Monday, December 31

I'm calling it a year!


Many things define a year. There is much to reflect upon and MUCH to be thankful for. When we look back upon 2007 we will certainly remember the excitement and chaos as two baby girls were added to our family. We'll remember being pregnant in the hottest place on earth. (no research backs up that claim) We'll think of it as a year of huge change. We'll remember it as a year of growth and challenge. The year we got wrinkles.


There were so many amazing things we were blessed to witness, and so many incredible people we were honored to meet. Some of you were among them.

We wish for you a spectacular 2008 filled with God's abundant blessings. May it be a year of many God-sized surprises!

2007 in blog review ...
January:

February:
We learned we were pregnant. In total shock, we laughed and cried and questioned whether or not God knew what He was doing?? Although we waited to share the news, the reaction was evident in the blog posts that followed.

March:
Britt and Noah celebrate birthdays. Desperate for a break, a chance to sit with the news of the pregnancy for a bit, and just breathe- Mom and Dad send us to the D.R. for a week. We fly on an airline that no longer operates - and we know why.

April:
Britt, Paige and Tara came to the USA for a quick college-road-trip. We visit friends/family in IL, IA, IN and NE. Troy proved his fathering prowess by handling four children on his own for two weeks.

May:
A month packed full of stories. The Formula Program is born. Paige jumps in to take over the job. We meet people who change us with their will to live and their courage. I struggle with adoption fears. Britt sees a crazy month of medical stories/cases.

June:
Grandma Porter unexpectedly calls it quits. We fondly recall all she meant to our family. God blessed us when He made her our grandma.

July:
Troy's funeral adventure, along with baby Marcius and Mme Pierre's broken femur make for a full month. This also becomes the month of the rat.

August:
Tara, Kids and Nut Dog leave for USA. We drive across the USA and prepare for baby to arrive. Troy and Phoebe remain in Haiti - they bond. Phoebe learns to walk. A visa is granted for Phoebe to return to MN with Troy.

September:
Family divides for the month. Troy and Phoebe join the rest in MN late month. Troy goes to the hospital for his latest crazy illness. Isaac turns 6.

October:
Lydia Beth Livesay enters the world. Troy fights various skin disorders and Staph infection. Troy travels to Michigan. Britt chooses Baylor University. No one sleeps.

November:
Britt graduates. Celebrate 9 years of marriage. Travel to Nevada. Travel to Texas.
Paige turns 13. Phoebe turns 1.

December:
Travel to Iowa. Hope turns 6. We Plan, dream and scheme about 2008.


Happy New Year Everyone!

Friday, December 28

Not whining, just sharing


I keep waiting for my head to crack open from the pressure build up. I stopped just short of dialing 911. The whining I might have done yesterday would have been born of a reduced ability to cope --- due to illness.
Our adoption dossier has gone to Chicago. We've been racing the clock. Yesterday was insanely stressful trying to fix a mistake or two and get it on its way. Again, coping mechanisms- not at their strongest.

We're working hard to leave the house looking like a place that people will fight to buy or rent. So far nobody is fighting, but it is bound to happen soon. I plan to be here when the first fist fight breaks out in the front yard. There has been a lot of juggling furniture, moving things around, and trying to do minor repairs. If Noah would stop trying to climb walls by using towel bars the repairs would greatly decrease in number. The reasons to live in Haiti are many, but recently we've come to recognize the value of cement walls and tile floors as well. Kids destroy houses. All cement construction may not be lovely, but it is sturdy.

The storage locker is close to full so the furniture all needs to be spoken for later on - or sold now. We did not understand the value of having rented it fully furnished in late 2005. We saved on a TON of work when we moved to Haiti two years ago. A ton.

When we moved in January of 2006 every single little thing fell into place, there was absolutely no doubting that we were headed where God had called. This time around things are not so neat and tidy, it is requiring more faith than it did last time. (I am finding that more faith is not necessarily an easy thing for me.)

On the phone with my Uncle yesterday, I whined that it was confusing to have the funds all but in place to live/serve in Haiti ---- but not have the house or truck sold. I basically expect it all to fall into place like it did two years ago.

He pointed out that we're not really supposed to gauge things by circumstances. Sometimes we need to move forward in faith without the guarantees and without everything all tied up in a nice package. The illustration he used was good. He pointed out that God asked Noah to build an ark without any sign of rain. It took years and years and Noah kept moving forward even though the drought continued. People thought it was SO dumb and that Noah was either stupid or crazy. Of course eventually it did rain, which was nice vindication for Noah ... BUT, in some cases God could ask you to do something without ever providing a nice ending to the story.

We're not sure if the house stuff will work itself out. We only know that we are to return to Haiti at this time and wait on His further direction. If the truck sells, it buys us five house payments. If the house sells, it really does not matter if the truck does. If neither sell (or rent) we will be seeking God and asking for clarification on His plan. I for one like to believe that God is not asking us to enter into a foreclosure, He seems much more responsible than that. Even God must like a good credit score. ?

As scary or stupid as it is, we are moving forward to return the entire tribe to Haiti (sans Britt) in the next few days and weeks. It is certainly nothing as scary as building a huge stinking boat during a 100 year drought! We'll get through it.

