Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We wish you the merriest, the merriest!

Once again, Christmas has come and gone. It really sneaked up on me this year. I think school had something to do with that, since I was putting together a final project, paper and exam less than two weeks ago.

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the holiday movies. Every year, we seem to collect a new Christmas movie, which makes it increasingly harder to watch all the Christmas movies in our collection. For example, this year I did not get to watch one of my all-time favorite movies, A Charlie Brown Christmas. We own it, but with the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas and seeing family over the holiday, it didn't get watched. Neither did we get to watch A Christmas Story.

Watching Christmas movies that I've seen a million times may not seem that crucial. But let's look at this from another angle. As mentioned above, I got busy with school and the general hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas, which prevented me from watching some of my favorites, like Charlie Brown. Ironically, A Charlie Brown Christmas sends the message that Christmas has been over commercialized and people lose sight of the real meaning: the birth of Jesus Christ. Which is why I believe watching the movie before things get too crazy is a good thing.

I still have about four movies to watch. I think I'll try to fit them in before 2010. (Watching Christmas movies loses something if you watch them after New Years.) If not, a shot of Christmas spirit in April wouldn't be such a bad thing, right?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dancing Bears

Is it possible to love your pet too much?

I posed this question to Justin last night after a trip to Target resulted in a Halloween costume and a Christmas sweater for Kevin. I never thought I would be the kind of pet owner who dressed up their animal. Wait, I take that back. I dressed up bull frogs in doll clothes when I was little. But that was just for fun. Kevin in a sweater- well, that's just adorable. I'm not about to run out and buy little booties and a rain coat for Kevin. (But again, he'd be adorable.) He is an animal after all, and animals don't wear clothes.

But that poses the question: Aren't we animals? We wear clothes. And not always for practical purposes, like staying warm when it's cold. Clothing has become a statement about who you are, what you like, etc. I suppose we could make a case that Kevin is expressing his individuality by wearing a sweater with dancing bears, but I imagine people might have a problem with that. Just you wait until you get our Christmas card this year with Kevin in his little sweater! You'll see how cute he is and why we had to do it!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Oh, happy day!
Today's blog is about someone else's life: Lynde and Chad. They found out on Thursday that they finally get to pick up Vivine. Today, they left for Haiti and will come back as new parents of one seriously precious little girl.
Even though it's not about my life, per se, it's all I can think about today!

Congratulations, you two!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Suggestion Box

Now that the basement is 96% complete (just a couple of doors and some trim remain!), we need to start thinking about furnishing all this extra space. Our basement is now roughly divided into two large rooms: the room when you first come down the stairs (we'll call it room 1) and the room with the bathroom branching off (room 2). We quickly found a solution to room 2 by making it into a ping pong room. Unfortunately, that still leaves room 1.

Room 1 is rectangluar, with stairs on the west wall, opposite the french doors to the media room. The north wall has a large opening into the ping pong room. But otherwise, room 1 is a blank canvas. This room needs a purpose- but what is it? Reading room? Game room? Art gallery?

Because I'm at a loss, I am now taking suggestions for what we can do with a big empty room. Help!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Home Sweet Home

No, we're not moving to a new home.

Essentially, we've been making our existing house into a new home for the past year. Last year we gutted our kitchen and built it from the the ground up: new floor, cabinets, countertops, and appliances. Early this spring we starting working on finishing our basement from a drab concrete dungeon to a fabulous retreat. With the basement almost complete, we started doing some work upstairs. Because the main floor is open to the basement (previously there was a wall and door separating the two), we wanted the floor in the living room upstairs to match the floor in the basement. So the next project is tearing up the floor upstairs and put down new flooring.
In and of itself, this would not have been a huge job. The floor came up very easily (floating floor) and Justin had become an expert at laying the new flooring. But when my dad was over earlier this week to help with the floor, he mentioned that it was the perfect opportunity to put in a new fireplace.

Wait, what? you're asking

There are things called fireplace inserts, which are much more efficient than a standard fireplace. My dad had one that he thought would work in our existing fireplace, but wasn't positive it would fit. The fireplace would need to be disassembled and measured to be sure. So they did! And yesterday afternoon my dad, my Uncle Tim and Justin somehow hauled a 400 pound fireplace insert from Washington to our living room and got it to fit perfectly. That, with the new floor and some new furniture, will entirely turn our living room around. It's practically a new house!

