Posted: 29 Dec 2009
One day to go!
Joyce and I are back, and today is a full day of Christmas party preperation! We are celebrating Jesus birthday at the Toddler House tomorrow! The kids are pumped! They have been counting down the days since we first told them that we were postponing the party this year to the 30th. When I got back from the airport yesterday the first thing they asked was if Christmas was on Wednesday:) So today Joyce and I are wrapping all the wonderful donated toys for the kids! Every child will have a stuffed stocking of treats, and a wrapped present to open. We'll have special food, and the dining hall is going to be decorated in true Christmas style when they walk in for Christmas dinner. The stockings are hung, the tree (needs a little repair from the storm last week) is lit, and the nativity costumes were pulled out of the box. There will be little sleep tonight as tiny children lay awake in their beds thinking of the "fét" ahead! :)
Posted: 8 Dec 2009
Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas .
Weve been busy getting things ready for Christmas at Kay B. Today Joyces English classes spent some time making decorations and Christmas cards, and jazzing up their school room. Joyce let them decide how they wanted everything and the kids couldnt believe when she pulled out a big green sack and told them to dig in! The oldest class did the bulk of the hanging stuff, and the younger classes did a fantastic job coloring and using stickersJ. Sonise was elected light putter upper and armed with a roll of duck tape strung lights everywhere. Rose Mitha did the snowy window panes, and Robenson decided where 60 feet of garland should go. We listened to Jingle Bells Santa Claus is Coming to Town & Frosty the Snowman. It was a very festive time with Odeleine, Ilienne, and Rose Michelle stopping every few minutes to twirl in circles and look at their creation as it went together. Chalinda and Ilienne made over 25 feet of green and red paper chains to hang from the ceiling, and Remy dutifully moved around the room hanging up the snowflakes they had all designed and cut out. The end result resembled a hair parlor in Jersey and ITS BEAUTIFUL!! Have a look!
Posted: 4 Dec 2009
Every Friday night we have Movie Night at the Toddler House for the oldest 15 kids. This is a HUGE deal to these kids, and one of the few great privileges they cherish. Last spring we had several 5 year old boys being very naughty in school and getting kicked out half way through class. We tried reasoning with them, putting them in quiet time, making them clean their rooms, etc. Nothing was working. Then we decided to hold their Movie Night privileges as penalty for getting kicked out of school and things changedJ.
On most nights the bath order goes youngest to oldest. Leaving the oldest boys and girls to bathe and dress themselves while the nannies are drying and dressing the little kids. But on Movie Night the big kids go FIRST, and by the time we pull in the drive after having supper at the main house they are lined up in their pjs just inside the house, as we pile out of the car there is usually a big cheer! One at a time they leave the line and find their chair, then popcorn or Cheeko (another story) is handed out. Finally we begin the VOTE. We have a VERY wide selection of childrens movies thanks to the lovely families and volunteers that have brought them down for this purpose. Joyce or I bring out a selection of 10 to 12 movies and hold them up one at a time. Each child gets to vote ONCE, however it tends to end up that everyone votes for whatever ones they want, and we just tally it up. Samar tends to vote for every single one every single Friday, sweet girl that she is, so easy to please and grateful for everything. I feel like the vote is usually a great majority, this is the result of discussion amongst the kids previous to the night. The current favorite movie is Marley and Me after a very long reign for the Air Bud movies, previous to that Cheeper by the Dozen and Babys Day Out were big hits. In Babys Day Out the kids are CERTAIN very very CERTAIN that one of the babies who is just jabbering in the movie is speaking Creole, because the phrase the little boy says does sound like a true sentence. Its amazing that they could pick that out! Joyce always sets up English captions at the bottom and this helps a lot. That way if there is something they really dont follow they can read along (a few can read that fast!) and explain to the others what is REALLY happening, not speculated. Most of the 90 film there is non-stop chatter as the kids debate and discuss what is going on in each scene, what will happen, what they feel should have happened, what they do and dont like about it, and who are the characters is nice and love Jesus and who is mean. If ever you decide to sit and watch with them, plan on missing the movie entirely but enjoy the entertainment of observing these incredible kids!
