Friday, January 29, 2010

What I've been up to:

This is my first real stab at fondant! Some of you remember last August I got 2 cupcake books for my birthday and declared this "The Year of The Cupcake." Well, I got off to a good start, but then during the holidays I kinda backed off. Partly because of my little secret: I don't really like cupcakes.
I'll usually eat them because I eat just about anything with that much sugar, but I'd take an iced sugar cookie over a cupcake any day of the week. BUT, a friend of mine stumbled on some old blog posts about cupcakes (that I'm too lazy to find and link you to), and offered to pay me to make some cupcakes for her daughter's birthday party. My first paying gig! This deserved a new challenge, so, befitting her Build-a-Bear party, I found my goal and went for it.
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Unfortunately, no one in town had regular old bricks of fondant, so I had to make my own. Time consuming and SO MESSY, but it's made from marshmallows, so it tastes better than bakery fondant. Then I bought some special coloring and kneaded it into the fondant to make the colors I needed. I didn't think to take pictures of any of that. Sorry.
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THEN:
I rolled out the fondant like play-doh. Fun! This is the dark brown, base circles for Ted.
Then I added light brown for ears and muzzle.
Then black for nose, eyes, and mouth was done with toothpick dipped in coloring.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I baked red velvet cupcakes, specially requested.
Yada, yada, yada....finished product! There's always room for improvement, but I'm not embarassed by them. I'll definitely do fondant again. It really wasn't that bad. Not sure I'm ready for a full cake, though. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Greatist Hits, vol 3

This is a reminder to myself: the days pass slowly (sometimes SO slowly), but the years pass quickly.

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Sydney at 2 months

video

Carson at 18 months.

video

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti

I've been wanting to blog about my time in Haiti 15 years ago, because the memories have been pouring. And, you know, this is my space to text-vomit my thoughts and feelings and you all have the option of reading or skipping! First, I need to give a shout-out to Mr. Lefebvre, who is sporting some SaWEET shorts in the picture below. He helped lead my trip to Haiti and his wife Jan was on the trip last week. They are dear family friends and readers of this blog. Still haven't seen Jan in person to give her a hug, but I can't wait to soon!

During my senior year of high school, I decided one night that I needed to be a part of the church trip going to Haiti. As far as I know, not many (if any?) teenagers at that point had been a part of these frequent teams. My friend Stephanie decided together that we needed to do it. Geez, look at these pictures! I was just a baby! (17) It seems interesting to me, looking back, that I didn't wear make-up or do my hair the entire 2 weeks. Could I be that unself-conscious now?
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Most of the time, we did what I call male/female split: Men did physical labor, and the women taught women's classes, vacation Bible school and worked many days in the medical clinic. Working in the medical clinic was amazing. Way too many great stories to share on one blog post. We had a couple MD's, some nurses and the Army sent over some dentists.
But we each had one day of household duty, and this was a cake I made the night I was on KP duty:
The trip was a significant and defining spiritual experience for me. I would even use the word pivotal. I had seen poverty in Mexico, but what I saw in Haiti absolutely BLEW MY MIND. Plus, the spiritual warfare was palpable. We would sit on the roof of our dorm at night and hear people in the village singing their voodoo chants, and participate in the local Christian church service the next day. I saw what I believe was a true-life miracle in a TEENY infant who was literally starving of malnutrition. Even as a clueless teenage, the sight of her frail body frightened me. Her mom said she wouldn't nurse--hadn't for many days. I was holding her as she was inconsolable and NONE of the docs or nurses could get an IV line into her 1-inch arm. I could see the stress on my friend Dr. Edmund's face, and I was fighting back tears of fear and wondering why I was the one still holding her. We all stopped what we were doing and gathered around her and her mother and prayed. The child immediately (I mean, upon AMEN) calmed, and one of the nurses was able to get the IV in, giving her lifesaving fluids and nutrients. The baby then promptly pooped on me. Can't make this stuff up, people! She came back for several days while we were there for more fluids and giving the mother some food helped her milk supply as well.
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In the picture below, see this wall behind me? This is part of the inner wall that surrounds the Lifeline dorm. The walled dorm is part of a much larger compound, which also has a cement brick wall. The compound is many acres and has a school, medical clinic, church, shop, and a very large field. The day of the earthquake, the 58 ladies from the US were handing out hundreds of gifts to the Haitian children who are sponsored by US citizens. They brought them into the courtyard of the dorm, lined them up on benches along this wall. Over 400 gifts were given out. Kids lining up, waiting, getting their gifts, leaving. Less than an hour later, this very wall collapsed, CRUSHING the benches where dozens of children had been sitting. Sorry if I'm adding some drama with my CAPS but that is significant to me.

