Friday, March 30, 2012

Last one

More painting

Painting her fingers and toes!!

We were upstairs getting ready and I couldn't find Finley. I found her sitting at the back door painting her fingers and toes and honestly, she did a great job!!!! Too cute!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More Updates from Haiti!!!

I have 2 days of Haiti updates. For some reason the way kev uploaded the pics did not work so I was unable to get them off the email but was able to on a different computer this morning. So here are the updates:

We had a hard work day today. More filling walls with rubble. We went back to the house we filled on Friday and they were already putting on the crepisage (stucco) coat on. The first three pics are of the house we were working on today. I met the father of the family that will be moving in once it is done and he was very appreciative. There will be a total of nine people living in the approximately 18x12' house. After we were done working, we took a little walking tour. We visited the school and I had my camera this time so I snapped a few pics in the courtyard. It looks very nice and big. We saw the water purification system the other team is installing at the school. It should be done tomorrow. I'm going to try and slide over there and catch the training so I can see how it works. It sounds really interesting. It uses a similiar system to a saltwater swimming pool to generate chlorine to sanitize the water. I will find out more tomorrow if I see it in action. Their whole team is very friendly and I have enjoyed spending time getting to know them. There may even be a potential water project partnership forming out of this trip (fingers crossed). We stopped by Moises house and saw the first rubble house. They have changed it a bit with a new roof so from the outside it looks like all the others. As we were walking back passing the CBF staff house, the security guy stopped us and asked if we wanted some mangoes (Ummmm yes please) He climbed up the tree barefoot and shook the large tree they have out front and about ten or so fell out. We took them with us and ate them back at our place (yummy). I think by now we have told enough different people here that we want to go to the open air market on Wednesday morning that it may actually happen. We shall see so stay tuned for some potentially interesting pictures and stories.

Ernst on the wall

The school we were building back when I traveled to HAiti in 2010. Wow does it look different.

It looks huge!! That right there was where we are meals and the clinic was on the far end of the right side.


We started another house today. This time the foundation was completed so we put up the wall cages we built on Staurday and filled about 1/3 of the walls with rubble. The house is a row back from the street where the rubble was piled so it will take us a little longer to complete this one. We met the lady who will be occupying the house once completed. It is being built where her old house was located before being destroyed in the earthquake. She bakes bread to make a living and she allowed us to come inside her "bakery" which is next door. It was quite interesting to see. It is a wood burning rock and brick masonry oven. By the wear and build up of soot on the beams and roof you can tell this bakery has been in operation for many many years. Probably a few generations. Today was not a baking day but tomorrow is Wednesday so she will be baking bread for the market. She told us she would bake us some too. I think we will be back at the same site tomorrow so I will try and get more information on the family. Ernst took Ethan and I to the soccer field after work and they played a few matches with some of the local kids. Most of them were friendly and very excited to play with a blan (white foreigner) kid. You should be able to tell which one is Ethan in the pictures :).

The bakery-- wow!! That is not what I would expect-- amazing what they can do!

Look at the roller

The oven

Starting the new house

Working hard

Love the soccer. They play soooo hard!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another Haiti Update

Another update from Kevin: 

 We had a good relaxing day. We went to church this morning. Obviously cant understand much of anything but I was actually able to follow along with what was going on in the service. That and the fact that it wasn't blistering hot made a huge difference. After churck, we talked to many old friends and Mike gave us a quick tour of the newly completed school. We went back to the house ate lunch and then off to the beach in a tap-tap. We had a relaxing and refreshing time sitting on the beach, eating lobster and fried plantains with picklese (yummy). Maxie walked down and met us after his English class. He and Ethan threw the football around for a while and swam a bit. We are currently hanging out at the CI house. A small group from Canada came in and are preparing to do several water purification projects in the area. We have enjoyed getting tokbnow them. Ethan spent most of dinner talkiung hockey with two of the guys. Some of the pics are of the team building wall baskets and also hanging in the street in front of the house.
Some of our team building the wire basket walls for the rubble house

Ethan working hard

Maxis, Ethan and Ernst-- I love them all!!! When Ernst emails or facebooks me he calls me mom and I would have taken Maxi home if we could have when we were there. Maxi is about Ethan's age and if you look back to when I was there we were so impressed with him that we decided to support him through school. He has turned into an amazing man and both Ernst and Maxis are fluent in English. They are both amazing!!!

Not sure what they are doing here but Ernst and Ethan are up to something...