In the midst of moving all these possessions around (while managing an exorbitant number of children)and fixing things, our truck not only ran out of gas ... It decided to break-down all together. Last night after 22 hours on the side of the highway, a friend from church towed it to his garage to try and replace the fuel pump - our first guess at what is wrong with it. The value of this vehicle is only increasing as original 1999 parts are updated and replaced. Get it while its hot folks. :/

The news from Haiti is not so encouraging either. Apparently there is a money shortage. According to the sources that typically cash our checks to provide us with Haitian Dollars to run the mission, a bunch of old money was taken out of rotation and destroyed but no new money is available yet. Not much forethought there - considering we're talking about an all cash society. Lesson learned: Don't throw away the pot you're peeing in until you have a new pot. Duh people! Troy is trying to figure out how to get his hands on money to be able to pay the employees when he arrives. So far, no solution. He is hoping they're not planning to run him out of town if the news continues to be bad. He leaves Minneapolis with Phoebe early on New Year's Day.

The dog situation came to a point of no return on Christmas Day. My entire family was
together and as we talked through the limited options it became clear that Dad and Mom were on the hook and were our only hope for Peanut to be able to return to Haiti in January. Dad and Peanut are long-time buddies. Which for Peanut, became incredibly important to her very future. Sometimes relationships are what save your butt. :) (Relationship relationship relationship - this is every smart dog's mantra.)

They were already loaded down with all of Britt's stuff for Baylor but they made room for one extra little thing; an 100 pound dog. They are going to their house near the very Southern tip of TX for a few weeks, for the short-term they have a new pet. The reports about the road trip were all good. As a road-trip dog Peanut has not disappointed us, her reputation precedes her.

Dad will drive the dog back up to us in Waco on the 9th. We found a hotel that will let us have her. Britt has her orientation weekend the 10th - 13th. Lydie and I will leave Waco and go fly out of Dallas with the dog on January 14. Sounds simple, does it not? I still don't know exactly how to handle a rental car, a huge dog, a small baby, and huge luggage ... but that is just details.
:)

The beginning of the goodbyes have come and gone. I hate goodbyes. The hard part is not having a plan to see loved ones. My Mom and Dad said goodbye to Troy and the kids without knowing if or when they'll come down to Haiti next. Even if the visit is a year or more away ... For me it is easier to say goodbye knowing there is a plan (any plan!) No plan to see each other causes the goodbye to sting a little bit more.

In reality the looming goodbye with Britt is the one that stings the most. Troy and the kids won't see her for 7 months, I will see her sooner but I still hate the feeling of leaving her. It is one thing to leave the state, but leaving the country that my baby is in feels terribly uncomfortable and just plain wrong. I need to get over it; I know that. I cannot keep her a baby and I cannot keep her near me forever ... I DO KNOW this. The idea is to send them off ... I just liked it better when it was an idea and not a reality.
Well, I better go. It is time to ring the bell and watch Troy come running with a bowl of hot soup.

More


The last 48 hours had plenty to offer. Most of it challenging.
`
The truth is, we're beat and struggling to keep our eyes off of the circumstances. Nobody hates a whiner worse than me, which is why until I can post without a whining tone -I won't post.
`
The photo is of my Dad and I on Christmas day. We had a really fun day. He is currently driving with a large dog across the entire United States. Last I heard they were smuggling her into a Marriott in the middle of Texas somewhere. She loves a good continental breakfast. Now *that* is love. Thank you Mom and Dad.
`
Peanut has seen more of America than most Americans at this point. And it appears she will see Haiti again in a couple of weeks.
`
More from here when attitude and time allow ... thanks for your prayers for all that must happen as we close in on our return to Haiti. We want to stay the course despite the circumstances, prayers are invaluable. We really appreciate each of you.

Thursday, December 27

Author Unknown - Risk

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk to failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live. Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

TIP: Get gas when your vehicle suggests it is near empty

If it were not for sheer and utter exhaustion I would tell you all about:

  • Our fun Christmas Day
  • The beginning of the goodbyes that started yesterday
  • The running out of gas on a cold night with a baby in a tow (ggggrrrrrrr)
  • The eight million places we drove today to pick up and drop off furniture
  • The Suburban that is still for sale (gas gauge is working properly- we're sure of it now)
  • The developments in Peanut's future
  • The way Lydia went back from her four hour stretches of night sleep to something much closer to three hours, but not quite three - resulting in my having a mucus-filled head (not quite a MAN cold -- but close)
  • The problems yet unsolved

It has to wait. Because rest must occur first.

Monday, December 24

Merry Christmas 2007

video

This didn't exactly go as planned...maybe next year.

Have a blessed and peaceful Christmas celebration.

With love,

The Livesays

Sunday, December 23

Forget Craig ... this is Troy's List

For Sale: (must be able to pick up by mid January) All prices negotiable
Very Long Blue/Red Plaid couch with ottomans - $275
Red Leather BarcaLounger Chair (matches couch) - $275
Two tables - one end table, one long/taller behind the couch table $130
Green couch and matching floral chair - $300 for both or $260 and $40
Rolltop Desk - $80

oldest/youngest - first/last - the start/the finish


Posted by Picasa

Dec. 24th B-day girl ... party photos



Saturday, December 22

recent photos




Posted by Picasa

Birthday Girl, Dingos, and Santa

We're allowing the sales-people ..... er, uh ... I mean KIDS, to come home from their assigned corners to celebrate Hope's 6th birthday ... it seemed like the right thing to do. At the 48 hour mark they were starting to get tired of carrying the heavy signage anyway.

Hope turns 6 on Christmas Eve but we're having her party today. Noah has already begun to cry, whine, pout and act generally jerky in protest that it is Hope's birthday, but not his. Same routine, different year. Sometime soon he should consider changing it up a bit.
Party photos will be forthcoming.

~~~~~~~~~~
Someone just wrote me to tell me that I don't respect Haitians because I don't like Haitian dogs. That is quite a stretch, they were not kidding though. I loooooove people with no sense of humor. I really, really do. Apparently the post long, long ago where we called them "dingos" was highly offensive. I guess I am not allowed to dislike ugly dogs. Not here, not there, not anywhere. It's good to know, no matter what the topic ... there will be someone out there ready and willing to be put-off by what I write.

