Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A good day!

Yesterday was a good day.  A busy day.  Yesterday Nick and I started something new.  We are going to have one of our favorite nannies, Milouse, start watching Eventz every Tuesday for us.  Yesterday was the first time she did this.  What I have been doing for the past few months is just working as much as I possibly could during Eventz nap times (he sleeps a lot, although recently has decided he's much to big for that babyish stuff anymore) and then spending time with him when he's awake.  This as gone pretty well for a while, but I always had issues every other Tuesday when families came for the formula program.  When we first brought Eventz into our home, I changed the time of F.P. so that it would be during his nap, however, his nap time has changed and it's smack dap right in the middle of the time between his two naps, which means for about 2-3 months, I have been carting him along with me during these times.  It's not a big deal and the families don't care, but it makes things a lot more difficult for me.  Can you imagine taking your one year old to work with you?

Anyways Milouse was upstairs with Eventz yesterday and I was able to get a TON done.  Eventz was not very happy that I left him at first, but by the end of the day the two of them had made peace and were somewhat enjoying each other.  Or at least Eventz wasn't screaming like he was in the morning.  Each time he would see me, he would get a giant smile on his face, crawl over to me, curl up into my chest, and give me the biggest hug ever.  It kind of broke my heart, but it's good for him to spend time with someone rather than me.  The whole rest of the night he was over cuddly and constantly giving me hugs, which is my favorite thing ever!

So, back to why it was a good day.  No, it wasn't a good day because I had left my son, that part kind of sucked.  I finished a lot of office work in the morning and was able to have preschool as well.  The kids had no interest in participating in any of circle time, however, when I pulled out the giant Lego's, they blew me away with how well they did with it.  We have played with blocks at school before, but Lego's are new.  Almost all of them were building towers and fully understanding how to put two pieces together.  It was great to see and makes me want to keep working on these things with them.  And then preschool ended early when someone had an accident that dripped all down their leg and all over the floor.  This is also not what made yesterday great.  That part was kind of a bummer as well.

After preschool was formula program.  All of the babies this week gained weight!  All of them.  Our smallest baby even gained 2 pounds which is amazing because she is very very tiny.  I enjoy formula program because I am able to see several of the kids who have left COTP regularly and ensure that they are still gaining weight and doing good at home.  One of the babies that is coming right now is the 1 lb 13 oz baby that was at COTP when Nick and I moved here.  She weighs 12#, is sitting up, and doing great.  Her Mom is taking great care of her.  We also had a child graduate F.P. today, which is always exciting to see that they are healthy enough to not need our help.  Then we admitted a new baby to the program that I am already in love with.  He is 3 months old and weighs six pounds.  I'm sure most of that weight is all in his hair too because he has a giant fro.  Just kidding, but he is seriously adorable and tiny.  I can't wait to fatten this kid up!  He's got a great Mother who is trying her best to take care of him, but is unable to breast feed, causing him to be so tiny.  She is a great Mom and very aware of how to best take care of her child, and that's why she came to us to ensure that he will be healthy.  The option of breast feeding is not a choice for her, she would if she could, trust me, but she can't.  She has no choice but to give him formula.

I also like formula program because there is a family that Nick and I help who attend this program.  The Mom and the Dad are amazing and always make me smile.  Their 3 month old was smiling back at me the entire time yesterday.  The walk for hours to get here so that they can have that small can of formula to feed their youngest baby.  Their youngest of 10, two of which aren't even theirs but they took in anyways.  They have quite a story that I have been meaning to share for a while, all in time I guess.  They are always fun to see.

And yesterday we kicked off summer by having our first pool day of the season!  The kids were incredibly excited as it's been a few months since we have done this.  It's just been way too cold, I mean it's been in the low 80/70's for a few months now, so there was no way any of us were going to have a pool day!  But it's starting to get warmer now, so out came the pools, swim diapers, and bathing suits!