I have no idea what happened to the following pictures. I tried to save them from the email in different formats but they came out fuzzy no matter what I did but I guess you get the idea. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Update from Haiti!

I got an update last night from Kevin. I got the first message and it did not sound like I was going to get any pictures but shortly after that I had a bunch of pictures come through. I was so happy!!! It sounds like the team is doing great and Ethan specifically is doing awesome!! I'm so happy for him! I will let you read his emails:

First Email:

Hey, we had quite a day, but we are finally here. arrived about 8:00pm, ate, showered and now I'm in bed. its pouring, thunder, lightning. the wi-fi is up and down so I'm going to send this while its still working. I will send pics and a better message tomorrow.

Second Email:

So, I guess the power and wi-fi decided to stay on after all. We had a super bumpy flight from about Texas all the way to Miami. Some big storm in the South. We did get to see a spectacular aerial view of a lightning show across the night sky though. Tiga met us at the airport in a huge bus for some reason so we got to ride in some comfort. The bus couldnt make it down the narrow road to the orphanage so we all got in a tap-tap for the short ride. We visited briefly with the kids and I got a chance to meet with the director and survey for some future projects (lots to do here). Ethan was a hit with the kids and loved every minute of it. They were just sitting down to lunch when we were leaving. The pic with the long concrete table is where they all eat together. After we left and got back on the road, the bus lost a u-joint off the drive shaft. The driver pulled the 8' or so long drive shaft out, hailed a motorcycle taxi and off they went. Three guys on the bike with him in the middle holding the driveshaft over his head. Awesome!! This is Haiti after all. We got some Cokes from a nearby store, visited with some kids and generally enjoyed hangin on the side of the road. He was gone for about and hour and reappeared with the repaired driveshaft, slapped it in and we were back on our way. After 24 hours of traveling we arrived at the CI volunteer house and were greeted with some awesome rice and beans with chicken (along with the "makes everything taste good sauce" of coarse) yummy!! We took some cold showers and its off to bed, morning comes early around here.

Ethan is loving it here so far. He has been a trooper, making the best of all that has been thrown at us. They have made many improvements to the compound here. Will see it all tomorrow but so far its very nice.

I will try again tomorrow, hopefully the rain will stop its still pouring right now.

 Driving in the massive bus. Tiga is the guy across from Ethan. He is the volunteer coordinator for Conscience International- which is who our group works with and stays with.
 Some members of our team in a Tap Tap (taxi type thing)

 View from the tap tap. You can see the devastation still all over the place as well as the trash etc. all over the place. They have no infrastructure for trash or anything so it just gets tossed on the side of the road.

 We are hooked up with an orphanage outside of Port au' Prince that we along with other churches support. Many of the team had been there before so they wanted to see the kids again. I think they are going to the orphanage later in the week as well. The lady with the camera is Carol Allen. She is a retired cop-- just like Kevin- and she is a wonderful woman!

 Ethan with some of the kids. Clearly Ethan was enjoying himself!

 Kevin mentioned in his email that this is where the kids eat-- all at this big table.

 Ethan bonding with the kids-- he is going to love this trip. I can already tell this is going to be soooooo awesome for him. I am just smiling from ear to ear right now :)

So hopefully we will get more pictures tonight and I will post them as soon as I do. Please keep the team in your prayers. I am so happy Ethan is getting this awesome experience.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kevin and Ethan off to Haiti!!!

Kevin and Ethan left last night for a missions trip to Haiti. This will be Kevin's 5th or 6th trip to Haiti (cant remember) and will be Ethan's first. Ethan has been nervous and excited about this trip and I think the reality of Haiti will hit Ethan hard. Owen went to Haiti in August and literally fit so well there that he wanted to live there. Owen is just the kind of kid that can get along fine wherever he is. Ethan is like that too but he likes the comforts of home and is greatly emotionally affected by things.

For example, remember the movie "8 Below"? It was a Disney movie that came out a long time ago but we took the boys to see it (this was before Mia I think) and we told them that two dogs would die in the movie so be prepared. When the first dog died Owen leaned over to Kevin and I and asked "ok the fist dogs dead-- whens the next one gonna die?" I then looked over at Ethan and he was weeping in silent tears and after the movie he lost it and was balling his eyes out.

