Saturday, March 31, 2012

Haiti - Part 2

In addition to visiting different missions in the area, Robin and Kaylin also got a chance to do some sight seeing. CWFH took their staff and their vision trippers to a couple of different spots. Great timing. So, these are just a few of the places they got to see in Haiti.
Robin and Kaylin brought back some of these coffee beans roasted by this very lady. I am having a cup right now. Excellent.
The memorial to honour all of those buried in the mass graves after the earthquake.
The Bicentennial Monument that honours independence from France in 1804.
The Presidential Palace that was destroyed in the earthquake.
I can remember in 1982 when I was in Haiti sitting next to people in the airport who had just come back from Club Med Haiti. After spending a summer there, it just seemed wrong to see what I considered the indulgence of spoiled Americans being far removed from the reality of life in Haiti. Club Med was closed a couple of times in Haiti due to the instability in the country but the facility now belongs to a local Haitian and is a retreat from that same reality of Haiti.
It still isn't back to its former glory but it is nice and is now Club Indigo. Locally owned and operated. However, as Kaylin was sitting there, contributing to the local economy, she said that it just felt wrong. But it was part of their experience.

Haiti - Part 1

Ever since we knew we were adopting from Haiti we have wanted the entire family to experience the beauty and uniqueness that is Haiti. This March it was Kaylin's turn to go. She and Robin mapped out a trip and an experience that was just for them. They didn't go with a team but they had the chance to visit some great missions and see the beauty of the Haitian country.
Robin asked each group they would be visiting if there was anything they would like him to bring. He was only held back by the limitations of the airlines. Because it was a busy period he was told they could only check 3 bags which was too bad, because they could have brought a lot more.
They headed first to the island of La Gonave which involves the gorgeous blue waters and a rustic boat. 3 years ago Robin and Emily had the chance to go up the bumpy windy road to Terre Cel to visit a school there. They were both humbled and amazed at the sparseness of the school and the area and yet the spirit of the teacher there. This trip, they were both saddened that things seemed to be in much the same situation. However, they are hopeful that the community can get a plan in place and have access to funds that are currently in place just for a new school.
And again, they were both amazed at the spirit and tenacity of the teacher they met. With nothing to work with, he still manages to faithfully show up and educate the children of the community.
Coming down the mountain, they loved the markets with the parking lot for the mules.
Kaylin was especially excited to visit with Beth Gould, a nurse from Nova Scotia who is working in the hospital there. The only request she had was vitamins for the kids.
One day Kaylin suited up and spent time in the hospital. There was a visiting surgeon so she had the opportunity to see surgery and also a birth. She is more excited than ever to begin her nursing journey. And as a mother, I'm so thankful for men and women who will share their passions and allow a young person an up close look at their world.
After 4 days on La Gonave, they headed back to the mainland and to an organization called Clean Water for Haiti. I had heard of this group because the couple that run it have adopted a little girl from Haiti and they have a family blog that I have followed through the years. They also write a blog just for CWFH where you can read more about them and also about their vision trip. Their location is right on the ocean and they have maintained lots of trees in their area so Robin and Kaylin were not exactly suffering.
On Sunday they walked up a trail to a small church where the Rollings often worship. Just in case Kaylin was missing her little sister, Olivia was more than willing to jump into Kaylin's arms.
The church was small but Robin and Kaylin enjoyed the experience.
CWFH does not offer the typical missions trip where people come and work. Instead they offer vision trips where people can come and "catch the vision" for what they are doing in Haiti. Visitors come and see and can participate on a small level with the production and distribution of the biosand filters. There is always lots of talk about not taking work away from locals and too often that is the unanticipated result of too many missions. Kaylin figures her presence there created work for the locals. Every thing she did, a Haitian worker would come behind her and "fix".
This is the truck they used to travel around to the different communities to check on filters they had already distributed and to visit new communities.
Again, this was an experience unlike anything else Robin had before. They went through countryside where the rice fields were lush and green and as far as the eye could see. And yet, in those communities, there was real crushing poverty juxtaposed against the beautiful lush landscape.
One day when they were out with the filters, they had to stop at a local spot for their lunch. Robin and Kaylin had their shots so they went for it.
This has got to be one of the coolest trees anywhere. I just thought of that huge tree in the most recent Pride and Prejudice move and thought it had nothing on this tree. Part 2 to come later.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Where was my camera

This week the weather has been amazing. The kids have been outside as much as possible and last night when we walked to the playground, the new parents were out in force with their cameras getting the cutest pictures of their babies in swings, and coming down the slide. For the most part I have been a slacker mom with the camera.
But I did manage to get Gaëlle on her scooter just working hard and having a blast.
Then there's Peter. Notice the crutches. Today the school called to let me know Peter was playing soccer and had fallen. I needed to come pick him up. So away I went. And away we went to the hospital. Fortunately he is not in pain, really, but he did something to the ligaments in his right knee. He can't put a lot of weight on it and he has been referred to the orthopedic surgeon at the IWK. The Dr from the IWK even called our home tonight and asked about his knee and his symptoms and let me know that he didn't want Peter to put any weight on his knee and to use the crutches. So, there you go. What a day. But the good news is that Sunday's coming. It's another birthday and 2 special people are coming home. We have missed them soooo much.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Still celebrating

Friday Peter officially turned 11 so we went out to Boston Pizza which was his choice and another item off our March Madness list. He had a few more presents given to him and so the waitress asked if it was his birthday. Emily and I knew what was coming but Peter didn't have a clue.
Where is the camera when you need it? The staff all came out singing their birthday song and Peter looked all around to see what was going on. When he realized the singing was for him, his face was priceless. He was shocked! and embarrassed! After it was all over, he said, "Let's not tell anybody it's my birthday next time."
He was given another new game by Josh. The game of the night was Appletters. It's another word game but it's almost harder than Bananagrams. It's still fun.
Emily was the champ this night. And clearly pleased with herself.
Another fun moment of the night was when Peter did an imitation of Josh. Josh watched the kids one night for me and Peter wasn't too pleased with his bedtime. However he had been sick so Josh may have given a bit of a lecture and wielded his authority. The topic came up and so Peter gave his impersonation of Josh. It was so unexpected and spot on that I think Emily and I laughed so hard we had tears. Fun times. But I think we can finally put Peter's birthday to rest for 2012. We are done.