We originally thought this would be a 5-7 year home. But with all the work we've put into it already (and we've only lived here 2 years) why move? We love it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Lately, I've felt like I can do it all: work full-time, go to school, finish our basement, play softball, do laundry, keep the house relatively clean and still have food on the table for dinner.
Unfortunately, stretching myself to this extent has also taken a toll on me physically. At some point last week, I started feeling the symptoms of a cold. And it sure has blossomed into a doozy. This morning I woke up with that "just been hit by a truck" feeling.
So it's times like these when I like to look on the bright side.

1. Justin and I celebrated our two-year anniversary yesterday. It's pretty hard to believe that two years ago we were just starting out. And look at us now!

2. The internet. Let's be honest- not only is the internet really cool, but without it, I would never have met Justin.

3. I still have a job that keeps me very busy during the day. And in this economy, with talk of layoffs at one of the strongest universities in the area, I'm very thankful to have a job at all.

4. Our basement is rockin'. Our initial goal was to be done in time for a Halloween party, and it looks like we might actually be ahead of schedule. Except for some doors, trim and carpet, my craft room is done. The two large rooms are fully painted (thanks to some great helpers this weekend) and the media room is on its way.

Overall, things are going great. We are truly blessed to have the resources for these endeavors. I just need to keep these things in mind over the next couple of days when I will be blowing my nose so much I'll look like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Basement Update

Quick update about our basement project.

Towards the beginning of August, we finished up all the framing, and Justin had completed wiring for electricity throughout. After these two huge steps, we quickly realized how much work it would be to drywall ourselves. We got some bids and decided paying a professional would be a good investment. Likewise with insulation. So the Friday before we left for Haiti, we brought in someone to do insulation. Huge transformation! The Tuesday after we returned from Haiti, the drywallers started their handiwork. After only two days of work, our basement was encased in beautiful, purple, moisture-proof drywall. I never thought I would want the basement to be entirely purple, but right now, it's my favorite color!
Taping, mudding and sanding continue next week, and before you know it, we'll be painting!

Maybe a shade of purple.....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Homesick Already

Justin and I returned to the states on Tuesday, and I'm already homesick for Haiti. This trip was special because it was the first visit since we started sponsoring one of the girls. As soon as we walked in the gate of the orphanage, Charlene and Patricelande came up to me for hugs. That was really neat. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

The first bunk bed assembled!

Patricelande and Charlene.

Justin tossing Charlene on the couch.

Helping Charlene and Patricelande put on jewelry
from our sponsor gift.

Vivine covered in birthday cake frosting,
though I'm quite sure she didn't eat any of it.

We had a great time. In fact, I'd say it was better the second time. A lot of the girls remembered us, so instead of the awkward "getting to know you" period of time we experienced last visit, we had girls climbing on us within a matter of hours. It was wonderful! Plus, my Creole is getting a little bit better, so communicating is easier. We purchased an Engligh/Creole dictionary while down there, so hopefully my vocabulary will go beyond "What?", "This?" and "Share" for the next trip.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Backyard Jungle

There has been a lot going on lately...
The basement work is going great- we finished framing last weekend, we will finish up electricity and cable this week, and we already scheduled the contractors to do insulation on Friday!
Justin and I attended a friend's wedding in Kansas City over the weekend. (Alas- this meant I had to miss a shower I had been planning for weeks!)
Kevin was tested on being Happy Tails materials- and he passed!
We've rescheduled our Haiti trip and have been ironing out the details of assembling 16 bunk beds in five days with only six people.

But this post is about something much more pressing: our neighbor's backyard.

Now, before I get too far along here, I want to make it quite clear that I think these neighbors are very nice. In fact, I owe them some of our basement motivation. They invited us over to see their basement a while back, and it is rocking! They've been friendly and generally welcoming. (And I genuinely feel kind of bad naming our dog Kevin.)

When we moved in two years ago, we immediately noticed their affection for outdoor play sets and toys. When we first moved in, they had a sandbox boat, little tikes picnic table, two plastic toddler climbers, a slide, and a large trampoline.

Last summer, they had a hard time keeping up with the mowing. They both work full-time, plus they have three kids (though I think the oldest lives with her boyfriend). I would have a hard time keeping up with the grass, too. But when the grass was knee-high, it was a little ridiculous. I can remember Justin putting the weed eater on the other side of the fence in order to get the weeds creeping through the chain links.

