Now it's not uncommon for me to see bugs crawling in the silverware drawer.  What is my reaction, I either pretend I didn't see it and eat off it anyway, or grab the one below it hoping that it is cleaner!!

Oh how my life has changed!

Having encounters with rats, mice, giant spiders, and cockroaches are every day occurrences.  When we first moved down here I tried to avoid places where I knew there would be rats, now I walk in there and don't even think about it.  There have been several times over the past 7 months that I have had great insect/rodent stories that I have wanted to blog about, but haven't had the time.  Well here are a few recent ones that I decided I would share.

I went to put Eventz back in his bed one night and I saw some giant black thing move in his crib.  It was a large cockroach.  Since my hands were full, I called in Nick who was up feeding one of the twins and had him kill the bug so that I could put Eventz in bed.

Several months ago I was up feeding a baby and had a large cockroach run across my foot.  I killed it and continued on with the feeding, not really thinking much of it.  When I was finished I was crawling back in bed and saw another giant cockroach just hanging out on our mosquito net.  When I say giant, I mean at least an inch long, so quite large.  A volunteer woke up once and had one on her face.  Hopefully I will never have that experience.

Then on New Years Eve I was quite tired and getting ready for bed.  I opened up my retainer case and guess what was inside?  A cockroach.  I'm ok with a lot of things, but I am not ok with cockroaches sleeping in my retainer case.

Large wall spiders are common here.  They aren't dangerous and instead help eat the mosquitos and other bugs.  Most of the time when I see them I let them be, but there are times when I just can't handle them.  When deciding whether to kill a wall spider, you have to decide how dedicated you are because these buggers are FAST!

About a week ago, I went to grab a bottle out of the bin for Eventz, when all of a sudden I noticed I was about to grab a spider.  I recruited Nick to kill it, because I knew I would never be fast enough and I really didn't want it crawling around on my cupboards.

I have encountered several tarantulas while living here, fortunately all have been dead.  Nick has killed a few himself though!

We had been seeing some signs of a rodent in our house, and Nick thought that it was probably a mouse, not a rat.  Well we set a trap and guess what we caught, a rat!  A few nights went by and we assumed we had taken care of the problem, when we heard a bunch of stuff on our counter fall to the ground.  Apparently not.  I was up the next night feeding the twins when I heard a noise come from the oven area.  All the sudden I saw a rat run across my kitchen.  I sat there completely still for a few seconds, and then I saw it run back in the direction it came from.  Nick moved the trap and a few hours later, we had rat number 2!!  We thought that they were coming in through our gas line for our stove, so we filled that in.  Once again we assumed that we had solved the problem, and we had, for a few nights at least.

Today we were making lunch and there was a small noise coming from the oven.  We joked around that it was probably a mouse who was trying to get away from the heat.  A few minutes later we heard a LOT of noise coming from the oven and were convinced that it was in fact some sort of rodent that was being forced to move because of the heat inside.  When we were done cooking, we looked inside.  There was no rat/mouse, but there was several giant chunks of rodent hair in there. I kept telling Nick that it smelled like burnt rodent but he said I was being dramatic. Guess that means we are once again setting a trap in our house and hopefully getting rat number 3!!  We don't know where they are getting in at, but will hopefully find out soon!

Nick has killed 36 rats since we have been here.  Most of those were in the first month when he set traps every night.  He hasn't done this for a long time and until just a few days ago, he hardly ever set any traps, but is starting to get back into it.  No matter how many we kill, there just always seems to be more.

The rodents here aren't like you would expect them to be.  They don't run away when you walk into a room or make a noise.  Instead, they stare at you and have this look that says "are you really going to make me move, or are you going to leave the room?'

No worries though, it's

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Long Week

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, it's not because I haven't had anything to say, in fact I have about 5 posts I would like to say, it's just that I haven't had time and I'm overwhelmed with things to write about.  This week has been full of emotions.  We have had amazing moments and difficult moments.  There have been tears and laughter.  We have been all over the place!  I don't have much time now to write about it all, so I'll just list some of the stuff that happened this week and hopefully later I can expand upon it more....

-We found out on Monday that Nick has Malaria and that is why he has been sick for a little while.  He is on meds and doing much better now but still really tired!

- One of our much needed babies went home this week to a very loving Mother.  She was all smiles as she waited for us to finish everything to send him home.  This baby lived in the volunteer house for several months, and stayed in Nick and I's room for 5 weeks, so this was a very happy sad day for us!!  He is in the formula program so I will get to see him every two weeks!!

-Several of our children have been reunited this week with their families which is amazing!

- This same day we had two babies pass away, one of which stayed with me for about a week while she was sick.  Her death was very sudden and unexpected.  It's always difficult to bury your babies and even harder to watch parents say goodbye to their little ones that they love so deeply.  Please pray for their families who are greiving.  One of these babies has a twin sister, please pray for her as well.  It's difficult to go into the baby house and see her twin cause it's a constant reminder that she is no longer with us.

-This was the first time I had been back to the cemetery since baby O. (another one of my babies) was buried.  It was very difficult to see that where he was buried was overgrown in weeds, and that their was a trail on top of it from where people have been walking.

-I went back to the peds ward of the hospital twice this week to admit two of our sick babies.  This was the first time I have been back since visiting Eventz there and it was really difficult being there and thinking about how sick he was only a few months ago.  It makes me wonder why he survived when he was so much worse than some of our babies were who have passed.  Eventz being alive is a miracle!

-Several of our kids who have gone home recently returned this past week for the formula program and I was able to see them all again!  It's amazing to see that they are all doing well, gaining weight, and bonding with their parents!

-Eventz started sleeping through the night and now sleeps in his own room rather than in our room!  He is army crawling all over the place and getting into everything!  He is only a few days away from crawling like a big boy!  He now weighs over 16 lbs and talks more than ever!

-The new born twins that have been living with us since Christmas Eve are drinking well and have gained nearly 1.5 lbs each!  They will be moving out to the baby house soon and Nick and I are very excited to get a full nights sleep for the first time in a few months (unless we get a new baby that is)!

-There is a really good chance that the little girl who has been living with Nick and I for the past two months will get her passport really soon and will be able to go home to her family who have been waiting for her!  Please pray that her appointment goes well on Monday and that the one guy who has been holding up this process for months will sign the one piece of paper which will allow her to go home!!

-One of our children had a seizure this morning.

-Nick has killed 2 rats in our kitchen this week!  We think we know where they were coming in at and have since blocked the hole.  I have not seen or heard any in here for a few nights, so hopefully they are all gone (for the time being at least)!

-Amy has been gone for a few weeks and is coming in today!  We are very excited to have her back for many reasons, but especially so that I don't have to be the nurse any more cause I am not qualified for that job!!