You can tell from that illustration how my boys personalities differ. Owen saw the devastation of Haiti and took more of a worker view (much like Kevin)-- I can go and help by building up this place-- and he did. He saw the suffering but the suffering propels him to act. Ethan is not quite that way. He sees suffering and it hits him hard. I don't want to say he wallows in it beuase that is not the best way to put it rather he is deeply affected by pain and suffering and he takes it in and if affects all aspects of him. I think as Ethan drives from the airport on the 4 hour drive to Grand Goave and sees the children living naked in the center median of the road that he will be deeply affected. I think as he sees the people living in tents with the devastation around them that he will be deeply affected. I think this whole experience will touch Ethan at a level that is much deeper and stronger than it would others. He is an emotional kid and with that comes good and bad and for this experience I think it will be good to allow the emotions to overtake him so that his life will be changed. 

Ethan is a good kid but he is also an American entitled kid. We are not parents that give our kids much. We make them work for what they have and we live a much more simple life than many others we know-- BUT, our kids still are entitled kids simply by being an American. To know they can go into the pantry and get food at anytime they please is a far cry from the life children live in Haiti. To know that a 13 year old boy in Haiti (Ethan is 13) is having to work for his family and earn money so that other family members can live is a harsh reality on becoming a man that boys in Haiti are forced into not by choice but by necessity. Our goal is to raise our boys to become men. Not boys in a men's body but MEN! Ethan is 13. He, by all accounts, is a man. Kevin read a book about raising boys to become men. It hit him hard. It was a book about how we coddle our boys and don't guide them to be men. That becoming a man is much more than growing into a mans body rather it is the responsibility of the father (mother too but mostly the father) to shape the boy into a man. This is done intentionally and over time by giving them experiences that will mold them into the man God wants them to be. A man who is not absorbed with himself and his abilities and what he can achieve and gain rather a man who has an eternal perspective who knows the priorities God puts on our lives. Obviously this happens over time but I will tell you the training process has begun in our home. Kevin is taking his role extremely seriously and he is the boys number one advocate for becoming men. This is something Kevin is driven to do. The boys are experiencing new levels of responsibility and accountability and not just in school work and sports but in all aspects of their lives. It is an amazing experience to watch the boys transform from entitled American boys to responsible young men. We are in the beginning phases of this and it takes a lot of work to allow them to fall flat on their faces and not save them because we know letting them fall flat is the experience they need to become strong. It is not easy but in the long run it will be so worth it.

So this is Ethan's voyage into manhood and I look forward to his Haiti journey and how this experience will play a part in shaping him into the man God wants him to be!!! I will be posting pictures Kevin sends me here on the blog.

On the final leg to Haiti

Acting like a goof ball!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rainy Days~~ UGGGG~~ And an update

OK, so this is kind of a rambling post but I soooo despise rainy days on the weekends. It is so hard to keep from literally yelling at the kids all day long. The worst part is it is suppose to rain until Monday~ ugggg~ and we usually are predominately outside so being stuck inside-- we have little to do!!! Dont get me wrong-- here in Southern California we rarely get rain so we are happy when it happens but when it comes on the weekend and is constant/ super hard- without any breaks-- it really gets to me. We are hosting a dinner tonight so I was trying to clean the house (which it desperately needed) while Kevin is trying to cook and Owen is trying to invent some new thing using glue guns and string and cans and freezing these pipe looking things while Ethan is doing everything he can to avoid having to do his school work so he has taken to tormenting the girls for sheer pleasure. There have been blanket forts and hockey games (inside the house) and soccer dribbling, glue gunning and other mess creating events that have literally drove me to yelling on several occasions today. Then I get the pleasure of dealing with the guilt from yelling at them constantly. Oh the joys of rainy days!!!

So I thought I would take this opportunity to update a few things.

First thing is the adoption. Not much going on right now. The process is you first do a ton of things to get your paperwork ready to go to China. Once it is there it gets logged in and then it goes to translation and then to be reviewed and then the coveted Letter of Acceptance (LOA) is sent out after you have been waiting for about 60 days since you were logged in (sorry for the simplistic version all my adoption friends-- I know it is much more complicated than that). We sent our papers to China on 12-16-11. We received a log in date of 12-28-11 and also sent our intent to adopt Emery at that time. We received our approval to pursue Emery (PA) on 1-4-12 and that started our wait. Our file was then sent to translation where it usually sits for about 2 weeks while it is being translated and then it moves to the review room. Our first glitch and hopefully last one happened during translation. Like I said, most people finish in translation in 2 weeks. We sat in translation for 58 days-- yes 58 days. I knew there was something wrong so our agency inquired time and time again and finally we had to get our in-china rep to inquire and when she DEMANDED an answer, our file moved to the review room 2 days later (oh the power of the squeaky wheel). Anyway, now we sit waiting for our LOA. We are now on day 73 and are still waiting. There are tons of people who have been waiting much less time than us getting their LOA's and are now ahead of us in the process-- but alas, we still wait. Im not sure why but sometimes it happens and while it upsets me that our time lines are being pushed further back into summer, I know the LOA will come soon. Praying it will come next week.