This summer, they've been really good about mowing the lawn. Unfortunately, new toys seem to be appearing. Earlier this summer, there was a really hot day where they pulled out an inflatable pool for their youngest to play in. But it didn't get deflated and put away. We now get to look at a sandbox boat, little tikes picnic table, two plastic toddler climbers, a slide, a large trampoline and an inflatable pool.

Two weekends ago, Justin and I were working in the basement when we heard Kevin start barking like crazy. I run upstairs to find the neighbors (with some help from other strong adults) moving in a large, wooden swing set with two forts, a slide and climbing wall. By itself, this is a very classy and nice addition to a backyard. I know I would have loved to have something like this as a child. But this makes eight things in their backyard: a sandbox boat, little tikes picnic table, two plastic toddler climbers, a slide, a large trampoline, an inflatable pool and a large swing set.

We thought this was getting ridiculous. I mean, I couldn't remember the last time one of their kids actually played with the climbers, the sandbox, or picnic table. Perhaps they were planning to get rid of some of the old toys in place of this new piece of equipment? But after two weeks, it was pretty obvious the old toys weren't going anywhere. Just when I thought things couldn't get any more congested in their backyard, we came home from KC on Sunday to find a new addition: a second large trampoline. Grass is officially nonexistent in their backyard. It has gone past the point of ridiculous. I am now just utterly impressed they are able to fit all of those toys in the backyard. In fact, I was so impressed, I took a picture.

You can just barely see the tip of the slide and the inflatable pool
behind the new trampoline!

Total count: nine. A sandbox boat, little tikes picnic table, two plastic toddler climbers, a slide, an inflatable pool, a large swing set, and two trampolines. And a partridge in a pear tree.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I should have woken up in Haiti this morning.
I should have woken up to the melodious sound of roosters crowing and dogs barking. I should have eaten breakfast spaghetti this morning. I should have been sweating from the extreme heat by 8:00 a.m.

But alas. It was not meant to be right now.

Justin and I were booked and ready to leave for another trip to Haiti. The trip was supposed to leave yesterday, June 30, and get back on July 7. Unfortunately, the trip got postponed due to political unrest in the country. Now, just to clarify, this would not have affected us or the orphanage. The riots were nowhere near the orphanage, and we would have been perfectly safe. However, the container we sent down in March (which has the bunk bed pieces we were to assemble on the trip) has been stuck at Customs due to the riots. Therefore, we wouldn't have anything to do until the container was released from Customs and unpacked at House of Hope. At this point, it looks like the trip will be postponed until some time in August.

When I told my work supervisor that there had been a change of plans in my vacation due to the situation in Haiti, the response I got was, "Well, I haven't heard about anything in the news." Sadly, that is too true. I did a Google news search for the situation in Haiti, and I only found two stories that even touched on the situation. One was about the death of a demonstrator at the funeral of Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, who was a supporter of former President Aristide. The other was about the democratic elections currently happening in Port-au-Prince. Neither really describes the turmoil happening in Haiti recently. Why is the world so oblivious? Why isn't this considered "newsworthy"?

I'm trying to look at this situation from a positive standpoint. Being at home this week means I get to enjoy a four-day week, three-day weekend. I get a reprieve from the sweltering heat that was in the area last week (which would have also existed in Haiti). I get to be in town for the 4th of July (though I hear the US Embassy puts on a pretty nice display near the orphanage). And now I can look forward to another trip a month or so away.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Birthday Surprises

I was out of town for much of the past weekend, which also happened to be the weekend before my birthday. This conveniently gave Justin the opportunity to not only go shopping for me, but to also produce some very large gifts in the house without my knowledge.

Present #1: 30 more feet of framing in the basement. And I didn't have to lift a finger! He completely framed the southern most walls that will house the ping-pong room, craft room and bathroom. While I was gallivanting around Colorado, he was sweating in the sawdust-ridden basement.

Present #2: A deep freezer! For those of you without a deep freezer let me just say this: it is a magical thing. As a kid, we had a super-size deep freezer in the basement. It was always filled with vegetables, pizzas, Popsicles and ice cream. Special sale at the grocery store on Breyers ice cream? No problem! Go ahead and buy five cartons- I now have somewhere to put them. Going to Sam's? Great! Let's stock up on frozen chicken!