~~~~~~~~~~~

We took our kids out for a parade tonight. It is this all lights parade - a MN holiday tradition. It was challenging. Lydia slept the entire time, which helped a lot. I'm not sure what possessed us to try it. I think it is the pressure of knowing that we did none of the cheesy, canned, meaningless holiday stuff last year and we'll do none of it next year. Sooo, we should try to do all of it this year. Logical? (That is a rhetorical question by the way.)

The THIRD attempt to see Santa finally produced a Santa that would see children. I thought Troy was going to go all 'Clark Griswold' on the 2nd Santa. (Think 1983 - Vacation movie ... Clark's reaction when Wally World was closed.)

The first attempt to find Santa was an hour wait, and waiting meant missing the parade. We bailed 15 minutes into the hour wait. The parade was fun. Everyone liked it, the temps were warm for MN in December. So far, expectations of family fun were being exceeded.

After the parade we rushed to try to get to see the fat man himself before the stores closed. The second attempt was at another location entirely. Mr. Claus is kind of high on himself in the suburbs of Minneapolis. APPOINTMENTS are made to see stinking Santa Claus! When we got there he had no appointments left for the evening. I walked up to the table and said "HI - these kids are here to talk to Santa." The little helper person said, "Did your pager go off?" Then she proceeded to fill me in on standard operating procedure in 2007 and the way the things work now when it comes to the man from the North Pole. Silly me, the world has moved on without me. I considered begging, but I saw no mercy in her eyes.

Pretty soon you'll have to know someone who knows Santa in order to get to him. If your aunt did not date his brother back in High School, you can just forget about it. I suppose by next year we'll just be expected to talk to one of his helpers on-line and call it good.

By appointment only Santa.

Please.

We'd been dragging kids around creating beautiful and lasting America memories for hours at that point. The news fell on me awfully hard. Crestfallen is the word that comes to mind. I turned to share the situation-at-hand with my dear husband.

Troy took on that look he takes on occasionally. It is not often that he loses it, but when he does- he does it up big. I said, "It does no good to go ballistic." Although, in that moment after parking and dragging that many kids into the center of the second mall in one day I felt pretty violent myself. (If I feel violent towards Santa's helpers - that might offend Rudolph or even Mrs. Claus. It's expected that even ridiculous topics bring controversy. Maybe it's safe, perhaps they are too busy to be reading this. ) As a precautionary measure ...

Dear Mrs. Claus,
If you are reading this ... I don't like Haitian dogs. I thought the employees that your husband hired this year were really very below average, the new POLICY is lame too -- but I still think your husband is a good man at heart. No need to email me and tell me how terrible and ignorant I am. And also, when I write a blog, I exaggerate occasionally for the sake of humor. I enjoy sarcasm too. I would never actually become physically violent with any of your elves. Statements like that; it's what we call "creative license." When you next speak with your husband let him know I do not want a Haitian Dingo puppy for Christmas, but - if he wants to let Peanut ride back to Haiti in his sleigh, that would be quite alright. He might also consider adding to his off-season fleet by purchasing a 1999 Chevrolet Suburban.
Be well Mrs. Claus.

At that point it was a game, a competition - Santa was taunting us and we were not planning on losing. We would NOT be going home without seeing the man in red. Troy threw his head back and laughed his crazy evil laugh and told the kids, "We are GOING to Find Santa and it is GOING to be fun." ;)

The third mall had a Santa, no waiting, no appointment required. Troy was relieved from his building anger and Noah, Hope, and Isaac were pleased. They ran up and chatted with Santa a bit, gave him multiple Transformer requests, then sang him all of "Santa Clause is Coming to Town." We could tell kids don't often sing to Santa, he seemed to be entertained and amused.

Unfortunately by the time we were done with Santa, Noah was very tired and could not follow the words to the song ... he both pouted and cried the entire way home.

*Those* are the kind of memories we like to drag all around town to make. Good Times.

Thank the Lord above none of this (above) is what Christmas is all about. Christ Jesus came to us as a baby, died for us as a young man, rose again and will return one day.

There is no need to chase around town to find Him. We need no appointment to speak to Him. He loves us and is merciful towards us whether we're naughty or nice.

Wednesday, December 19

Christmas Sale

An EXCELLENT Christmas gift for you spouse...
1999 Chev. Suburban - Good Condition - 134,000 miles
Ignore the previous remarks about large volumes of gas and ground-in french-fries. That was silly nonsense. You are looking at a bargain here people.

(Color is Pewter. Actual price is $7,500)

Time in America is running out, because of that, at this very moment each of our children are on various street corners around town acting as human-advertising, wearing their sandwich board signage. We will be focusing all of our parental energy on rotating around to their multiple posts to feed them high-calorie snacks for energy and give them short breaks to warm-up in the truck. Time once spent blogging is now being spent hydrating the sales-people. Please, Internet friends ... bring these children in out of the cold. Buy a Suburban today.

weird photo - weird kid



Britt received a camera for graduation, here she practices using an odd angle to photograph her odd brother.
`
Here he is transforming into a ladies man. Transforming is the number one topic of conversation in our lives right now. On the way home from Iowa we actually had to request a break from talking about Transformers. Think of any bizarre question about them, it has been asked and asked and aaaassskkked. Transformers are the bane of my existence.
`
American materialism is alive and well in this family. Advertising works - it all seems to be aimed at my 6 year old. The boy told my friend the other day; "Everything I see, I want - and everyplace there is to go, I want to go."
`
At least he's honest. (?) Should I be comforted by this?
`
Haiti looks better all the time.
`
No toy-stores. No commercials. Hopefully no Transformers.