This pic (below) is a shot of the outside gate and wall of the entire compound.
On the wall near the gate, there is a faucet of clean water for anyone who needs it. From what I understand, this portion of the wall that is made of stone, withstood the earthquake. However, most of the perimeter of the wall was made of cement bricks, which did not.
This is my friend Stephanie and I at the dorm. Jan was walking down this very flight of stairs when the earthquake hit.
Here's another picture of the dorms. As you can see, it is also made of a lot of stone walls, a foundation which held up last week.
This is a shot of me being silly, peeking out the gate of the dorm yard. You can see our housing behind me. Since 1995, they have added some things to this area, including a little carport in front of that gate.
This is a picture of that gate from a different angle--after the earthquake last week.
This is one of the school rooms on the Lifeline compound.This is one of the school rooms last week.
Haiti has had varying degrees of political unrest for years. When we went in 1995, they were experiencing some. The US sent troops in to help keep the peace. Here are a couple of the army guys who came to help their dentist friends in the clinic. Of course they let the two giggly little American girls hold their guns and try on their hats and packs. At the time it seemed great fun, but now I can totally imagine how Gerry and Dan Ferguson must have been eyes rolling at the sight. Ha!
This is a picture of the Lifeline church, also on the compound. From what I hear: it is still standing! We had great times of worship in 2 languages here, and Dan preached with a translator for the 3 hour Sunday morning church service. :)
As my first truly international experience, Haiti was integral in forming me as an adult. The experience created in my a desire for more travel, an awareness of a world beyond mine, and an interest in cross-cultural ministry. (I later went to work for Dan full time in the Missions department and got to travel to Asia and Africa!) I would not say that I have a huge bond with Haiti, or that I've always wanted to go back, but I would say that the country itself holds a special place in my heart. Obviously my experience there, and its significance, plays a role in my emotional investment of the current situation. Although my friends are home safely, and so is Keenan, my prayer is that I won't forget the ongoing challenges that will face this small country for a very, very long time.
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The best place I've found to get almost daily updates and hear stories of HOPE in the tragedy is http://www.livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/. You can give at http://www.haiti-relief.org/. Also, please check out http://www.lifeline.org/, where you can give financially or participate in donating disaster relief supplies.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Comic Relief

It's been an intense week, as I've obviously been pretty emotionally wrapped up in the situation in Haiti. Please continue to read Kristen Howerton's Blog to get updates on the progress being made towards humanitarian parole and any way we can all help them. The squeaky wheel is getting some grease!
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Also, I strongly recommend you continue to follow Tara and Troy Livesay's blog. She is a wonderful writer and they are the middle of the crisis doing amazing work in Christ's name. She gives horrific stories and signs of hope as well as specific ways to pray. Please read.
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But here's a few lighthearted Carson moments from around here. First, Carson got ahold of my camera the other night when I was having a conversation with my MIL on the phone. It was not really that serious of a conversation, but I needed to concentrate on calendar details and Carson was distracting me with the camera in my face:

He also took an incredibly flattering self-photo.
Here's some recent Carsonisms:
Out of the blue: Mom, they shouldn't be called "cowboys" they should be called "horseboys" because they don't ride cows.
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When she was watching the kids the other day, my mom explained to Carson what "number 1" and "number 2" are. It actually surprised me that we had missed this basic code. After he learned this new vocab, he taught her a new one:
Carson: Jojo, I know what Number 3 is.
Jojo: You do? What?
Carson: Diarrhea.
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Trent likes to sing around the house. A lot. I will not elaborate on the quality of his vocal ability, but let my son's response give you an idea. Trent was in the middle of one of his usual tunes and Carson abruptly paused what he was doing and held his hand out to Trent in the universal sign for STOP.
Carson: RED LIGHT, Dad. STOP. SINGING.
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Somewhere along the way, Carson has picked up the "trash talk" phrase of "You wanna piece of me?!" But he has always said "You wanna piece of MEAT?" Then the other day we were playing around and he jokingly said:
"You wanna piece of meat? Huh?! You want TWO PIECES OF MEAT?!"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lifeline team home!

Update: Quickly go to RORY'S BLOG and leave a comment! For every comment, she will donate $1 to Heartline Ministries!

My friends from BCC are home safely. A friend shared a video of their homecoming at PDX that--surprise!--had me in tears again. Especially sweet Freedom, who has young kids just a little older than mine, probably blissfully unaware of the immense danger their mommy was in. So, thank you again, Lord! The ministry with whom they were serving, Lifeline, is still on the ground in Haiti and has a huge presence. They have been ministering there for years and are very well established. See their website here to find out how you can help. Soon I hope to post pictures of when I was in Haiti with Lifeline 15 years ago!

Our friend Kristen Howerton, whom you all prayed for so diligently this week, has been incredibly busy since she got home! She and her husband are waging a major grassroots effort to encourage the government here in the US to step in and provide humanitarian parole for their Haitian son, Keenan, and other Haitian orphans who have not been brought to the US because of lengthy bureaucratic red tape. Haitian politics and infrastructure are close to non-existent--on a GOOD, pre-earthquake day. Now the files are at the bottom of a building that is in rubble. Kristen and Mark have been interviewed by local media and today by CNN! They are asking help from ANYONE to please contact the government personally and request the release of these Haitian orphans to the US homes that are ready and waiting for them. This will also free up space in the orphanages for more Haitian children.

If you feel like doing something to help the citizens of Haiti, this is something tangible and FREE. Please check out Kristen's blog post: Operation Get Him Home to get specifics on how to send letters to our officials. You can also help Keenan's orphanage at http://www.haiti-relief.com/.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

And even more...

Kristen is HOME! So, so thankful for that. Be looking to the links on the right, as I'm sure that once she has detoxed from this traumatic event, she'll blog about some of it.

Also, I just read on Facebook that it seems there has been some sort of tentative communication from the ground in Haiti that my friends from Beaverton Christian were put on a flight out of Haiti. It sounds like it may be similar to the one Kristen was on--possibly a cargo plane, probably couldn't take any luggage, and no one knows where they will be flying to or even if they were able to stay together. Once again, I request your prayers for them as they begin what is hopefully the last leg in this harrowing journey.

My special friends that are in that group are Jan, Vicki, Freedom, Ellen and Shari. Can't wait to hear from Jan's husband that they are safe in Oregon!

Thank you for being supportive and understanding of my constant need to write about this situation in Haiti. God is just placing all these people in my heart so constantly this week, and I feel that by getting word out to anyone reading this, I'm helping in a small way by getting more prayers on their behalf. A big thank you, especially, to all who commented your prayers and support to Kristen's blog. I'm sure it was encouraging to her and I know it was to me!

Friday, January 15, 2010

More..