Present #3: (Not quite as large as the others, but equally fantastic) A new digital camera! Not only is this camera far superior to my old 4.1 mega pixel Sony from 2005, it also has the capability to take HD video! We are going to have so many home movies of Kevin it's not even funny.

Present #4: Ice cream cake! This is where that deep freezer would have come in handy. (It's still in the box until the basement is done.) I do love me some ice cream cake. Especially on exponentially hot days like yesterday when the heat index is 110 degrees.

That husband of mine absolutely spoils me. And I love him all the more for it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

One Limb Short

I admit it. I'm usually not a girlie girl. I rarely wear make-up, and I'd rather spend my mornings eating breakfast than doing my hair. (After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!) Over the past couple of weeks, I got an itch to change my look. I hadn't gotten a real hair cut (Great Clips doesn't count) since I did Locks of Love in April 2008. I was due.

While I wanted a new look and wanted it to be drastic enough for people to notice, I was reluctant to significantly cut my hair or dye it. These being the most obvious of possible changes, I was left with only one option: find a new way to style my hair. The problem? I am a wash-and-go kind of girl. I wake up before 5:30 every morning to be ready for work. To implement a new hair routine in the morning would cut down on my sleep.

Oh, the things we women will do to look good...

Sonja, my stylist, made me look awesome, plus she made it look easy to do. "See? It only took me an extra 15 minutes to blow dry your hair!" Yes, but how long is it going to take me to do the same thing? She said I would get the hang of it. It just took some practice. The first time I tried to replicate the bouncing, flowing curls, it took me an extra 45 minutes to get ready for work. The second time took me even longer. I don't think I'm very coordinated. To hold the blow dryer in one hand and the brush in the other and have them move together at the same angle at the same time- it's exhausting! I bet having a third arm would help out tremendously in this situation. Instead of putting down the blow dryer every time I got the brush stuck in my hair, I could just untangle it and proceed as usual. I could also use my third arm to hold up a mirror behind me so that I could see the spots I missed. It would be so handy! (literally) But alas, I only have two arms, so it looks like I'm just going to have to get the hang of it the old fashioned way: practice.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

30 Feet of Wall

After completing the kitchen renovation last fall and seeing the transformation from 1980's to the 21st century, we got it into our heads to finish the basement. Currently, our basement is 1500 square feet of concrete. Mainly used as storage, the basement also houses my crafting area, workout area and a workbench for Justin. Because we didn't want the cost of an architect or contractor, the first step in finishing the basement was putting together a floor plan. (And after doing the kitchen by ourselves, we felt pretty confident in our remodeling capabilities.) Justin even put together a blog dedicated to tracking the basement progress. His blog hasn't been recently updated, so here's the latest news.

Wood has been delivered.
Nail gun has been purchased.
Thirty feet of framing has been erected along the longest wall.

Last night, we (meaning Justin) moved cables that were hanging down from the ceiling. Because we're planning to do a drywall ceiling on half of the basement, we need to make sure cable wiring won't get in the way.

The neatest part of the renovation is seeing it come together. Knowing that we are doing the hard work gives such a feeling of accomplishment. Obstacles are overcome. Problems are solved. And being our own contractors allow us to make changes as we go. Move a closet from one wall to another? No problem! A wet bar at the last minute? Sure!

We heard horror stories from family and friends about the duration of finishing a basement without contractors. Five years. Ten years. However, we have high hopes to get it done by Halloween, so we can hold another terrifyingly awesome party. That gives us five months to get everything done. Think we can do it? Stay tuned and find out!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Kicking Around Memories

I've been reminiscing about my childhood a lot lately. This was sparked by going to Incredible Pizza with our friends, Tara and Andy. Generally accepted as a kid's place, Incredible Pizza has the appeal of a Chuck E Cheese: food, games and winning tickets for cheap prizes. (Ironically, we went to Incredible Pizza to celebrate Tara and Andy's engagement. Congratulations, you two!) While I am clearly not a child anymore, it certainly is fun to take a step back and remember what it was like to be a kid.