Tuesday, December 18

Sisterly Love

Phoebe has not been pictured on the blog in awhile. Her hair has looked bad a lot lately so we're just looking out for her ego. Yes, I know that I could learn to deal with her hair better ... but she HATES having it messed with -- and I HATE making her cry, therefore she usually needs hair help.

Most days we're really proud if everyone is clothed and fed and received some sort of individual attention from at least a portion of the parental-unit. Hair is not a priority during this season of life. Not for me, not for Phoebe. One day we will all look put-together again ... one day soon I hope. I think the girls look less alike then they used to, but I still see it in their eyes.
I think Britt just called everything I say "fluff."
:-)

I love that kid, even if she is far too serious for her age.

This "fluff" is gonna provide the idea that gets your dog back to Haiti chicky-poo.

The Cost of Life

By Britt:

My mom asked me to post. So I am posting. I am bored with my own circumstances, or rather consider them un-blog-worthy. I would much prefer to fill my post with real issues and pressing needs than share about my own fluff. I guess that's just where I am right now. As I look forward to heading off to school at Baylor, I am reminded of why I am going to school, why I want to pursue a career in the medical field, and why I am so so blessed.
`
A friend of mine forwarded me this link. (Read on before you click link) It is a link to a youth game on UNICEF's website. I remember playing both Oregon and Amazon Trail as a younger child and found them both to be fun and addicting. Any other trail blazers? I especially liked the part on Oregon Trail where you got to go shoot bear and likewise for harpooning fish in the Amazon River. (I've never been big on real life hunting or fishing, just the kind where you always catch something, albeit electronically) The game that the above link links to is a little different than those two, similar in style, but less fun and more challenging. Less fun because of the reality of the situation - not a game at all.
`

In the game, you are given a Haitian family of five and presented with the task of keeping the family afloat (healthy, happy, educated ... alive.) The game is divided into four years or sixteen "seasons." These include the rainy season, the dry season, the hurricane season, etc. At the end of year two, I am already 1470 gourdes in debt. I've played several times now and still have not managed to get past year two while keeping the parents alive (if the parents die the game is over because the kids are presumably farmed off to different family members and in worse conditions than before you went and played with their family and killed their parents. humph.) I've had to remove them from hospitals, stopping treatment of listed diseases like diphtheria and malaria, because of a lack of funds. I've chosen to send the sons in the family to work in the fields of the family farm, rather than send them to school. The father of the family is at home resting, since he is too weak to work but they are too poor to seek medical treatment. As for the mother and daughter, I've been rotating them between going to school, running out of money and being forced to send them to work in the fields, being too ill to work in the fields, sending them to the hospital, running out of money again and not being able to treat them, and sending them back home to rest.
`
This game saddens me, but intrigues me. Not because it is new knowledge, but because it is presented in a new crafty way. I like most things about the game - because I see privileged American children like myself becoming frustrated with losing the game because they have run out of money to treat the ailing family members and the family members have died. It is frustrating to the player, but it is not real. It's just a game that we play sitting with our full bellies in our heated (or air-conditioned) homes. Some kids will angrily 'x' out the window and go on to less challenging video games while others will pause and actually learn something. This game is about people in a very real country just a few hundred miles from American shoreline. The game's challenges are happening to very real people every day of their lives - without the option to just quit and move on to something less challenging.
`
While I find some things a little unrealistic about the game, like the distance from the family's home to the hospital (much too close in proximity) or the job opportunities (yes multiple, that is if the family member has the proper education ... which also seems unlikely) ... I think it is eye-opening and very appropriate for kids (and adults), especially around the Christmas [presents] season. Because let's face it, the majority of American kids, Christian or not, are more worried about what's under the tree than what's in the manger. Even for me, having lived in Haiti, this game puts me back in my place as I shamefully fall back into the American traps of impatience and non-gratitude.
`
I encourage and challenge you to play this game yourself and share it with your kids. Remember, as you 'play,' those that endure this 'game' daily - pray for them and please consider giving to organizations that partner with them. We have so much. This game is an awesome, raw reminder of that.
`
~Britt (Who will eventually post what her mom wanted her to post: updates on my thoughts as I tearfully but optimistically move away from the the Haiti portion of the family, onto new undertakings in just 22 short days.)
`
P.S. -- Thanks to K. Fulton for passing this on!

Monday, December 17


a dog story

A short story about a large dog named Peanut ...

Once upon a time a 17 year old girl worked with amazing skill and determinatin to convince two emotionally weak parents that dog should travel 2,700 miles in order to spend a few extra months with her. The parents undoubtedly have serious issues using logic because they agreed.

The Dog flew on little cargo plane to America. Land of the free. Home of the brave. Dog rented mini-van and was escorted in luxury Dodge Caravan from Fort Lauderdale to Minneapolis. Dog had no idea the lengths family had gone to in order to show her America.

The dog was really too large for the space that she needed to live in. The family felt stressed by her very existence at times. The 17 year old worked and swam on a swim team a lot so the dog was depressed and sullen. The dog made messes and acted out a time or two. The 17 year old girl was glad she had her dog in America. The parents were not. The dog seemed confused and uncertain.

Fast forward a few months. The dog is preparing to part ways with her 17 year old owner. The 17year old needs to go to college. The dog does not understand it all, but she tries to makes sense of it.

Dog and owner will go their own ways come January 9. A new day is dawning. Dog is receiving grief counseling but preparing well for a future without beloved 17 year old.