More bursting into tears: woke up, came straight to my computer, straight to Kristen's husband's FB page, and saw that she is SAFE ON US SOIL! She made it to the through the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince and they did indeed take them through Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. She is with another adoptive mom and also FIVE children of the missionary family they have been staying with. She had to leave all her luggage at the Embassy in Haiti. Can you even imagine this journey she has been on? All the while carrying an infant--with no luggage? And helping with several other young friends? They, along with several other evacuees were flown to New Jersey and slept part of the night on a military cot at the McGuire air force base, where the Red Cross has been providing food, showers and supplies before they were given a police escort to the Philadephia airport to get flights out. PRAISE GOD! I'm still crying with relief.
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Please pray also for the Livesays, the missionaries in Haiti, who had to send away their children in the care of the 15 year-old sister, Paige, (as well as Kristen and the other mom, Erin) in the midst of chaos and terror, for their own safety. They took them to the US Embassy and said goodbye to them--with no luggage to an undisclosed location in the US-- not even knowing where their children would land or when they would see them again. I cannot imagine how hard that must have been. See Tara Livesay's updates here. I've spent tons of time reading her new and old blog posts and feel like I know her. Kristen and Karis are accompanying the five Livesay children to Dallas, where they will be taken care of by their oldest sister and her husband, as well as their grandparents. Pray for these children who have seen more tragedy in the last few days than most of us will see in a lifetime, that God will heal their hearts and minds and give them peace while they are away from their parents.
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Nothing new from Lifeline about my friends in Grand Guave. I know the leadership is still working hard to find a way to get them to the airport---when there is a flight there that will take them, which at this point there is not. Some American (coughOregoncough) congressmen have suggested they just go to the airport and hope for the best, but they are wisely staying put in relative safety. Taking a 4 hour bus ride through a ravished landscape and cities in rubble and chaos to wait around at an almost nonoperational airport does not sound good. What if they had to turn around go back?! They are continuing to minister to the hundreds of Haitians who have come for help. Keep praying!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A couple updates

First, Kristen and Karis are at the US Embassy, where they will presumably be put on a flight tonight or tomorrow morning through the Dominican Republic back to the US. Not a done deal, and we'll all have much more peace when she is back on US soil, but it's good sign that she is in a safe place with a tentative plan.

Also, fantastic news from Lifeline, the organization through which several of my friends are on (and were on when the earthquake hit) a short-term mission in Haiti. They also sponsor a 3 story orphanage near the epicenter of quake, and no one was able to get ANY communication with them for almost 48 hours. The worst was feared. I just read on the website that ALL THE CHILDREN are safe! I won't lie--I burst into tears.

The team is in Grand Guave, a small town about 30-40 miles from Port-au-Prince. The compound has had much damage, but all the women from BCC (my other church home) are safe and unharmed. Today is the first day there has been any signs that the roads might even be passable back to the capital. This is only a first step, as PAP (capital) is in chaotic rubble, and the airport is barely functioning. However, the Lifeline leadership is making great strides to get the team out safely ASAP. In the meantime, the Haitians are coming in droves to the compound, feeling that they will be safer there. This is giving amazing opportunities to minister to the community. It is just the beginning in what will be years of attempted recovery--physical, emotional and spiritual. As a friend of mine said, the people of Haiti seemed to have nothing, and now they have even less.

Please pray

Please read Kristen Howerton's blog post--link to the right and also here. She was in Haiti during the earthquake and continues there amidst the devastation, trying to find a way out. We know there is a possible missionary cargo flight she could take today, but it would take God's hand to guide her through the devastation and chaos to be at the right place at the right time. Please, please pray for her safe return ASAP.

Also read updates on my other friends at www.lifeline.org. I hope to post more soon.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Filler post.

This was day #2 of "mattress in the living room" fun. Carson would stand at the laundry room door and run to do a somersault on the mattress. Sydney would mimic Carson. I was trying desperately to get a pic of them standing side-by-side at the door, b/c I thought it was cute. As usual, I didn't get the picture I'd hoped for, but the runners up are good blog filler.
Here's Carson explaining how to do a forward roll. Sydney looking rather lanky, getting ready for her big move. Also showing off her wispy fly-away hair.
GO!
Finally held still long enough to snap a pic!
Have you noticed all my photo shoots end with a picture strangely similar to this?