One of the things I really miss is hanging out with the neighborhood kids. We were a small group: me, my sister, Bridget, Jason, Brian and occasionally Jennifer or Scott. On warm summer nights, we would gather at Brian and Jason's house to play Kick the Can or Hide-and-Seek in the dark. To fully prepare for one of these outings, we really had to plan ahead. Clothing had to be dark, preferably black with no writing. Tennis shoes were required. And it was best to play when there was a partial moon (to provide adequate light, but not too much). Being the youngest (and a girl) I was always chosen last for teams. But I didn't mind. I was just happy to be included. When we tired of running around in the dark, we would retire inside to play cards or a multi-day-long game of Monopoly. This went one for a couple of years before we outgrew each other; Jess, Brian and Bridget went off to college, and the rest of us got wrapped up in our own lives.

Growing up is inevitable. But it’s also exciting and liberating. My favorite things about being an adult (in no particular order): eating ice cream whenever I want, having sick and vacation days at work, the choice to go to bed late and sleep in, independence, having multiple kinds of friends (which seem so much more concrete than those I had when I was a kid), and choosing where to live, work, play, sleep and pray. At the same time, a little piece of me misses those summer evenings with the neighborhood kids.

(Anyone up for a game of Kick the Can?)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blessed Again!

The Hawkins gene pool is prone to boys, it turns out. On May 8, God blessed my bother and sister-in-law with a healthy baby boy. Caden John was born a few weeks early, weighing in at 6 pounds 3 oz, and 19 inches long. What a cutie! Everything went well, and mom and baby are doing great!

Another little boy for me to spoil? You bet! I'm going to sound like a oldie when I say this, but my goodness: They grow up so fast! I believe you should get in there while they're young and spoil them, get it out of your system, so when they get older and get more expensive tastes, maybe you won't feel so obligated to buy that Power Wheels Cadillac Escalade for $353.00.

Happy Birthday, Caden!

Monday, May 4, 2009

GMAT Status: Complete

GMAT complete!
On Saturday, I completed a big hurdle in pursuing my MBA: the Graduate Management Admissions Test (aka, GMAT). I started studying in March, and I probably should have allotted more study time than just two months. It's a big test. And despite the seemingly over the top security measures, I managed to stay focused for the duration.
Despite my very average scores, I let out a huge sigh of relief when leaving the GMAT testing building. It's over! Now the more important step of putting together an application begins. Thankfully, I don't think this step will be a two month process.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Hero

How many women can say their husband is their hero?
At least one: me!

Justin has been training for the marathon since October of last year. That's seven months of training! He was very strict with his running schedule, making sure he followed the official marathon training schedule. He somehow made time every Sunday for a long run (several hours, in some cases). Talk about discipline!
On Sunday, April 19, Justin ran in the Go! St. Louis marathon. It was terrible weather: rainy, cold, windy. He, along with 15,000 other participants, braved the wet weather anyway. I went along for moral support. Accompanying me were a bag filled with dry clothes, water, snacks and things to keep me busy during the run, the biggest umbrella I could find, and a camp chair. I was probably hauling an additional 30 pounds.
After a scary Metrolink ride, we arrived downtown in a mass of fellow runners. The ocean of people stretched for blocks in every direction, and the announcer soon called the runners to the starting line. Justin went to go stretch, and I took the opportunity to find a prime location to take pictures. Fortunately, the nasty weather kept many onlookers inside or under the shelter of nearby buildings. This allowed me to set up shop mere feet from the starting line.
And the runners were off! People streamed past the starting line for a good 15 minutes. The rain continued. I huddled under my giant umbrella. After all the participants had crossed the starting line, I met up with Justin's parents. Together we walked to the six mile mark to watch the runners pass by. Justin ran by, smiling and giving a thumbs up. Now it was time to wait. I knew it would probably be another two hours or so before he would be close to the finish line. The three of us wandered to the St. Louis Bread Company near the stadium to grab something to eat. (Their Cobblestones are fabulous.) After a leisurely snack, we packed up and walked back to where the race would be finishing. Already, almost 80 marathon runners had crossed the finish line! It wasn't even 10:00 a.m.! We wrestled our way to a good viewing spot close to the finish line. We waiting patiently, searching for a glimpse of a red baseball cap.
There! I saw him! It wasn't even half past 10:00 and there he was. I snapped a couple of action shots of him coming down the finish track. Final time, 3:19:57. Amazing!

He set his mind on something, and he did it. What a huge accomplishment to finish a marathon! My husband is my hero.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Soapfest Wrap-Up

Soapfest was a hit!