The parents who were suckered begin to plan to return dog 2700 miles southeast. Parents would like dog to go back to Haiti with the first person returning. Parents learn that dog will not be allowed to fly even with Vet note unless it is 20 degrees. This is new information to them. Dog is supposed to leave THE COLDEST CITY IN AMERICA AT 6AM IN JANUARY.

January 1 to be exact.

A simple Google search reveals that the average HIGH temp in Jan in MN is 20 degrees. Average low 2 degrees. Chances of dog getting on airplane -- NIL. ZERO. NADA. ZILCH.

Dog must find a new home.

Kidding.
Not an option.
Remember: Emotionally weak parents. Love. the. dog. Love. the. 17 year old.
Cannot give dog away.

What now?
Parents do not know. 17 year old does not know. No one knows. Ideas anyone?

The End.

Sunday, December 16

Plans or not

Appelez-moi s'il vous plait?
Merci!

This is the text message that we get ... oh, say .... 25 times a week. The only problem is, if it is Peter, we want to call and check on things. If it is Paige's little buddies ... not so much. The calls to Haiti are adding up so we're keeping the chit chat variety to a minimum these days.

Drama number two started late last week in LaDigue. Calls were made, stress was high, Troy did not allow his head to explode trying to talk through it ... a plus for all of us. He had PLANNED and provided a solution to an issue for his entire three month furlough ... and of course - that plan was not the one anyone adhered to. A very important medicine is now gone and that is causing issues for one poor mentally-ill lady in the village. This is a tough problem to solve from Minnesota. Planning is just so wasted sometimes. I heard someone say - in Haiti, the saying is "CHANGE, subject to plan." Not many things could explain Haiti better than that. Just when you think you've thought through every angle, every possible road-block, every feasible problem ... smack, you learn you're not nearly as smart as you thought you were.

We're loving being here in MN at Christmas time ... it feels wonderful to know that we'll do the traditional things this year. At the same time, we're all getting excited to go back. We're ready. Tess is excited too. Thank God she is coming to help. He provided such a sweet girl at just the right time!

We are done Christmas shopping. WOOT. We intentionally kept it light. I don't know how many hours I stood staring at the Transformers in Wal-Mart, Target or the Toy Store, but it had to be approaching a half of a day. Today we got the big girls the last little thing to even everyone out. Lydia and Phoebe are getting ripped because they do not know the difference. That's the way we roll. "STUFF" was already staring us in the face ... and we were feeling confused dealing with what we already had, no need to add a bunch of junk to that sorting job.

As we are downsizing, selling, and giving things away - We are coming across a few items that might be of interest to someone out there in the blogosphere.
  • A Bianchi Mountain Bike - was originally $1,000 - selling for $325 b/o
  • A Suburban complete with ground in french fries - $7,500 b/o (we will clean out the french fries if you've got a potato allergy)
  • Ancient cross country and down hill ski equipment - make offer

Have a good night!

Saturday, December 15

One Week Food Around The World

*Disclaimer* - I got this in an email. As far as I can tell by researching it, this comes from a book called Hungry Planet. It is kind of interesting. These are supposed to be samples of an average family and how much money is spent in one week on food. It is in U.S. Dollars. I did not load every photo. The book appears to have many more countries included.

Germany-The Melander Family - $500.07

United States- Revis Family $341.98
Japan - 317.00

Italy - Manzo Family $260.10

Mexico 189.09
Poland 151.00

Egypt - $68.53
Ecuador $31.55
Bhutan $5.03
Chad $1.23

Garbage Removal - or not

Troy called the garbage company that serves the area of our Zimm. home. He told them that for a few weeks we would be here and that while we were here we wanted to arrange garbage removal. He told them to cancel it in January when the house would be vacant.

The lady put him on hold for a while. When she came back she said, "Okay sir. We don't usually do this, but because you were a good customer and so was your renter, we will do it this time."

What in the world is that? They come down the street anyway. They don't usually want to take money from paying customers?

Weird.

Friday, December 14

Bedtime Stories

Today if something could go wrong,
It.
DID.
Go.
Wrong.

I have to say that all in all; we rose above it. We laughed deliriously in the face of adversity. At one point we were so delirious that Troy was driving and he said, in all seriousness, "Wait. where are we and where are we going?" Yes, for a moment he very literally had no idea where he was headed... such is life right now.

Because of a one vehicle situation, my parents agreed to come get me at 6am to bring me to St. Paul. They also needed to be in the capitol city at the same time It was a well thought out plan, it made sense. Troy planned to wake up, get the kids situated then keep loading things up to move out of here. I woke up at 5am, got myself and Lyd ready and Dad showed up at 6:15. If you knew how many things have gone wrong getting the dossier together, this story would have greater impact ... no time for that tonight - besides, it is soooo boring. Suffice it to say, adoption paperwork is kicking our butts.

I may have adopted in 2002, but that was a lifetime ago ... A time when I had two kids and full brain function. This time around adoption has been like a mean next door neighbor kid that taunts and tricks. Just when we think we've made peace with the kid, BAM he pulls another fast one on us.

As we got closer to St. Paul and the sun came up, I began to review the documents that would be authenticated. It instantly became clear that at least one and probably more of the notarized documents were missing. I began to cry. My dad made some smart remark, something like, "Wow I was with you for an hour and a half before you cried." He's a real sensitive guy that Dad of mine.

