The Beasts

The last couple weeks our family has been nurturing two beasts.  
Let me introduce you to the first one.  
This is Dakota and she is Aili and Roman's first official paying job.  Our neighbors have been away for about 10 days and my kids job is to tend to this hulk of a puppy.   They were thrilled to do it, until the first time they were mauled, tackled and drug around town.   I guess where enthusiasm ends, our lesson in diligence begins.   They get up each morning and go feed, scoop poop and walk the dog and then do the same in the afternoon.  It harder than it sounds because of his brute size and exuberant puppiness.   It has been a great lesson in responsibility for my big kids.  

I'm not sure how old this pup is now but only a few months ago it was a tiny fur ball.  It's going to get a lot bigger than this I think.  It is super cute, even though it can knock me off my feet.

The second beast our family has been nurturing is Norovirus.

This beast isn't cute at all.
For the past week our family has been battling the plague.  All 6 of us were incredibly ill for days.  I'll spare you the horrific details but more than enough body fluids have been forcefully ejected in various parts of the house out of various orifices.  We are all feeling better as of today but a couple of the little ones still have some bowel issues.  It's been a crazy house of horrors here I tell you.  I have been a an OCD disinfecting queen everyday, at least once I was able to scrape myself off the bathroom floor, and I am determined to defeat this Beast.  

We have missed out on appointments, 2 weeks of church, and school work (not that anyone is complaining about that one) and I'm ready to reclaim my life as usual.   We had made plans to visit a couple of my siblings and their families that live 5 hours from us this weekend but I am more doubtful as the days go on....I still have my fingers crossed that we'll be virus free by then.  I would hate to bring with us the gift that keeps on giving.  


This boy scares me

As a mom, I want to keep my kids safe.  Forever.  
However, since the time that this child could crawl I have known that keeping him alive would be a challenge.
He was built with an extra dose of courage,  a ridiculous craving for adventure and  heightened sense of honor.    

At the age of 2 he started informing me that he would soon be leaving to travel the world.  He told dramatic tales, at 3 years old, of sacrificing his own life to save us all from whatever danger or villain his imagination could conjure.  He assured us he would be our protector in the face of any adversary or disaster.   Despite his promises of "tomorrow I'm leaving" he hasn't left me to save the world...yet. 

I know I've only got about 10 years left before this boy is off and running though.  That makes me a little nervous sometimes.  There will be no safe accounting job in his future.   Whatever he does, it will most certainly include adrenaline and danger.  He aspires to protect the innocent, bring justice for victims, and boldly go where few are willing to go.   I doubt he will ever settle for status quo.  

He loves to watch to watch "Man vs. Wild" and adores Bear Gylles.   In preparation for his adventures he collects tips from "Survivor Man".  He then shares with me how to effectively strain swamp water through a sock or how it is possible to drink one's own urine.  Much to my delight of course.

He loves to dig and construct shelters, build fires in our fireplace with his flint, and carry his new army surplus canteen with him where ever he goes.  


While in Haiti, my husband worked with a retired U.S. airborne special forces Colonel.  This hardcore old gentleman decided to send my husband home with some souvenirs for Roman. The Colonel has either fought directly in, or was a chaplain, in every American battle from WWII to the first Gulf War.   I guess he heard enough Roman stories during his two weeks of building cabinets with my husband to know they would be appreciated.  He even wrote Roman a sweet letter.  

"It has come to my attention that you're a man after my own heart.  I hear that you like your cup of coffee in the morning, are inquisitive, like to explore and handle things - all of which describe me growing up during the great depression."

He reminded Roman that God loves him and to use the gifts God gave him.  

Roman has the letter safely tucked away in his treasure chest.

This boy has been saving up, and talking about buying a "fold up shovel" for a year now.  One he could carry with him on his bike (because you just never know when you'll need a shovel).   Roman was thrilled when his Dad pulled this one out of his suit case.  The Colonel had sent his genuine army issue "trenching tool" for Roman , along with the letter and a variety of "patches".   He is delighted that the edge of the entrenching tool also doubles as a hatchet (although as slightly inefficient, dull one).   He has already spent hours in the back yard chopping up dead branches with it. 

He used the money that he had saved up to buy a army surplus case for the tool as well as some other supplies that every 8 year old needs.   His survival collection now consists of a flint, an army issue canteen and case,  a trenching tool, a leatherman, and a swiss army knife.

When asked what he wants to do when he grows up, this boy usually either answers "a soldier",  "a Nazi fighter",  "an arborist" (you might have to google image that one),  or "a Bible smuggler".    