When we got back from Haiti, I wanted to do something tangible- something to get people involved. I threw my very own Soapfest to get my friends, family and co-workers involved. I was asked by my boss not to be pushy with people at work. Me? Pushy??
I behaved myself, and my Soapfest box in the office filled up several times. In fact, all the donations from work filled an 18-gallon tub! Additional donations from family and friends filled another two boxes, plus peanut butter and school supplies to boot! I brought all the supplies to Carole and Carl's home on Monday, only to find I miss it. The clean, cool smell of soap permeating my home, my office, my car. It was like an instant air freshener that also brought back warm memories of Haiti and House of Hope.
It's important to do things to help, but you can't forget why you're doing those things.
The hygiene kits being assembled from the collected items will be given to people in the community who can't afford those basic necessities. Can you imagine? I could easily go on a short rant about how lucky we are and how much we take for granted, but let's end on a positive note: Thank you to all who helped contribute to Soapfest- I could not have done it without you!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Stirring Up Old Memories

In high school, I considered myself proficient in math. I took advanced algebra, geometry, calculus and trigonometry. But don’t let anyone fool you into thinking math is like riding a bicycle. It’s not. After almost seven years of not using any of those skills (other than the occasional tip calculation), I remember nothing. Nothing! This wouldn’t be such a big deal- since I obviously don’t use those math skills everyday- except for the fact that I’m studying for the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test).

In high school, I actually enjoyed math. I know, call me crazy. But there’s something satisfying about solving for a defined answer. It’s not subjective. No matter how complicated or insane the problem may seem, you always want to get one predetermined answer. And it can’t be anything other than that predetermined answer. I remember having calculus tests with only five total questions. Tests that lasted the full class time: 90 minutes. Getting one of those answers felt like such an accomplishment.

With all these strange, almost sentimental, thoughts running through my head, I decided it would be good for me to clear the cobwebs in preparation for the GMAT. I figured I would remember basic algebra, making studying not quite so painful. Unfortunately, every time I open my study folder, a new problem stumps me; a new equation fuzzily surfaces in my brain that I have to rememorize. For example: the Quadratic Formula. I had completely forgotten this formula until Justin triggered my memory last night during study.

“Quadratic formula? That sounds familiar. It must have been one of those formulas I drilled into my memory because it was so important.”

But do I remember it seven years later? Heck no! I had to look it up on Wikipedia this morning!

Half-way through the GMAT math prep workbook. Three weeks until the big test. Looks like I have my work cut out for me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A House for Everyone

Has anyone else noticed that everyone and their cousins are buying houses? I sure have. My sister started looking at a condo about a month ago, and she put an offer in (that was accepted) a few days later. That same week, I found out that a woman I work with was in the process of buying a house. Then last week, I get a call from my friend Emily in Colorado who is in the process of buying a townhouse. All first time homebuyers. I guess that $8,000 is on a lot of minds lately. I know it would be for Justin and I. Perhaps we rushed into this house thing. Maybe we should have stayed in an apartment the first year and a half we were married. After all, houses are a lot of work. Especially our house, where we wanted to make renovations since the day we moved in.
But enough of that nonsense. Houses are great. I love our house and would not have wanted to be anywhere else the past year and a half. If we had not bought our house, we would not have had Kevin. We may not have become so involved at church. Therefore, we may never have traveled to Haiti.

I like to think we started the house-buying trend.

House, even though we had to gut the kitchen, want to finish the basement, and need new siding and windows, I think you're great. Thanks for putting a roof over our heads and changing our lives for the better.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sponsors At Last

It's amazing how good it makes you feel to give.
When Justin and I got back from Haiti, we decided to sponsor one of the girls at HOH. We had decided on Charlene because of many reasons: she was the first girl to really accept me, she has some great facial expressions, and she's super cute. I couldn't wait until we were officially sponsors so we could buy her gifts and clothes, send letters and pictures. A week went by after we contacted the director of the orphanage. Then another week. Then three weeks. Finally last night we got the information packet in the mail. It was like Christmas!
Along with sponsorship information and payment slips, the packet included a picture of Charlene and her story of how she came to HOH. Needless to say, it was a heart-wrenching story. Her parents were poisoned, and her aunt and uncle were the ones who brought her and her sister to the orphanage. Sister?! Christmas came again! Patricelande, one of the little girls at the orphanage, is Charlene's sister! Justin's parents expressed interest in sponsoring one of the girls, so naturally, we're going to recommend Patricelande. When we go down in July, we'll be able to bring gifts to both girls.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Friend for Kevin?