Posted: 3 December 2009
We have a GRAND total of 14 sibling sets at the Toddler House. Thats a lot of siblings, and these kids as a rule have a very strong bond with each other. They have virtually lost the rest of their family, and their brother or sister is their best friend for those first few days in their new home at Kay B and though after that they make new good friends and adopt brothers, sisters, mamas, aunts, and uncles their closest bond is always their true sibling. Their love for each other is expressed in many ways. The older is ALWAYS the protector of the younger without fail. All the younger must do is pout a little and the older is at their side wanting to know who caused them grief and if they should get them back! The younger is always ready with sympathy for the older and always ready to shower love and affection on them. Both sibs are great at sharing older to younger/ younger to older, everything you give them they will save a half for their sibling, or make sure that their sibling gets to play with the toy next. Siblings always look out for each other not to get missed. If one sibling is going for a walk they will run to find out if their brother/ sister wants to come before they leave. Or if we are handing out balloons or sidewalk chalk the sib that is present will ask to hold a portion for their sib that is in school or using the bathroom. Its an amazing bond! One of the most amazing things about it to me is the sacrifice one sib is willing to make for another. A recent example: Ermithe was being Joyces helper during her sister Destinees class the other day. Destinee did not do her homework the night before. Ermithe, knowing that the penalty of this for her older class was to have to stand in silence by the wall for five minutes, quickly hurried to Joyces side and with a very serious expression asked, If Destinee has to stand by the wall can I please do it for her? Such incredible love
Posted: 2 Dec 2009
Every evening the kids have a rinse off, lotion up, get their pjs on, and settle down for bed. This process usually takes 45 minutes to an hour. Most nights the ladies give the kids a grace period of 30 minutes to chat, sing, cuddle in each others beds, jump around a bit, do their homework, play in the blankets, dance, or whatever other ways they burn off the last of their energy. At the end of this time one word puts everyone to bed, Kabann! Usually it is chanted slowly and repeatedly till the last little pair of footed pj feet is in its bed. The lights are turned off and almost certainly every little angel will be sleeping soundly within 20 minutes. I love the joy that exuberates from their rooms during this time. They have come from so many backgrounds of hardship and suffering but at bedtime they are simply just fed, clean, carefree little darlings enjoying the last of the day before they say Good-Night.
Posted: 1 Dec 2009
Now All We Need are Some Names
Last year in November when Joyce and I were in the states a ten gallon aquarium caught our eyes. We stood there in the store for half an hour figuring out in our heads not only how do we get this thing back to Haiti in one piece, but also how do we display it where the kids are able to see it at all times and yet not destroy it? We came up with a plan in our heads and decided to go for it hoping that a talented carpenter would come along who could help construct our idea. That carpenter came in the form of my brother, Daniel, who not only took the project on but bettered our blueprint and came up with something much more functional. The display table had been sitting in our garage for several days drying through its various varnish coats and it was driving the kids crazy that every time they asked what it was we would simply reply, A Surprise! This morning under quilts we hauled all the things for our underwater village through the yard of kids and into the girls house dining room. We shooed everyone out of the house and after Daniel bolted the table to the wall we slid the aquarium into place and began arranging rocks and vegetation. Joyce came up with an island floating on bamboo skewers to give the three tiny local turtles a place they could climb up on and take a breather. Meanwhile Josh was busy making sure our four goldfish and two algae feeders were acclimatized to the water before we let them loose. Finally Daniel latched the lid, plugged in the light, and we were ready! The kids began to form lines outside according to height and age. No one could guess, not even one, what we were doing! Some thought it could be funny chair, or a dresser, but they werent even close. It was with a range of mixed emotions that the kids filed in and discovered their new pets. Manuel and Guerlens were not sure that they should get within three feet of the tank. Whereas within seconds Manaika and Daralyne had their noises pressed against the glass. Silvanie, Jerry, and KiKin started jabbering immediately about the underwater creatures, though much of their baby speech was lost on usJ. Everyone had questions, wanting to know if they had to be fed, what they eat, if the goldfish and algae eaters are friends, etc. The kids came in and out all day checking in on their new pets, and enjoying the total access they had to looking at them anytime they wanted. LaLan snuck down during naptime just to get some exclusive alone time with themJ. And tonight a countless number of pjd bodies have made their way downstairs to see the fish one last time, cause the light in the tank is just so much brighter and better when it is dark outside, wink, wink. Now all we need are some names but thatll be another day.