Yesterday's pool day reminded me of the miracle that COTP is able to fulfill every day.  As I sat in one of the pools with the kids, (I mean there has to be a life guard on duty in every pool, so I sacrificed and decided to do it!) I looked around and saw how much each of our children have changed since our last pool day.  There was Eventz, who on our last pool day did not yet know how to sit up.  He was tiny, weak and fragile, only being discharged from his 5 week stay in the hospital a few days before.  This was about two days before we left to announce we were adopting him.  And then yesterday, he was crawling all over the pool with the big kids, splashing, and laughing.  He had a great time and is in such a different place than he was then.

There is another little boy who last summer spent a lot of time with Nick and I because he was really sick.  I loved this little boy, and still do, and I always tried to force him in the water cause I thought he would like it, but he always screamed and refused to get wet.  He used to hate baths and even more hated pool days.  But yesterday, he sat right in there with a giant smile on his face and played right along with his friends.

And there was a boy who, even though he was old enough too, could not sit up very well on his own and required someone to be right next to him the entire time.  He now sits up amazing (and even crawls) and was able to enjoy pool day with the same amount of supervision as the rest of the kids.  All the kids who were in the two baby rooms last year who were too young for pool day, were able to enjoy their first time in the water.  We have several new admits who enjoyed their first pool day as well.  There was one boy, who is about 2.5 who kept trying to drink the water the entire time.  He has never been in a pool, but was completely comfortable, rolling around, splashing, and drinking the water.  He loved it.

They all loved it.
I loved it.

Watching those kids yesterday reminded me of why we are here.  To ensure that they are healthy enough to enjoy pool day.  To ensure that they can sit up on their own, to help them reach their developmental goals, and to enjoy themselves.  To help them have fun, and just be kids.  To help them stop having to fight for their lives and to enjoy it.  Our kids are awesome, and I love all of them so much.  Being here with them everyday you forget about how much they are changing and growing, but they are doing it everyday.

Every now and then I have to stop and think about what these kids were like when first admitted to COTP and thank God for how far they have come.  Eventz went from almost dying to enjoying pool day.  The second boy I talked about was really sick as well but now is doing great.  The third boy has always been way behind developmentally, but slowly, in his own time, amazes us at the skills he is learning.  He's slowly catching up and doing great.  The fourth boy used to be so unhappy here.  He used to throw the biggest fits and was always yelling in Creole.  Now, he is well adjusted, smiles all the time, enjoys life, and rarely throws himself on the ground.

Their improving.  Their doing great.  They are living when we once wondered if they would make it.  All of these boys have had scary times, but they are here, splashing in the pool, loving life and stealing hearts.

And I get to be apart of it every day.  I get to be a part of their lives, their stories.  Yes they are getting a lot from being at COTP, but so am I!

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Lot of Firsts

Sorry this is so late, but better late than never I guess.  Our trip to Port to work on our Permis de Sejour was really good.  We still had to send in one more paper, so we weren't able to finish it, but are at least closer.  We do not have to go back to Port which is good.  Hopefully it will all be finished soon.

We spent a few days with some of our friends there who run HIV testing clinics all over the country.  It was fun hanging out with them and having a few days off.  We watched a lot of tv and just relaxed.  Port is way different than Cap.  We drove by President Aristides house which was kind of interesting.  While on this trip Eventz had a lot of firsts.

  • He went on an airplane for the first time
  • He rode an elevator for the first time
  • He took a bath in a real bath tub rather than a bucket like we use here
  • He buckled up in the car for the first time (we don't use carseats here and most of the seatbelts in our truck are broke)
  • He went into a REAL store with aisles and aisles of food, multiple checkout stands, etc.
  • He saw light fixtures for the first time rather than just light bulbs.  These amazed him!
  • It was his first time in Port
  • He had ice cream for the first time, and even he couldn't decide whether or not he liked it.  He would make the weirdest face each time he ate it, but he always acted like he wanted more!
  • And the one that got me the most is that he rode in a shopping cart for the first and probably last time ever.
I'm sure there are more firsts that I can't think of, but man, the shopping cart one just really got me for some reason.  I mean when we decided to raise our kids here we knew there would be lots of things they were going to miss out on.  But for some reason I never thought of them missing out on shopping carts.  It's something so simple that seems so natural, but my kids aren't going to get that.  By time Eventz adoption is complete and we are able to take him to the States to visit family, he will likely be much to old to sit in a shopping cart.  The only way he will have this experience again is if we take him back to Port.