I called Troy and asked him to go from Zimmerman (the house we own and live in until we go back to Haiti) to Ham Lake (the house we lived in for three months also Matt and Tina's home) to PLEASE GET THE STUPID DOCUMENTS SO I CAN FINALLY BE DONE WITH THIS TASK. (You'll recall I am motivated by the satisfaction of a task finished.) Troy was equally bummed. It meant I would sit with Lyd at the SOS office for hours and he would drive for hours. Lame. Not a wise use of time. Not what we had in mind. Once again adoption kicks our butt.

Dad and Mom dropped me off to go onto their own task. After clarifying the fees and the options with the lady at the information desk, I took Lyd to change her. As I washed my hands, I looked at myself in the mirror to see big black lines streaked down my face. I blame this on Paige and Uncle Rick. I had to borrow Paige's mascara. I did not know she does not use a waterproof product. Rick did not know the dire need I have for a quality, tear-proof mascara at this time of my life. He send my toiletry bag from Iowa regular mail. It has not arrived yet. I was loaned an inferior eye-lash enhancing product. That information lady talked to me with huge black streaks on my face and did not tell me. Wonderful.

I settled in for some quality time with Lydia and a 2006 issue of US Magazine. Lyd pooped incredibly loud in an explosive, leave the diaper - head up the back -type manner in the office of the Secretary of State. No respect for the office of Mark Ritchie. Once the outfit was changed and she looked good once again she puked curdled milk. Because I am brand new to this baby raising thing and have not a clue how to pack a diaper bag, she was forced to sit in the stench. For hours. As we waited. Because we have lots of time to sit idle.

Nothing. But. Time.

When Troy walked in with aforementioned missing documents I felt the end of this major step drawing near and sighed a deep, loud sigh of relief. Victory. Was. Mine. If only for a brief moment of time. I will get up at 5am and sit in an office building wasting precious time with a stinky baby ANY DAY if it eventually equals the kind of satisfaction I felt when walking out of there.

Many moons later we got back to Zimmerman. Troy pretended it was 8am again and started loading things. He wore one of the renters sweatshirts just to join in on the fun. A Harley Davidson sweatshirt to be exact. That women best come get her crap out of this house. Troy will kill me when he reads I told you that. If I turn up missing, please report him and check the bottom of the lake.

I am chipper tonight. Two things that had been stressing me and causing ridiculous volumes of worry have been resolved. It is not the Suburban or the house though, sooooo ... good news for you! They're both still available. May the best man win. Open bidding begins now.

There is more to the story of today, more bridges to cross and troubles to solve. I will save that for another day. It is time to cuddle and rest.

The many moods of Noah L.


8 seconds later ... There is no explanation - not for Santa, not for us.

Thursday, December 13

Self Examination

This furlough has been difficult. I have been in dark and truly confusing places at times. I joke around and find ways to laugh but the truth is I have many things that weigh heavily on me right now. My faith is not very big today. I don't love what I learn about myself in times like this. I really don't. In tough times our short-comings are exposed. My shortcomings are more evident to me lately. I'm not trying to be cryptic or freak you out ... really. I just want to keep myself from hiding. Nothing like using the Internet to out yourself.

This C.S. Lewis quote really makes me think.

Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light. (From Mere Christianity)

Maybe I have never really trusted God all that much. Maybe I only did because it was easy to do so at that time. Do I trust Him when it gets hard? Hmmmmmm.

Wednesday, December 12

More of Not Much

At some point it seems that it might just be wise to quit blogging until there is something to say.

It could be weeks.

No one ever accused me of being wise though… and therefore I bring you:
More blogging about nothing.

I am currently nervously eating Hershey’s Miniatures the Limited Edition mint collection. I don’t recommend them. Very Disappointing. Still, it does not stop me from popping a sixth one into my mouth. While I binge on below average chocolate I am jiggling Lydia, watching the Dateline about the McCoy septuplets and blogging about nothing. If I don’t do these things I will have no excuse to stay in the warm house while Troy is outside trudging up and down the hill packing things from the shed and putting it in the Suburban (did I mention that it’s for sale?)

We’ve been staying in our own house the last two nights. We figured Matt and Tina could use some space and a break from the chaos and people tromping up and down to use their bathroom. We also thought it would be a good way to get the holes puttied and do some repairs. So far exactly ZERO people have come to see the house; it has not mattered that we’ve ignored the work up until now. Christmas in the worst housing slump in recent years ... seems like a really smart time to have a house on the market.

Earlier tonight my dear sweet husband suggested I leave him with the five littler kids (big girls are gone) and go to Target all by myself. I thought his idea was lovely. Unfortunately, all of my make-up, deodorant and hair products are in that bag I left in Iowa. In addition to that gigantic problem, I’d been crying … and we all know what post-cry eyes look like. It presented me with a major decision. Go to Target looking similar to a dishrag; or not go and pass up a few minutes of alone time. In the end I decided I could hide if I saw someone I knew and it was worth the risk to get out of the house for a few minutes.

Our former renter has not moved the last of her items. This has been great cause for annoyance. Because it is annoying I reasoned that if she is going to leave a really nice and warm fur and leather coat in my front closet even though her lease was up 13 days ago, I probably have a right to wear it. Once I got to Target I spent the entire time keeping my head down making sure that:
A. No one I knew was in the aisle I was entering -- and
B. The renter was not there to see me in her super nice coat

At one point in a toy aisle I thought I was coming upon Julie Lien from church. She is a very pretty lady and always looks put together. I moved so fast out of that aisle I scarcely missed crushing a small child and frightened everyone around me. It did not turn out to be Julie. Crisis averted.

Other than ducking around acting weird, my all-alone outing was fun. I tried hard to find the perfect piece of chicken for the kids’ teacher. In the end I settled for chocolate that will go with a wooden Haiti box.