Posted: 30 Nov 2009
She was Everyones Friend
One week ago a very special little person left Haiti and the GLA Toddler House for the final time and was at long last united with all of her Forever Family. We are overjoyed for her and her family, but with her she has taken a part of all our hearts. The kids knew she was leaving, but continue to ask if she left for good. They are happy for her, but miss their good friend. Tears have been shed by her caregivers, and the rest of the nannies, as well as the cooks, not to mention Joyce and I! We all miss her! They have asked to see the photos of her in her new home with her new family, they want to know constantly how she is and what she is doing. What an impact she has made on us all! What a blessing each and every one of these children is, what joy their smiles bring, their loving arms opened wide always ready to receive love, but also to give it this little princess reached out to every child around her, it didnt make a difference to her if they were 2 of 12 she was everyones friend, and everyone counted it a privilege to be had! Darling girl, we wish you the best this world has to offer! May God continue to use you everywhere you go, and every day as you grow. May you feel loved as you have never before, and find your perfect place in the family God has prepared for you. We will always love you ..
Posted: 29 Nov 2009
Off to Church
The kids love to go to our local church. The services are all in Creole and French. The church is packed, and the morning worship lasts 3 hours. There is not often children's church, and when there is it is still 3 hours of sitting still on a wooden bench, so obviously not all the kid are able to handle that:). Each week about 18 Kay B kids from 5-12 years old get all dressed up and walk the 6 blocks to church. I think what they enjoy most is the worship time, which is usually about half the service. The whole congretation sings and praises the Lord at the top of their lungs, accompanied by a keyboard, sometimes drums throughout the week. I snapped a couple shots this morning before they left... but the boys were getting ready up until the last minute so their shots are from a few weeks ago.
Posted: 28 Nov 2009
Saturday is hair washing day every week at Kay B. The kids get their extensive braids taken out on Friday, and loose braids are put in for the rest of the day and to sleep with. Then early on Saturday morning, all the loose braids are combed out, and everyone gets a good scalp soap down. Even many of the 4 year olds can take out their loose braids on their own or help a younger child do it, all together they make quick work of the ritual and all 36 girls are ready for suds by 6:30am. We use approximately 30 ozs of shampoo every Saturday alone! After a good shampoo, they leave it fluffed and full to dry while having breakfast. They spend most of the morning out in the sun helping their full fro's to dry before everyone gets a good conditioning of a waxy pomade and the ladies nimble fingers go to work creating lots of beautiful braided styles to get them through the next few days:)
Posted: 27 Nov 2009
Joyce was ambitious this afternoon and took the oldest children down to the public soccer field on Thomassin #25. The field was clear except for a few lingering local school kids who had just gotten out of class. Most of the volunteers went along for the fun, and when they plus the kids walked onto the field a crowd of local children began to gather. Sure enough when the first kick was played they had more than enough participants to make it an exciting game. The group played kickball, softball, blew bubbles, and played with the parachute. Our kids enjoyed socializing with some new friends and did very well explaining the rules to the games and cooperating with them. It was very impressive and a good hands on life lesson for this afternoon.
Posted: 26 Nov 2009
We have SO MUCH to be Thankful for!
It has been far too long since I shared a little of the fast paced life of Kay B with you all! But what better day to get back in the swing of things than Thanksgiving!!! We had a grand celebration with the kids and nannies. There were smiles all around as everyone enjoyed extra large portions of fried chicken, mushroom rice, finger jello, pickles, creole sauce, and chocolate cupcakes! Several of the kids spent a few hours this morning making colorful paper turkeys and writing on them things they were thankful for. Our refrigerator is covered with the reminder of the blessings we recieve each and every day. We have SO MUCH to be thankful for! Thank you for your support in prayer and finances that allows us to continue with the ministry here at GLA that God has brought about! May He continue to bless you for it!
