Sorry, internet problems last night! This was supposed to post Saturday. Thank you for reading, praying and caring for our family.
A great day today! We got up with our alarm(s), no divine intervention needed.
We were surprised to see a new car pull up for us today (not new, but new to us!), and our driver/translator team told us that the other car was still being fixed, so we were borrowing another AWAA rep’s vehicle for the day. A few interesting features of this vehicle…#1: No A/C, which led to #2: driver/passenger windows all the way down, and our windows down about 5-6″ the whole ride. Which, combined with #3: No window tinting (we are used to FULL complete tinting on the whole vehicle so no one can see us inside, yet we can observe everything!), made our drive to the O today an amazingly different experience! We got some un-filtered drive-by photography shots (a la iphone), and we got to experience the full sights, sounds and smells of the drive from start to finish! It is amazing what the sound and smells do to enhance your experience! We never knew what we were missing! I’m pretty sure we’ll have increased risk of emphysema from all the exhaust (do you get emphysema from exhaust?) and dust we inhaled, but I really kind of hope the car still isn’t fixed tomorrow because that was almost as good as being outside hopping into a tap-tap, which is what I try to convince our translator to let me do every time we go! LOL he just laughs at me and says “no, no, no!” 🙂 Some day…
One of the oddest parts of the drive though, was realizing that without the tinted windows we were completely vulnerable. Everyone could see us glow-in-the-dark tourists from a mile away, and no one here practices the “don’t stare at strange people” rule that we parents abide by in the states. I’m always telling our kids “please don’t stare!” and here, its almost as if it is a rule of culture that you are to stare at every weird, strange, and exotic and surprising thing you ever see – and on top of that, do not hide your emotion, distrust, distaste, shock or quizzical expressions, in fact – make sure the person or thing you are staring at knows exactly how you feel! haha – we felt a little like exotic zoo animals traveling the streets today 🙂
When we got to the O about 9:40 (early today!), W was in his unmentionables, just getting dressed for us. He immediately gave me a big hug, and tried to yank on his shorts as fast as possible to go play. For some reason, they change their underthings and then put shoes on, and THEN try to put on their clothes…that will be difficult once he starts wearing jeans in the frigid Pacific Northwest! 🙂 We ran right upstairs to bust out some new hot wheels cars and puzzles, and he quickly rummaged through the bag to take stock of what snacks and treats were available to get into throughout the day. Today being Saturday, it is one of our LOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG days here. Today we were there about 5 1/2 hours, and it felt like an exhaustingly long day (in a good way).
The fake Christmas tree they put up on the balcony already had the top 1/3 section broken off when we arrived yesterday, but today, the wind caught the tree a few times, blowing it over, to which it responded, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”, so we just left it down. It then became a great accessory to “machin mouri” (dead cars) after we crashed them and they flew off into the air and landed in the fallen tree. We were able to use that tree for many games today, so it was the Christmas gift that keeps on giving! He is going to love Christmas here at home, because he already loves saying “Merry Christmas!” and I’ve heard his little smoky voice say it about 49 times today.
We had some great playtime, snack times, romp around the yard times, and played lots of baseball and keep away games with the little foam football we brought. He had another “first” today, which was HandiSnacks (the cracker stick and soft cheese kind) – which he thought was AMAZING and finger-lickin’ good. He proceeded to dip and eat all the cracker sticks, then looked at us quizzically and held up the remaining section of cheese dip. Daddy said, “eat it with your fingers!” and his eyes got big, and then it was all over from there. All our remaining handi snacks were devoured in minutes, just so they could dole out dollops of cheese on their fingers and lick them!
Yesterday, I forgot to mention, we found the first thing that he absolutely does NOT like – olives. Regular, black olives – Abby will be so sad, because that is one of her favorite foods! He ate one, like a champ, swallowed it, and then when I offered him another he said “non” and shook his head pushing it away. I asked him if he liked it and he said “no!” and made a twisted, disgusted face, to which I laughed, and then offered one of the other boys an olive to try – which then became the entire group of seven or eight boys each trying an olive. Two of them thought they were at least edible, 4 thought they were disgusting and almost couldn’t even swallow them, and one of them took one lick of a piece and just about gagged! hahaha! We were laughing so hard! W thought it was completely entertaining to see what each boys’ responses were.