Our own March Madness

Well March is in full swing and most of the birthdays are behind us and we had 2 weeks ahead of us with just 3 of us in the house. So we put together 14 activities that we could possibly do. Keeping in mind that one of us was working and the other 2 only had one week off of school and the other week they would be in school.
Then enter illness. Peter has been sick on and off the entire first week of our March Madness. Here he is halfway through the day in his pj's being entertained by the great big book of History of the 20th century. I'm sure Joshua was entertaining as well.
He was so miserable on Wednesday that I had to stay home with the kids. Well actually only for half of the day. But that gave Gaëlle and I the chance to do some baking. We made easter egg cakes decorated with lots of icing.
We also had an unexpected visit from Grammy and Grampy. My aunt passed away and so my parents came up for the funeral. It was truly sad to say goodbye to my aunt and to know that she leaves her family behind. But selfishly, it was a blessing to have my parents around.
Gaëlle had an attentive playmate in her Grampy. He sewed cards with her.
He even played blindfold games with her. She was deliriously happy to snatch the hidden object away from him and run it to another hiding spot. Not many of us would have the patience to put up with that, but he did and happily. And she giggled and giggled.
We did manage to knock off one of our activities from our list. We went to visit the submarine playground downtown and it was a perfect day for it. Still a little cool but it was nice and sunny and just great to be outside.
The submarine is bright orange and really kind of fun to look at. Peter prefers the old ship better but this one is unique and lots of fun too.
Peter is an old pro at the wave. He made it to the top on his 2nd try. Gaëlle still can't quite get there on her own. Some day.
I tried to get a photo of the kids with their grandparents but one of the 4 was stuck on being silly. Oh well.

The birthdays keep coming

We had a 2 party day. A few days late for Emily and a few days early for Peter. But first in the day was Peter's party. He asked for pizza and ice cream cake. Actually he asked for cheesecake but I thought that was a little too much for kids. So he went with ice cream. Instead of a store bought one, I made it. It tasted great, but it didn't look all that professional.
Then Peter and his friends headed out for a movie. They went to see "Journey 2" and it seems that they all really enjoyed it.
Next in the day was Emily's birthday meal. I don't even have to ask her what she would like. She loves a ham meal with mashed potatoes smothered with cream corn.
She has asked for the same cake for the past 2 years; chocolate chip banana cake with peanut butter cream cheese icing. It is soooooo good. A little goes a long way tho. I really can't believe that Emily is 21. Well I can but I can't. She has matured so much over the past few years and yet it seems like just yesterday that she was my little girl who promised her dad she would never grow up. I think the promise has been broken and I'm more than glad that it was. It's truly exciting to watch her flourish in her studies and in her activities.
Peter's main gift was a camera. He has had an old one that he has used that doesn't take great pictures so now he has one that works great. He was thrilled.
Emily & Kaylin were pretty pumped about one of the presents they gave Peter; a book about Star Wars. Emily thinks it's the kind of book they would have loved and that I never would have bought for them. They're probably right.
We ended the night with some games. As you can see the concentration was somewhat fierce. There's nothing like a rousing game of Bananagrams.
The girls also gave Peter the game of Clue. Again, it provoked some fierce concentration. Peter calls it the killing game which is sort of a unique perspective. All in all the day was wonderful. It was full and busy but wonderful. I enjoyed time together with family and friends and can easily count myself as blessed to have so much fullness in my life.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Around the house

I've got to say, Gaëlle loves to fool around. Apparently there is this thing that annoys a lot of people. It's typically girls who pose for photos when they purse their lips and look like a duck. Well, once Gaëlle heard the older teen girls talking about that. She was all over it. I don't think she quite got the concept. But she had fun.
Robin started a coffee fund at work and all of the money goes to children's charities; locally and internationally. A simple thing but it has raised a ton of money. Lately Gaëlle has been having fun helping him count the coins.
Peter had to get in the posing fun. I'm not quite sure what he calls this but he also couldn't quite get the duck pose down. He just wanted to smile.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Birthday review

We have to take the obligatory 5 kids together around the birthday child. It is such a privilege to have them all so close. This hasn't always been the case and I know it will not always be the case. I'm totally loving it for now.
Kaylin didn't have a request for her birthday meal so I decided to try something new. I just searched for a fish recipe and came up with Grilled Tilipia with Mango Salsa. It was great and a big hit with everybody, except Josh who is not a fan of fish but will eat it.
For her cake, she only requested cheesecake. So I could have gone with a tried and true one as I do have a couple that I make and just love. But again, I decided to go with something different. So again, I searched and found all kinds of elaborate peanut butter chocolate versions (Pinterest is loaded with them). But I decided to go with a basic Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake and it was perfect. You could easily dress it up with toppings.
We've got to end with Peter and Gaëlle hamming it up. They do know how to perform.
Lately Gaëlle has taken an interest in grooming Snickers. Now, she needs it, but I don't know that she necessarily likes it. But she does pretty well just standing there and taking it.