Posted: 22 Dec 2008
A Day at the Nutcracker Ballet
Saturday we had a very rare opportunity to take a large group of kids on an outing. A Haitian dance school was putting on The Nutcracker Ballet at a high school nearby. They heard of GLA through a random connection and offered free tickets to as many children from the orphanage as we wanted to bring. What a thoughtful thing to do!! Joyce and I at times will take kids out for a special treat but with only on vehicle, and only 10-12 children at a time. This day however Dixie also drove a car, and James, giving us the capacity to seat 22 kids, as well as volunteers and some staff! We took all the kids that were just under 5 years and everyone older. It just so happened that it turned out to be 11 girls and 11 boys, perfectly even. The girls got their hair done the day before, which was great, cause had we waited till Saturday morning to do it there would have been no way wed have left the house at 9:30am. Everyone got to get dressed up in a new outfit including new footwear! Our kids are so many different shapes and sizes that it took a little time to find the perfect fit for everyone, but by the time Dixie and James arrived at Kay B to pick up part of the group everyone was standing at the gate and excited to go. The drive down took only a short 25 minutes (seemed like a breeze compared to the previous days travel) and there was even parking by the school where the ballet was hosted! We unloaded and found seats on the balcony level so the kids would be above everyone else and could see better. Then they all put on their florescent pick wrist bands (tickets) and waited expectantly. They waited and waited and waited.. and were SO GOOD about it. I could hardly believe how patient they were. An hour and a half after scheduled show time the music started. Only in Haiti. It was beautiful, the kids were captivated. I watched their expressions more than I watched the show. Each one liked a different dance in the ballet, or a different costume. The dancers were very good, and the costumes were bright and colorful. At one point there were little 6 year olds standing just off stage in red dressed with golden angel wings. Evna could see them standing there and was so interested she missed the rest of the current scene and tilted her head to try and get a better look at these little girls that were her age. The program lasted about 90 minutes which was perfect for our group. They were starting to get tired. All the dancers came back out on stage and everyone stood up and clapped for them, and then to the surprise and excitement of many many children who were there they announced that each and every child would receive a gift. There must have been over 300 kids there from different orphanages and schools, and each one received a sturdy should green shoulder bag and a brand new soccer ball. What a treat!!! All greatly enjoyed it, and it will be a memory these kids take with them from Haiti and all the way Home, the Christmas they watched The Nutcracker Ballet.
Posted: 17 Dec 2008
The Christmas Season
Time flies at Christmas! Its been an unusually busy December it seems. Or maybe I just forget about all things we try to pack in every Holiday Season and can never fit, but we try anyway. Toddler House Christmas decorations have been up for 3 weeks now, and then kids have been enjoying them. I am so thankful we did it early this year so that when other things came up it didnt have to be postponed and the kids will be able to enjoy them for a full month if the lights last that long. Four of our little munchkins seem to enjoy pulling the lights out of the string. I thought we had a handle on those four when to my surprise I was folding up a pair of the kids pants last night after they had gone to bed and three little light bulbs fell out of the pocket. Now if only I could remember who wore those pants yesterday? Thankfully we have a whole box of replacement bulbs. We have two trees up this year, the new one a full 8 ft tall and as beautiful as any fake tree I have ever seen! It is on the balcony away from little fingers, easily seen from the entire yard. And it is level with the girls bedrooms, so at night they can lay in bed and look out the window falling asleep to its colorful glow. Our other tree is only 3 ft tall, but it is downstairs just inside the garage and all the kids can come right up the door and look as long as they like. Baby Jesus is sleeping peacefully under that tree with the magi and His earthly parents looking on. We also have many stockings and garlands hung all around, and Jean Louis decorative light arrangements. The kids all have garland and bulbs hanging in their rooms, and Joyces kids in English class have completely remodeled their basement classroom. Homemade decorations are hanging from every possible place. Kikis preschool, our youngest kids, made about 30 feet of paper chains one morning!
So far weve manufactured, yes, manufactured, over 13 dozen Christmas cookies. Some may have a looked a little more professional than others, but ALL were enjoyed and ALL were consumed by one of the 165 little people, 70+ national staff, or 25+ foreign staff and volunteers. When you break it down like that, its really not that many cookies. Just a lot of time, laughter, and a LOT of sugar. Each member of Joyces classes participated in the baking. Many of the kids did not or did not want to understand that the dough had to baked. We handed out balls of dough and then showed an example of how to pat the dough flat and cut out a pretty shape. However by the time we got down the line to help each child several of the kids had smaller if not tiny tiny portions of dough left Jimmy in fact, had NONE. It seems it was much more tempting to eat the dough than to put it on a cookie sheet to be baked for after naptime. Everyone had a great time making and creatively decorating each of the sweets, and it helped bring a little traditional Christmas spirit to a warm green Haiti.
All the kids that made the move to Toddler House from the baby house in November are doing very well. The agility of children never ceases to amaze me. They all seem to have made new friends, memorized their new routine, and are loving the extra room, freedom, big kids to play with, and organized activities. We had to rearrange the school program and make an entirely new pre-school class just for the group that moved up in November! In the last two weeks five other children have come to call GLA Toddler House their home as well. These kids have come from various areas of Haiti, two from all the way up in Cap Haitian, and one even from Jeremie! They are doing very well and were already seeing new friendships form and bonds begin with the kids and their new caregivers. I am so thankful for a staff that is so in tune with and aware of each of these kids needs, fears, and comforts. They have been Christs hands as they spent long hours talking, holding, reassuring, and loving these new faces to help show them that they are wanted and have a place here with us.