It's a good thing I trusted this boys life to God years ago!  I have a feeling his future will be spectacular, but I also suspect it will be anything but safe.  

I sometimes wish that I could keep him young, and safe at home forever.  However, I know God has big plans for this boy and I can release him to what ever that is.  As long as Jesus stays his only commander and chief I know he's in good hands. 

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
Do everything in love."   1 cor. 16:13

{Roman's favorite Bible verse)


Valentines day Bingo

We don't make a huge deal about Valentines day, especially now that we're not in public school with the usual card exchanges and parties.  It could easily go by unnoticed for the most part.  I'm kind of a cheap skate that way.  I just dislike spending money on commercialized money grabbing holidays.   Maybe I just like to be a nonconformist or maybe it's my own little way of "sticking it to the man" or most likely I'm just a  slightly cynical Fuddy Duddy.  My perspective is that we should be showing our loved ones that we love them every day by our words, actions, priorities and time.  A lifetime of sweet conversations, gentle eye contact, chubby little armed hugs is worth more than a Sponge bob heart shaped box of candy once a year.  
I like what my friends in Mexico call Valentines day.  "Dia de amor y amistad"
Day of love and friendship.   More than just cheesy "will you be my valetine?"  I guess I can embrace a day that reminds us to show the people who are important to us how special we think they are.  

Now that I have proven myself entirely unromantic and a total stick in the mud, I'll let you peak in on our unconventional Valentines Day.  We hadn't planned it in advance but we woke up that morning and decided to quickly make some cookies and drive nearly 2 hours to go and deliver them to some special people.   We  put the home school book work on hold for the day and chose a "life school" day instead.  

We whipped up some cookies and the kids pulled out all the crafting supplies.

We picked up a flower arrangement along the way and drove out to see my grandparents. 
We don't go to visit nearly often enough.  

I love my Grandpa!  I'm so lucky to still have 2 living Grandmas and 1 Grandpa.  They lived just down the road from us when I was a kid and I spent a lot of time at their house.  I loved to help feed the cows, ride in the tractors, and help Grandma shell peas from her garden.  My Grandpa was always so big and tall and strong to me.  His hands are still huge, and marked by his years of hard farm work.  His memory is good, but all those years of loud machinery ruined his hearing, making conversation difficult.  Sometimes actions speak louder than words though.  

Miss Cece loved leading around her great Grandma.   My Grandma is as sweet as she ever was but now she lives in a perpetual state of childlike surprise and wonder.   She is always happy to see us and she adores seeing the children.  She calls them "my little girl" and "my little boy".  The flowers and cookies we left will pleasantly surprise her every time she sees them, as she wonders aloud who would have left them in her room.   

My favorite memories of my Grandma will always include music.  She is a very talented natural musician who taught herself to play by ear.   While we visited in her room we asked if we could walk out to the main sitting area so she could play piano for us, and so Aili and Roman could play their new songs for her.   She asked my Grandpa "Where is my piano?  I don't know where my piano is.  Is there a piano here do you think?"  (that made me a little sad because her well worn piano is still back at the farm house).   She was pleasantly surprised to find a piano, the same one she plays everyday in the nursing home, and began to play for us.   Her fingers bounced across the keys with ease as she played.  Locked away in her memory is music.   She couldn't remember where her piano was but she still remembered the old hymns.  

She doted on little Cece.  It was so sweet.   She said a few times  "I just can't imagine where she got all that dark hair from".   I don't even try to explain.  I just shrug my shoulders and laugh along with her, enjoying the moment.  I notice that her joyful laugh hasn't changed.  

We just happened to arrive in time for the monthly Birthday party/ Bingo game.  The kids were being so good that we decided to stay and play.   The kids had fun watching for their numbers.  Grandpa, the perpetual mechanic, had torn apart his hearing aids (trying to "fix" them) so he couldn't hear any of the numbers.   Grandma got the hang of it after a while and then she was such a pro she kept three cards going.  

Who would have thought playing Bingo in a nursing home would be so much fun?  I didn't.  As it turns out visiting a seniors home is a great way to "socialize" my kids.   They got to practice being patient, considerate and careful around those who walk slowly and unsteadily with walkers.  They practiced breaking down their discomfort over disability and frailty.  They practiced showing kindness and respect to those who have lived long and interesting lives. 

Roman even won the first round and scored $6!

The boys were thoroughly impressed that the TV in this main room  had a Wii.  We didn't play with it but my boys thought they must be some pretty cool old people.  
I think Cece was everybody's granddaughter for an afternoon.  She sure wasn't lacking for attention. 