Troy has been dealing with a mini-crisis at the Mission. One employee is suspended until someone can get down there to deal with it all face to face. That is not great news. Peter seems to be handling it well. We're praying for him.

Phoebe is all chatter lately. She learned to say "Thank you." She says it SO cute, it sounds just like Elmo. She trucks around all the time, her arms are a big part of her walk... she uses them as if they play a major part in propelling her forward. She screams for food whenever she sees someone with it. With this size group she can almost be screaming for food that is in sight every waking hour. When she says thank-you, it is usually for food.

The McCoy septuplet thing is over now. I think those people are totally amazing. I liked that they admit to crying a lot when their kids were smaller. It makes me feel better. I love my kids so much. They are each so different and unique, I would not change anything ... except the number of hands I have. I wish I had four hands. I don't cry until I find myself with four or more of them and no one to help. That is when, without fail, Noah wants to be wiped, Phoebe is crying for food or trying to fall down the stairs, Lydia is crying to be nursed or changed, and Isaac is talking non-stop about Transformers and asking questions about them that I cannot answer. Do Transformers go to Heaven? Are they real? Which one is my favorite? Don't I think they are wonderful? Do I want Optimus Prime for Christmas? When did Transformers start? And on and on and on. Other people do this many little kids thing, I know they do, I am hopeful that one day I will feel it is possible to do it with grace and maybe even class too.

Back to the Suburban. We haven't talked about it in a while. YOU don't have to buy it. Just find someone who will. Is that too much to ask? You certainly know someone who wants a large vehicle with a nice grill and four tires. The other option, find someone to buy the house and we will throw the Suburban in for free.

You see, selling the Suburban for a very fair price will allow the house to sit on the market longer and the payment to be made. If you just buy the house the Suburban won't really matter anymore. I'm opening up all sorts of options for you all. Any way you like it, we're flexible.

The end of blogging about nothing. Go about your business.

Thanks

We found a translator. Thank you ALL for your suggestions, a few of them were too busy with Christmas coming but we did find someone from your ideas, so thank you.

The Suburban comes with four tires included. No extra charge.

Photos by Britt



Britt's favorite psychotic caroler.
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Translator Question - Sale

This is totally lazy of me, I know ... But I don't have email addresses to ask most of you in any other way. The choices listed on the IBESR blog-page seem to be backed up or leaving for Christmas. Have ANY of you successfully used a French teacher at your local High School? I've heard that it is best to use someone who is familiar with the verbiage used in adoption dossiers but if that is not true --- someone set me straight.

Suburban still for sale. Has seating for 8. If you have 3 kids you can have an entire row separating you and your spouse from them. Think about it. That is a huge benefit.

Pre-panic Mode

Pre-panic, is not panicked ... but headed that direction. We need a translator that is not backed up. We need someone who can start and finish a dossier by Christmas. Deb Blatz has been suggested and she is unable to help due to a large work load. I figured half the readers are adoptive parents and maybe you can tell us who to use ... our adoption processes just like yours, living in Haiti affords no extra conveniences - we need the translator and the Chicago step to be done in time to return home with the dossier complete in our hands. If I can get three or four ideas that would be great ... and of course a fair, competitive price is necessary.

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Do you want to buy a Suburban? Dark Gray with a fancy grill thing to throw deer or cows away from the truck without hurting you or your children. Priced right. Must sell.

Tuesday, December 11

gift ideas from the most thoughtful ones

I asked Hope what sort of gift we might get her teacher for the last day. She thought about it a moment and said, "Popsicles...or maybe ice cream." I worked hard to get an idea that would not melt in the classroom but she had nothing else to offer.

Later on Hope was gone to a Basketball game with Paige and Britt and I asked Isaac. I said "Isaac, I need ideas for your teacher. What sort of gift could we give her?" He said, "uuuuhhh. How about a note. How about a note with an envelope!" I said, "I am thinking more about a gift, something she would really like. We can put the note AND the envelope with it. Do you know what she likes?"

Isaac replied, "Uuuuuhhhhhhh Uuuuhhhh Hum (long thoughtful pause) she likes chicken! We could get her some chicken! Or maybe pizza."

Would you enjoy receiving a package of chicken breasts, a frozen pizza or a box of popsicles the most?

The emails on the Suburban are just poooouuurrring in... move fast or you'll miss your chance to buy massive quantities of gasoline.

Hunker Down

In the final 20 days of our time as a complete family here in the States we have made a goal and a conscious effort to run around less. We will see if our resolve is strong enough to make that happen. It seems doubtful, but you've got to have goals.

I had the goal of leaving Iowa with all our belongings, but as it turned out -- that goal was in vain. As we were leaving yesterday my Uncle locked Lydia in the house all alone, I *DID* remember to go back in and get her ... But it turns out that my entire toiletry bag, which is most of what I own to make myself look decent along with my glasses and other things of infinite importance, were all left sitting at their house. We (and by we I mean TROY) also forgot Lydia's prescription in the refrigerator there. I got the third degree from the pharmacist last night when I went to get more Amoxicillin. He seemed to think I was going to use it in my Meth Lab or something. I assured him that we had left the Rx in Iowa and just needed it for our little girl and her ear infection. He looked at me skeptically and said he would "have to call the state." Whatever.

Isaac and Hope will finish up their MN Kindergarten career later this week. The class is having a party for them on Thursday. I hope it will be a happy day for them, I think they will miss going and certainly their teacher in Haiti will not be as sweet as their MN teacher. Sigh.