We celebrated Wildes & Cindy Loves potty training success on Friday, FINALLY!!! lol.
Daniel found a big slug on Saturday which is currently residing in a 20oz coke bottle with hole in the lid, and his new name is Sheerah.
Monday I caught a 3 inch grasshopper in our kitchen. I thought the kids would love to see it, so I put it in a peanut butter jar and took it out to the yard. Since then Jackson, Daniel, Arry, Robenson, and Peterson have caught three more friends for the kreeket.
Arry lost a tooth yesterday morning. He was so proud and could not wait to show it to Joyce and I. We were elated for him and wowed over this big moment in his childhood for several minutes. Instead of quarters the kids get a piece of candy for their teeth an unusual trade, but they seem to like it. When Rèmy saw that Arry had candy, he called him over to help him with his loose tooth. Joyce saw what was happening and tried to intervene, but by the time she got to them the work was done and with a very large, very bloody gummed grin Rèmy proudly handed over his tooth and asked for a sucker.
Tonight its very chilly and there is a damp breeze. Its beginning to feel like winter. Joyce and I are just heading off to do rounds and make sure everyone is tucked in tight. Good Night!
Posted: 3 Dec 2008
I am a little late with this post, but Thanksgiving at Toddler House this year was just too good to go without being noted. Most Thanksgivings the kids enjoy a little change to the menu and an extra large portion of some great turkey. But in previous years I dont think theyve really gotten it. This year we celebrated the Wednesday before American Thanksgiving. The wonderful ladies in the kitchen at the main house cooked & carved two beautiful birds for us on Tuesday, so we were all set to go. Joyce and I explained the traditions behind the holiday to the staff and the kids several times over Monday and Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning the house was hopping! Even the staff got excited telling us what they were thankful for. Joyce got everyone to work decorating in our regular Toddler House celebration apparel, balloons, streamers, and homemade construction paper signs designed by our kids exclusively for the day. Ghislaine, our head cook, prepared garden rice and fried plantain, while Joyce and I put together some fresh dinner rolls, snow dusted cupcakes, and fall leaf jello jigglers. Dinner was set for 12:30pm. Rose Mitha, Chalinda, and Peterson proudly finished off the last touches to the dining room decor before we kicked them out to begin serving. In an attempt to prevent a stampede and keep all the plates from meeting and untimely demise on the floor we dished all the food up before letting the kids inside. As six of us went about this the hand washing bucket was carried out to the play yard, thus the time had come. We began to hear chanting and realized that we were in over our heads, the excitement for the meal and the surprise of the decorations was too much for them to wait any longer. We hurriedly put the last spoons on the table (everything here is served with spoons) and began to let the kids in four at a time to go find a place at one of the five tables. With eyes ever so wide the first dozen walked in scoping out the plates, knowing they had the best pick. Everyone had their own top priority, they wanted the larger pile of rice, the meat with the bone, the orange sucker topped cupcake, or the seat on the end (minimal elbowing!). Finally everyone was settled in and though Daralyne and Cindy Love were sure they could sneak a bite before prayer without anyone noticing they were caught red handed and everyone had to sit with arms folded to keep from being tempted. Prayer was said with such enthusiasm by all, I have no doubts they were thankful for what God had blessed each with this year, and especially for the special meal He had provided. It was one of the quietest Toddler House meals in my memory. Seven year old, Ermithe, holds the new record for turkey consumption, thanks to many children not being able to finish and sliding their portion over onto her plate. The smaller children conked out soon after lunch and slept soundly until woken up around 3pm. But there was no stopping our older 20 children, who were too excited to settle down and played games, made crafts, and chatted about Danksgivin until late that night. I am so blessed to be a part of the Toddler House family and all its inhabitants. If space permitted, I would love to list them all here, because to group them all together seems to diminish in some way the importance of each individual person that makes us this family. But I fear it would bore many or perhaps amuse them in trying to pronounce the rich Creole names that so many of our children possess. In any case I hope that if you will be encouraged to know that your prayers, your love, and your encouragement to us help to make this house a home and a family to these amazing children for the time however long or short that God blesses us with their presence here.