Our Valentines day didn't include a romantic get away, or a box full of cards, but it turned out to be a pretty special day of love and friendship.  

{Me and my Grandma}


A Burlando in Haiti

 I have been a lazy blogger.  Life around here has been both busy and mundane so I haven't had much ambition to write.  Our biggest event this past few weeks was that the man of the house was gone for 2 weeks.  Me and the kids held down the fort at home while we gave the Dad of the house our blessing to go and work in Haiti.  We survived without him...barely.

My parents have lived and worked there on and off for several years.  Originally they were based out of Port au Prince but since the earth quake they have lived in Dessalines.  Other than seeing occasional pictures we really weren't sure what life was like for them there or even what they really did.

My parents asked my Hubster (who works for them on their farm) if he would be willing to come to Haiti and share some of his cabinet making/ woodworking skills.  He honestly wasn't all that eager.
We had just got back from Mexico, he wasn't keen on leaving his family for that long, and quite truthfully....we've heard Haiti isn't exactly a popular travel destination, but we decided it would be a good opportunity for him to go.

The trip turned out to be a great experience for him (I told him so..wink) and he thoroughly enjoyed his time there.  He was full of stories when he got home.  Since I wasn't the one experiencing it or doing the work I can't really write much about it.  The pictures he took are pretty cool though , so I thought I'd share some.

My Dad with some neighbor kids.  It's really hard to find a picture where most of them have clothes on.  Kids often don't wear any....my boys would love it there. 

This young husband and father works with my Dad on his projects.  His wife and four kids stopped by the mission one day and Nathanael gave them each a toy.   We barely left room for clothes  in his suitcase with all the sundresses and toys we sent along (if I can't go...I at least have to send something).  It looks like they got some new duds at some point too.  This family lives in a typical mud hut and struggles like every other family.  I think this family is gorgeous!  Pictures like this give me hope. 

Haiti is such a mix of beauty and suffering. 

It was surprisingly expensive to rent a spot on the beach on Sunday afternoon.
Strangely enough, after all the terrifying scenarios I had run through my mind when sending my husband to Haiti, I didn't expect his run in with death to be at the beach.  While he was swimming under water a Jet ski came buzzing through the roped off swim area at full speed.  My Hubster heard a funny noise and popped his head out of the water just as the jet ski roared by his face.  It actually skimmed his head.   A few more inches and ...it would have been really bad.  I'm very glad that my husbands head is still attached to his neck.  
There were a lot of angry spectators  and the guy was dealt with by the police. 

Toll bridge anyone?

My Dad and a friend.  

The dude that the city is named after.

The dude that builds stuff.  He's kind of cute.  These are some of the (unstained) cabinets that he built doors  on during his two weeks there.  These are in my parents kitchen.  I suspect that they are happy to have cupboards to keep out the dust....although they probably won't last long with the termites. They build kitchens with as much cement and steel as possible.  He built about 60 cabinet doors for various buildings during his stay. 

Speaking of cute.  This is a little girl I wish my husband could have packed home with him.  She lives at the same orphanage that my Haitian sister has been living at.  The teenage girls at the orphanage take on the mothering role for the babies and toddlers there.  This has been my sister's side kick for nearly two years.   It will be hard for them to separate I'm sure.  She isn't "adoptable" though, even though she has no family, has been abandoned, and has always lived at an orphanage.  I find that really sad that she is destined to grow up without a family.  I wish adoption rules included more common sense. 

My husband and a friend woodworking.  He was telling me stories of this Haitian man and his twin brother.  They are both built like ox.  He said they can carry 3 x 100lb bags of cement on their heads.  300lbs! 

A visit to the orphanage that has been my sisters home since the earthquake.  She lives with my parents while they are in Haiti though (they come back to the farm in the spring). We are hoping she will be home in Canada with them soon.  It's been 2 years of red tape and jumping through hoops already.  

A typical home in Dessalines.

Apparently little boys are ninja warriors in other countries too.

A regular, and loud, cultural experience.  A "ra-ra"

Lots of rice fields.

I'm conflicted because I find this both disturbing and funny.  
They've got all the options covered if you get hurt.
Get in...you're mostly dead anyway. 

A relic from the past.

Dessalines is surrounded by mountains that are speckled with old forts.  


The kids liked seeing themselves in the view finder of the camera.

This tough old lady was quite impressed with seeing an image of herself in the camera.  Chances are she's never seen herself in a picture...or maybe even mirror.  

My husband, my parents and my littlest sister.  So proud of each one of them.