I don't know why but it made me really sad to watch him sitting there, kicking his feet, completely over stimulated by everything going on, as Nick pushed him up and down every aisle, knowing that we would likely never have this experience again.  I wish we had our camera with us, but unfortunately did not.

However we did take a lot of pictures on our last trip to the beach.  A couple that stayed with us for three weeks and our new nurse Tori wanted to hike to the beach, so Nick, Eventz and I decided to take them.  The only thing between us and the beach is a pretty big Mountain.  Rikerns took us to the base of it and we hiked over, he definitely thought we were a little crazy when we told him what we were doing.  People along the way kept telling us we couldn't make it, but we did.  Well, kind of.  We actually ended up several miles from where we wanted too, but at least it was on the road to where we wanted to go, so we hoped on a tap tap (local public transportation) and it took us the rest of the way.  The hike was gorgeous and surprisingly not too hard, followed by an amazing day at an amazing beach!  We had beautiful views over looking all of Cap Haitien, saw some cool mountain villages, hiked through a lot of banana trees, and even did a little bit of bouldering.

Eventz and Nick taking a break on the hike

This pictures shows how unafraid of the water he is.  He crawls all the way in and doesn't care when it gets to his face. He's like a submarine.  Don't worry we picked him up right after this, we didn't let him drown!

Nap time is an essential part of beach day.

Eventz Crawling path!

Come on Mom, lets go back in the water!

Look at that smile, he just loves the beach!

Eventz ate cheerios while we played football!

We feel very blessed to be able to take these days off, recuperate, and spend time as a family!  Last week I spent more time away from COTP than I did here.  This is really rare for me; it isn't uncommon for several weeks or even a month to go by without me leaving the compound.  Last week however I spent 2.5 days in Port to work on our Permis de Sejour, 1 day hiking and at the beach, and then the following day I went back to Port with one of our children for an appointment.

It was fun while it lasted, but this week it's back to work.  I have to finish my last few photo shoots with the kids for their photo updates, organize those into their files, and upload them.  I will be putting a few of them on our picture blog because they turned out really good this month.  I'll let you know when they are up.  I also have a few things in the preschool that needs to be cleaned, as well as have preschool.  Formula program is this week, as is Nicks birthday!  It's definitely going to be a busy week, but thats what we are here for!

Ok, off to wake up Eventz.  He's getting two new teeth in so I hope he's not to fussy today.  Poor guy has been sick as well and has been miserable for the last few days.


Friday, March 18, 2011

He's Back!!

Well, it's official, Aristide has officially returned to Haiti after 7 years of exile in South Africa.  No body is certain of what this means for Sundays elections, but we are all hopefully that they will continue without any issues.  Many people including President Obama has Aristide to wait until after the election to come back, but he did not listen.

There are many rumors as too why he choose to come back now, one of which is that he is afraid that the new president will revoke his passport which allows him to return to Haiti.  From what we have heard there was a big party at the airport this morning as all of his supporters gathered to see him.  We are staying on the outskirts of Port and so we don't really know whats going on downtown.  We don't see any black smoke, so it appears that no tires are burning!  That is always a plus!!

As I know more I will post about it!!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Permis de Sejour- Phase 2

Back in December I wrote a really long post about us trying to complete our Permis De Sejour (Permanent Residency Card), and made the comment that this was something that could take any where from a few days to a few years to complete.  When I wrote that blog, we were told that we would be leaving the end of that week to go to Port and sign for it.  Well, it is now the middle of March and we are finally going this morning to HOPEFULLY finish it all up.  Again, TIH, so who has any idea if it will actually happen.