For some reason Amie Sexton was looking for a picture of a "psychotic caroler" on the Internet. I think mainly because they live in North Carolina and things are just different there ... But when she googled it - this was the result page. I have no idea why. Maybe it is just the word "caroler." We love to sing after all. Certainly the word psychotic does not play into it at all. When I Google "crazed and bizarre southern Nascar fans" I get a photo of the Sexton family. Go figure. Amie uses The Google just like my Dad. Big into the Internet she is. She even knows how to comment on a blog post. We're sending her Dad's certificate instead.

If you know of ANYONE in the Midwest looking for a larger vehicle -- maybe someone who enjoys filling a tank with lots of gas --- please tell them we have a 1999 Suburban that is in very good shape with 133,000 miles on it available for an excelllent price. Have them email for photos and more information.

If this did not have a huge degree of truthfulness to it, we (Britt and Tara) would not find it funny - but it is pretty funny. Enjoy.

Monday, December 10

Postcard from MN

We're back in the north land. Iowa went well, the traveling team behaved beautifully. Paige was undoubtedly the MVP of the weekend tourney. Isaac had the most assists and was close on Paige's heels for the MVP award.

Paige kept kids in line while we were tied up, she wowed the crowds with her poise. Troy only offended like six or eight Dutch people. Success all around.

We're busy running around like chickens without heads - more when time allow.

Friday, December 7

Northwest Iowa

This weekend we're headed to the NW corner of Iowa. I told Isaac about it last night and he said, "IOWA!!! IOWA!!! YES! I WANT TO GO TO IOWA!" (brief pause) "What is Iowa Mom?" (I assured him it is WONDERFUL.)

The traveling team for the weekend: T&T - Hope and Ike - Paige and Lydia. Noah and Phoebe are benched. Britt has a full calendar including her very own speaking gig in MN on Saturday morning, so she can't come. For the record, we did not bench her. Never.

Tess will be taking Phoebe. Lisa and Declan will be taking Noah. Declan is about 7 feet tall. We're encouraging Noah to try and push him around ... maybe Declan can knock some sense into the boy before we return. Noah just said, "They don't got any kids mom." Either he knows they will spoil him, or he finds that to be very curious. Or both.

We're staying with my Uncle Rick and Aunt Dianne in Spirit Lake, then spending all of Sunday in the Dutch command post for the entire Midwest; Orange City, Iowa. We'll spend that afternoon with my first cousin, Steve Pals and his family. Orange City is one of those places where people still walk around in this outfit:Hope walked up while I was looking for this picture. She frowned and said, "Who are those ladies. They don't look so nice. Their skirts are waaaay up on their tummy." (Never mind the wood blocks on their feet.)

I am going to spend all of our drive-time helping Troy understand WHICH Dutch jokes will be well-received and which ones he needs to table. The teasing within a marriage might not be acceptable when used on a church full of strangers.

That is the weekend plan - the full report. It will be wonderful. Isaac says so.

Recently I was listening in while my mother talked to a long lost relative on the phone. She was telling this relative that they should email her and my dad. She said, "Yeah, Randy is big into the Internet - can you believe that?!!!!?" I sat listening and laughed, wondering ... What exactly does it mean to be "big into the Internet." I asked Dad. Dad said, "Well, I know how to check e-mail." Troy said, "Yes but can you use The GOOGLE?" It turns out that he DOES know how to do a Google search and therefore he is indeed "big into the Internet." Technology be cursed, the older generation will not be left behind! (I'm so proud of you Dad. If you ever figure out how to leave a comment on the blog we will give you a certificate of Internet greatness.)

In closing for the weekend ... If you've been coming to this blog because you just recently learned of it (and you're big into the Internet) and want to find out more about Haiti, Lifeline, or what we're about ... Please ignore the last three months of posts and go to the first link (called More Information) on the left to get a more serious look at things. The blog has sort of left the track lately and has little to do with ministry in Haiti ... we're on furlough, we're delirious, and we're not exactly keeping it all about Haiti right now.

Have a WONDERFUL weekend.
Tara for all of us

P.S. To Dr. James Steen - Happy Belated Birthday!

pre date conversation between people who have given up

"Are you okay with me wearing this shirt with baby puke on it? I can fold up the sleeve and hide most of it."

"Yeah, fine, I have some sort of unidentifiable schmeg on my shirt too."

Had we known or even imagined it would come to this back in the days of dressing to impress one another --- we may never have gotten on the train.

It's a crazy ride. I'm glad we didn't know. I would hate to miss this.

Thank you for a fun and delicious dinner Tom and Mary!

Thursday, December 6

A little taste of Isaac A. Livesay

Yes, he is for real. He is the king of the compliment. He is Mr. Joyful.

Watch how he ignores Noah taking a total cheap shot. The boy is incapable of being mean. Isaac means "laughter" - he produces lots of it around here.

video
By the way ... he thinks you're wonderful too.

Baby Updates

The photo above is of Jess and Annie. Jess is caring for Annie in Haiti and is currently volunteering with Maranatha Children's Home. Isaac looked at Annie for a long time this morning. He said, "You mean she is to me like Phoebe is to Hope? The same BIRF-mother?" He might be getting it now. Even if he cannot pronounce "birth" correctly.

Thanks to Leslie Rolling for getting this photo for Matt and Tina yesterday. :) Leslie - we will re-pay you with an Ipod. We're that generous.

Lydia Beth went in for her two month check-up this morning. She is exactly nine weeks old today. She was supposed to get immunizations but because we learned she has an ear infection we need to put that off a couple of weeks. It explains some grouchy behavior over the last many days but she is not running a fever so I had no idea. :( Sad! I feel bad.

Anyway, she is up to 11 lbs and 2 oz and is 22" long. She looks just like her daddy and her big brother. And she has huge biceps.