About 12:15pm today (which felt like 3pm, I was nearly positive my phone’s clock was frozen!) W got extremely tired, almost like he had hit a wall and just couldn’t keep going. I noticed he was getting a spacey look, and slowing down considerably while we were out playing football in the yard, so I scooped him up and asked him if he was tired (fatigue – fah-tee-gay in Creole) he threw his arms around my neck and muffled “yes” into my shoulder – this is something he has never done – say “yes” to being tired! He ALWAYS says no. He never wants to stop having fun, like he doesn’t want to miss out on anything. That will be a huge transition coming home…a place without constant stimulation and 115 kids! So we slowly made the climb back up onto the third floor balcony, shooed all the kids off the floor and closed the gate (this is a new thing this trip, for the past two trips the gates have been broken, so they do not close properly, which makes it super difficult to get quiet time alone! Thank the Lord for the functioning gate this trip! It has allowed us some nice quiet moments either just with him, or with only a couple kids out there. Quiet peaceful afternoons.
We sat quietly, ate a couple snacks (hostess mini donuts, the crumble ones, my favorite), and he laid in my lap and snuggled, Daddy snapped incognito photos and probably dosed, while I read him a board book we brought about the Christmas Story. Mary and Joseph, (manman and papa jezi) and the angels and the man at the hotel who said ,”fey bak” (spelling?) which basically means move back – or loosely, back away – because there was no room. 🙂 (in my limited creole, I think it came across. He seemed familiar with the story and was enjoying looking at all the pictures). We thought for sure he was going to fall asleep on my lap, which I was honestly dying for – that’s been something we’ve wanted since the beginning – but it was not to be! We “rested” doing quiet things for about 30 minutes until he slowly built up a second wind, and then we powered through until it was time to go.
One funny thing we saw today that we haven’t seen before – the O has a massive water container for their clean water in the front yard. It is a huge black drum of sorts with a small-child size opening in the top. The container itself is I would guess around 6′ x 6′, and the kids are always opening the spigot to get water in mouths, spoons, bowls, whatever they can hold it in throughout the day. Anyway today we notice one of our tween-age kids that hangs with us was dragging a big hose around and spraying water all over the container. We watched curiously for awhile and then went back to our playtime. About 10 minutes later I turned to see the entire thing tipped on its side, and the kids playing in the hose water spraying everywhere in the yard, laughing and giggling. Then after a moment, one of the kids slithered out of the hole in the top of the drum, and the hose water sprayed in! I turned to one of the older boys and said, “are they supposed to be doing that?” He laughed and told us that yes, they are, that is how they clean it! They spray it out with the hose, and then someone climbs in with soap and they wash it! LOL it was quite comical, but also a genius idea and gave the kids an entertaining afternoon!
We said our goodbyes and then made the long dusty open-windowed ride back to our hotel. A great day, and on top of our time with W, the internet fairies visited us and we had netflix and near-consistent wifi ALL EVENING!!!! 🙂
One last day with W tomorrow, and then we fly out Monday afternoon (but we have to be at the airport early enough that we won’t be able to go out to the O on Monday. Bummer). Excited to see our kids at home, but sad to still leave him here. Really glad that he’s safe and happy here for the time being, although we can see a change in him each time we’ve been here, that he seems to begin to wonder when he is going to drive in the car with us, and when he will have to say goodbye. We showed him lots of videos of our house and the neighborhood today, which I think was good for him to see a little of what it would be like, so it isn’t so overwhelming, and so he can get a better visual than what our limited language can convey. But it is difficult not having a finite time-frame, without knowing when exactly he will be coming home, and how long he has left in his home country, at his school, and with his friends.
I can’t imagine being his age and being uprooted – as life changing as it will be for us, it will be a million times more for him, and there won’t only be the beautiful things he will be able to experience here, there will be years of loss and grief of people and life that he has to leave behind. These kids, while they do need forever families, are not loveless, they are well-cared for by their nannies and the director of the O, and the other staff and children. They do need parents, and brothers and sisters, but it will be difficult to leave his community that he has had for the last 3 years.
Alright. My eyes are rolling around in my head, so that means time to catch some sleep while I can.