I know, your all dying to know what held it up for these past few months.  Theres got to be some interesting story there since it’s Haiti right?  Right!!
So when you fly into Haiti, as I’m sure most countries, you get this little green card and you are required to give it back when you go through customs as you are leaving the country.  When I came into the country last time, I for whatever reason was not given a green card.  I WAS NOT GIVEN A GREEN CARD.  I did not loose it.  I actually was not given a green card.  I don’t know how many times they have asked me to check for it, but I honestly don’t have one!
Part of the Permis de Sejour is giving them your Green card to ensure that you came into the country legally (I’m not sure who would want to come in here illegally, but I guess you have to check).  We sent the office a copy of the stamp on my passport about a 100 times which has the date when I arrived.  Still no good.  They just wouldn’t accept that for some reason.  So our guy in Port went to the airport and checked with the company that I flew in with to get their flight records to prove that I did infact come into the country on said date.  It’s not there.  They have no record of me being on their flight.  Really?  I mean I know I slept on the flight, but I was on it.  I had to get here somehow.  Technically, I think that this all means that I am here illegally right now, but thats all good!  Actually, I really am here illegally right now because we are supposed to leave every three months and it’s been closer to five.  Whoops!!
Over the past couple months we have been told about 6 times that “every things almost finished and you need to make reservations to come down this week. I’ll call you and let you know for sure,” only to have a few weeks go by without any communication from our guy in Port!  Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy, this is just how Haiti is!
Well we were told this week that all is done except for us to go down and sign for it.  This weekend is the ONLY weekend we have available for several months so we decided to go, even though we have people here visiting us and have to miss their last day in Haiti.  We also decided to take Eventz and make a small trip out of it.  We will be staying with some of our friends for a few days before coming back to COTP.
Of course this being Haiti, nothing is for sure.  We wanted to go on Friday, but were told to go Thursday so that we have two days in case we need to sit at the office the entire time.  I mean it’s very possible that it might take two days to sign a piece of paper.
When discussing this trip, we originally wanted to come back Sunday, but Sunday is elections which means the possibility of riots for several days.  We booked our tickets for Saturday in case the airports shut down or there is any issues.
But, this morning I got online and read that there are RUMORS of Aristide, the exiled president, coming back TODAY!!  Yay, of all days he could return, supposedly he is going to return today.  No one knows what this means, but again their are rumors of riots.
And then of course theres always the issue of us taking Eventz, which to us is the biggest concern.  You never know when you will come across someone who isn’t pro international adoptions.  Whenever we go anywhere with him, we have to be careful since he is not yet legally ours.
Hoping that things go smoothly today and that we are able to get it all completed in a timely manner!!
Things went really well today for us.  We didn’t have any issues having Eventz with us at all.  He slept through his first airplane ride and was very well behaved during it all.  Our guy was waiting for us when we arrived at the airport and took us to the immigration office.  We were only there for an hour and most of this time was waiting for our second guy to show up.  This is phenomenal because I was expecting to sit there for hours before even getting seen.  We filled out the application, which was all in French, had our finger prints taken and were on our way!  We still are not yet finished with the process.  We have one more piece of paper we still have to give them, but are hoping that we will be done within a month.  Who knows though!  

While we were there, they again had a small issue with my arrival date, but some how it all worked out!  We are now at our friends house and relaxing!  Port au Prince is SO much different than CAP!  We are enjoying our time here and are excited to spend a few days together!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

No explanation necessary

All we wanted was to go for a nice relaxing Sunday afternoon ride.  What Renae and Connor didn't know when they offered to watch Eventz is that our rides always take a long time and involve us calling for help!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mardi Gra

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday people all over Haiti celebrated Mardi Gra, or Carnival as they call it here.  However, just because the official celebration was this weekend, it doesn't mean that people didn't celebrate it early.  The entire month leading up to it in fact.  Heres the story of our first encounter with Carnival.  (Mom, do yourself a favor and quite reading now!!)