This morning started off like any other- I hit the snooze button three times before dragging myself out of bed, stayed in the shower for far too long, and had to physically push Kevin off the bed in order for him to wake up to go outside. (Yes, he sleeps on the bed now.) Once I let him outside, he starts barking. Not unusual. So I stick my head out the door and tell him to come inside.
More barking.
So I go outside in my fuzzy slippers with the spray bottle, prepared to scare him into coming inside.
More barking. (Please keep in mind it's 6:00 a.m. and the sun hasn't even come up. People are still sleeping, and I'm pretty sure a barking dog is going to aggravate the neighbors.)
As a last resort, I walk into the grass with the spray bottle, ready to give him a quick shot of water in the face. And then I see he's actually barking at something. (Those of you with dogs know man's best friend frequently barks at imaginary things.) There is something in the bushes of our neighbor's house. Probably a bunny. During the summer, they have a whole family of bunnies living in their kid's playhouse.
Not a bunny. I saw a bushy tail. A squirrel? The body looked too big for a squirrel. And suddenly I had all these visions of foxes and skunks. In an instant, I imagined what would happen if it were a skunk: Running to the house, Kevin barking his little head off, Kevin getting sprayed, me giving him a tomato juice bath with a clothespin on my nose... Turns out, it was nothing to be afraid of. The neighbors had gotten a puppy. It was hard to tell since it was still dark outside, but it looked like it could be a Siberian husky.
I woke up Justin to tell him the exciting news. His response: "I wonder if they named him 'Justin.'" For those of you unfamiliar with the background, the husband in the family behind our house is named Kevin. Unfortunately, we had already named our dog Kevin when we found this out. A little strange, but we thought it was hilarious. Not sure how our neighbor's feel about it...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Left My Heart In Haiti

We're home! Ok, so technically, we got home two weeks ago. I've been busy! I knew traveling to Haiti would have an effect on me, but I didn't think it would consume me once I returned. Justin and I are addicted.

So let's back up. The trip was amazing. We had great weather; got projects done quickly and still had time to bond with the girls. Here are some pictures of our trip:

While we were there, two big events occurred. The groundbreaking for the new medical clinic occurred on Saturday, and the foundation was poured (by hand!) for Patti's school on Wednesday.

On one of the days, we got the opportunity to take a trip up the mountain to the Baptist Mission. We got to ride through the "upscale" area, look out over all of Port-au-Prince, and got to eat extraordinarily green "ice cream".

Despite the fear of tarantulas and the constant bite of mosquitoes, we loved it. When we returned home, I couldn't get Haiti out of my mind. Why couldn't we bring all the girls home with us? Why couldn't we do more to help the community? Why doesn't everybody know what's going on in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere? So we decided to move forward. We're going to sponsor one of the girls at the orphanage. I'm continuing Lynde's great example by holding my own Soapfest. We're helping build/paint the bunk beds at church. And, last but not least, we're going back! The moment we stepped on US soil, we were ready to turn around and go back, but yesterday, we made it official. We're going in July to help assemble the bunk beds at HOH!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Working Vacation

The past two months have gone by in a flash. The holidays few by, I've been incredibly busy at work, and I volunteered to help with a large project at church in my off hours. It's hard to believe it's the middle of February already. Where did the last two months go? I think it's time to slow down and take a much-needed vacation. Thank goodness we have one planned for next week.

Pastor Chad sent out an email to a couple church members back in early January regarding an upcoming mission trip. I've always felt compelled to share our blessings with others, and recently, I felt like we just weren't doing enough. Hearing stories from people who have spent a year in Nicaragua or a semester in Honduras sparked something in me. They came back changed- more mature, more worldly. I didn't feel as though I could pick up and move my life for several months to a year, so that got pushed to the back of my mind for a while. Thankfully, PC changed those plans on January 5. Justin and I decided to go to Haiti for a week long mission trip.

Emotions I've experienced since saying yes: nervous, elated, scared (there are tarantulas and 6 inch long cockroaches down there!), proud, excited and impatient. Now, a week before we leave, I'm finally ready. We purchased our DEET and toilet paper, gathered together our sheets and towels, and stocked up on batteries for my camera. I just need to work on my Creole a bit before we leave, and I'll be ready to go.