Friday, January 08, 2010

All day, people. All day.

This is a totally random video, but very "day in the life" if you will. Our neighbors gave us a barely used twin mattress that we plan to switch with Carson's rather old mattress. It's been in the garage for a few days, but Trent thought it would be fun to bring it into the living room the other night and let the kids jump on it. It was a big hit and I took lots of little vids. I thought this not-particularly eventful clip gives you an idea of the energy level that these kids have all the time.

video

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Warning: potentially offensive material.

Now that I have everyone's attention! Here's a Carsonism, fresh from this morning. You see, Carson has been potty trained for over a year and a half, but still doesn't wake himself up in the night to use the restroom, so he wears pull-ups to bed. Sometimes he stays dry, usually not. Early this morning his pull-up leaked.

Carson: I'm sorry, Mom.
Me: It's OK, buddy, it's not your fault.
Carson: I know. It's my penis' fault.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Magnetic Personality

No one can deny that it feels good to be wanted. To be loved. To have people care about you, pay attention to you, want to be around you. We'd love to walk into a room and have a group of people shout our name, a la NORM on Cheers. But, I'm here to report that there it is possible to experience too much of a good thing. Too much wanting. Too much attention, especially too much physical attention.
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Some of you faithful readers will remember when I posted about how my love language has changed after having children. Especially having a newborn who was a lousy nurser and a toddler who viewed his mother and sister as his own jungle gym, I no longer craved personal touch--what I really wanted was personal SPACE. Although we're in a different stage--no, I'm not nursing a 18 month old, thank you--I still notice that several times a day I feel like the children's personal bounce house.
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You see, the Monkey and the Birdie have this innate radar system that immediately alerts them when I try to focus on something other than their every whim and desire. If I forget myself for a moment and try to accomplish a task whilst SITTING down, such as emailing, calling the insurance company or folding laundry, I unknowingly send out an invitation for Carson to see if he can balance on my head and for Sydney to see if she is strong enough to pry my legs off of the seat whilst alerting the neighbors to my dastardly ways. AND destroying the neat piles of clean, folded laundry.
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A particularly delightful scenario occurs when my attention is needed on the floor. For example, sweeping crumbs into the dust pan, watering the Christmas tree, or retrieving something from under the bed. I long ago informed my husband that if I was kneeling or bending over, it was usually because I was attending to some task at hand, and I was not doing it as an beckoning for him to playfully slap my behind. In the same way, I have informed the children that these lower altitude tasks are not my way of making my entire body more accessible for them to crawl and wrestle with me and turn me into a play-horsie. However, their young minds do not yet read the warning looks and tone in my voice as well as their father, and they continue to treat me like some grocery store lobby ride--and I don't even get a quarter.
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The most ironic part of this whole situation is that it is such a 2 way street. There is still a huge part of me that wants to hold them, cuddle them, hug and kiss them frequently. There is nothing that calms me like the feel of one of my babies' (yes, they're still my babies) faces pressed against mine. And when I'm wanting them to let me do that? They usually run away and are suddenly and magically able to be self-entertaining.
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But when the magnetic energy is aligned, when both me and one of my children is needing some affection, there is nothing that feeds my soul more than having them with me, next to me, in my lap, arms around my neck. I feel like the center of the universe--and I like it.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

No, seriously. Who was that?

"Who was that masked man?"
Carson is intrigued by all things superhero related. He has an affinity towards Superman, because his daddy and uncle do as well. He also loves Spiderman, which is a perfect example of American consumerism at its best, since Carson has not seen even one television show or movie with Spiderman.
So, when he got a handmade superhero cape as a gift from Aunt Sharon (and Charlie!) in our extended family gift exchange, he was totally thrilled. The cape is not exactly like Superman's, but it is a perfect blend of lots of superhero cape styles, including the mask, the gold monogram and flowing fabric behind him as he runs. So, may I present:
SUPERCARSON!