We had spent about an hour fighting with Eventz to get him to take his second nap.  He finally went down and Nick and I were anxious to hop on the bike and take a quick ride before he woke up (Don't worry there are others around to hear him if he were to wake up, we aren't that bad of parents!!)  So Nick and I leave, but before we do, we talk to both Papito and Rikerns, two of our male employees.  They both know we are going for a moto ride, but neither says anything to us.

We get about 5 minutes away and see two boys wearing these costumes made of sugar cane leaves that go all the way from their necks down to the ground.  Each of the boys were holding masks.  We thought this was kind of weird but kept going.  Then we saw another, and then two more, and then three, then another, then two more... you get the point.  We saw a lot of people all walking in the same direction all wearing these sugar cane costumes and mardi gra masks.  Most were carrying whips, but they were folded up in their hands and weren't doing anything with them.  I thought that maybe there was some skit or play going on at the local church or school.

As we continued our ride, we could see in the distance another person dressed up in their gowns with someone who was not dressed up in front of them.  The undressed guy was holding a giant red ball above his head and they were both side stepping back and forth across the road trying to prevent us from going by.  This is when we started getting a little more nervous, but we just said Bonswa, and keep going right by them.  We passed a few more people decked out in their gear, and then came to a large group of about 20 people watching 6 people who had on costumes, masks, and whips.

As we drove closer to this group, one of the men came towards us and cracked his 20 foot whip on the road, making an obnoxiously loud crack.  We didn't really think they would do anything, but didn't want to take a chance since it was such a large group.  Nick flipped the bike around faster than I have ever seen and we were back on our way to COTP.  When this happened we were only about 200 ft away from one of our employees homes, so she wouldn't have let anything happen to us, but it was still a little weird.

So we flew home, at a pretty fast speed, past the 15 or so people we had already passed in costumes.  Just outside the gate when we got back were Papito and Rikerns talking.  We asked them what was going on and at first neither of them had any idea what we were talking about.  We explained the situation and they both laughed.

Apparently every weekend, especially on Sunday, for a month leading up to Mardi Gra, people will stand in the middle of the road with whips, machetes (carrying a machete here is like carrying a cell phone in the States), or batons, and stop people and ask for money.  Apparently these guys didn't feel the need to warn us what was happening.  It is so "natural" to them that they didn't even think anything about it, even though Papito had been stopped earlier that day.  We talked to several of our employees about it as well as other long term staff that has been here for it, and they all ensured us that it was all fun and games and not a big deal at all.

At first we agreed that we would just stay here on Sundays during February and early March, but that didn't last long.

Two weeks later Nick took a group to the Citadel, and on the way back encountered a group of about 8 guys doing the same thing.  However, this time was a little more scary.  All the men were wearing all black clothes, even scarier masks, their bodies were covered in a black substance that Nick thought at the time was oil, and carrying batons.  The group was so weaved across the road, and there were a few people holding a large rope, so Nick couldn't easily pass.  He handed them a few bucks and the group was on their way.

The following week, my Dad, his friend, and I encountered the same group.  Other long term staff has come across several groups of people doing these things as well on their Sunday outings.  We have since learned that they were not covered in oil, but in sugar cane oil and charcoal, which is what made their bodies look so dark and scary.  We have also learned that these groups are trying to symbolize their ancestors who were all slaves.

We all avoided town as much as possible this past weekend as to not get caught in any of the "real" mardi gra celebrations.

Now we know for next year that if we are taking a moto ride on a weekend in February, we either need to take a few extra bucks with us, or be prepared to negotiate with people all dressed up!

There have also been a lot of Rara bands around here lately.  A Rara band is a group of people that walk down the street playing music.  They are normally accompanied by one or two of the people wearing sugar cane costumes and cracking their whips as they go.  For some reason they always find it neccessary to crack it on our gate which makes an obnoxious sound!  There are normally about 20 people in these groups!  The music they make is pretty cool.  I have gone up on our roof and watched them pass several times as I can see over the wall from there!

Oh Haiti, I'm constantly experiencing new things I never thought I would!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sewing Project

Hey all,

We have a sewing project that we would love to have a group volunteer to do for us.  Our numbers have been rising for a while, so this week we had to open our lion room to house our older children.  There are three windows in this room that all need curtains.  Currently the nannies have make shift currents made which are random blankets they have hung up to give them privacy.  We would also like to have curtains made for our Bumble Bee and Butterfly (special needs) Rooms.  For all three rooms there are a total of 11 windows

We asked a local man who has done sewing projects for us in the past to come and give us a quote for these three rooms, and it was several hundred dollars.  I originally said that it was to much assuming that I could get these way cheaper by buying curtains online.  The problem is that every window and door in Haiti are all custom made.  Seriously, each door in our apartment is a completely different size.  Anyways, the windows are way different sizes than anything I could find online and it would have still been extremely expensive.

Here are some pictures of our lion and bumble bee rooms.  We are hoping that the group that decides to take on this challenge will be able to find materials that either match the theme or are a similar color to the paint in the rooms.  I did not take any pictures of the Butterfly Room yet as there is no mural painted on it so there is no theme to match. (If anyone is looking for a different project, that room could always use a make over as well as murals/painting else where.  Just a thought!!)

Lion Room

Bumble Bee Room

If you or your sewing group would be interested in one or all three of these rooms, please contact us at and I can give you the exact measurements for each window.  As I said, each one is different!  TIH!!

Thanks in advance, we appreciate all the help!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Intern Wanted

Have you ever wanted to spend some time volunteering abroad?

COTP is looking to find an intern to come down to Haiti for 2-3 months and teach Renel, one of our employees, how to use a computer.  Renel is fluent in English, so there will not be a language barrier.  Renel is extremely hard working and loves to learn.  He has expressed a desire to learn how to use a computer for several months now.  Renel is in charge of our prenatal and school sponsorship programs.  He also teaches Creole classes to new long term staff that moves down.

Teaching Renel to use a computer will not only empower him, but hopefully his two children as he is very involved in their education and will likely pass on this skill.  If Renel can use a computer, it would also prevent long term staff at COTP from being the middle man between Renel and our staff stateside.  Using a computer will help Renel keep better filing and improve both of the programs that he works with.  For instance, he could track the growth of the women in our prenatal program better and be able to give them more individualized advice to ensure that they have a healthy pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby!

The person for this position would need to teach Renel how to type, use word/excel, and possibly the basics of the internet.  In addition they would help Renel set up data bases which will help improve both the school sponsorship and prenatal programs.  Renel is a smart guy and catches on quick.

We are very open and flexible for this position; the start and end dates can be set by the person filling the position.  We would expect the person to work several hours each week with Renel to help improve his skills.  The person can be involved in other programs here as well, but this will be their main priority.

If you would like more information on what we are looking for or the requirements for volunteering at COTP, please feel free to email our volunteer coordinator at

Feel free to pass this on to anyone who you feel would be interested in filling this position!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bon Fet Eventz Part 2

Eventz waiting patiently as I open his quad.

Eventz lost patience and began chewing on his toy as I opened it!

Thanks Grandpa for the sweet quad!!

Wow look at this book from Uncle Chris and Uncle Jason!

And one from Grandma too!

A whole box full of toys!!

Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles!!

And Even more Bubbles!!

Not the biggest fan of the hat Grandpa gave him!

No way, a Thomas the Train

Cool Blocks, Thanks Aunt Allison!!

Daddy and Eventz being Silly!

Bon Fet Eventz!!

Ready to start the celebrations!

Eventz Bday cake that I made!!

The Family "Before!!"

 Yum Frosting!

A hard days work for that rig!

I love the face he's making!!

Frosting anyone?

The Family "After!!"