The process after LOA takes about 70 days (some faster some slower) until we get our approval to travel (TA). Then we can jump on a plane anytime after that but travel usually happens about 2 weeks after TA. The nice part after we get LOA is the process is more predicable. You know about how long your I800 approval will take and how long it takes for NVC to process the visas and we know the consulate takes 2 weeks to process our article 5 and then our paperwork goes back to China for them to make assign our final travel approval- which usually takes less than 15 days. So, all in all, after LOA, we will travel in about 70 plus days which will put us traveling about late June (oh how I pray it is late June and not into July).

We have not received any updates on Emery besides the one we received a few months back. At that time, she was progressing beautifully developmentally. She turns 1 year old on April 6~ 2 days after Kevin turns 40 on April 4!! We will be sad to miss her first birthday but know we will still get to see many of her firsts. We will get her when she is about 14 months. We have not gotten any new pictures so we only have the 3 original ones from when she was 3 months old. There is a super small chance we may get one update and a picture in a few months but I am not holding my breath on that one (but I am praying we will).

On the home front, the girls and I are spring break next week but the boys are still in school so it will be interesting. Kevin and Ethan leave on a missions trip to Haiti on Wednesday and will be gone for 10 days (March 21 to 31). Ethan is semi excited and a bit nervous especially having to get ready  by taking his typhoid and maleria pills. The reality is setting in and while he is looking forward to it, he is nervous as he is our more "I like things here in America" type kid. Owen was super easy as he can go anywhere and be happy and he LOVED Haiti and is so jealous Ethan gets to go this time but Ethan is more of our kid that likes things orderly and clean (with the exception of his disastrous room) so this trip will be a stretch for him. He is also our NOT so hard working kid (Owen is a hard worker) so the physical labor in Haiti will be a huge wake up call to Ethan-- but I know he will do great and he will have his super hard working dad right along side to guide him through the emotionally draining and physically exhausting process. I'm proud of him for taking this on.

While we are on spring break, the girls and I (Kev and Ethan leave on Wednesday) will probably head to my BFF Laila's house and hang there for a night. We may do something special but just not sure. Owen will probably stay with his friend Judah's house for a night or two so the girls and I can get away. They go to the same school and they live up the street from us so it is a natural for Owen to spend time with the Picous while we get away for a few days.

Other than all that, we are just moving on with our school year and looking forward to it ending soon. I cant wait for this year to be over as it will end with an awesome trip to China to get our little Emery-- awwwwww!!! I do believe you are sufficiently updated. Hope it was not too long and boring. I leave you with a lazy shots of my kids (minus Mia on the couch).

Yes Ethan is still in his pajamas and being lame and they are laying there watching Vegie Tales-- I know it's pitiful but its raining--uggg!!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Checking out the running fountain water!!

Oh the little things that excite them. We got home from running errands and kevin had got out fountain working again and the girls thought that was just about the coolest thing. So, by their request, we took a picture in front of the fountain. Yippeeee!!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The final yummy cake!!

So we finished making the cake and we had Kevin's jambalaya for dinner and we are now sitting down as a family to watch puss in boots from redbox!! Fun day!!!! The boys were off school today (not sure why) so they worked the whole day at my bro and sis-in-law's farm. They worked their bums off and had a great time.

So that ends the chronicle of our lazy Fridays. Hope you were not too board :)

Baking our cake- a little late

We ended up hanging at the mall a bit longer than we thought so we are staring the cake a bit late but we are working hard. Will show the end result soon.

New earrings for the girls!!!!

Little flowers. Very cute!!!

New flower earrings for the girls!!!

Finley enjoying Pho!!!

So here are the girls (in 2 posts) enjoying our favorite lunch pho. We're going to deviate from our normal schedule a bit and head to Walmart to get them some new earrings since Finley lost one and her hole is going to close if we don't get her some new ones soon. Next pic- earrings!!!!

Mia enjoying Pho

Beautiful 80 degree day. Eating at food court play area

Our relaxing Fridays- The Chronicle of our day!!!

The girls and i both have Fridays off and we have a bit of a tradition. We wake up late (they wake up early and watch tv do mom can get a few extra minutes of sleep--thanks girls) and go downstairs and have breakfast (and I drink a pot of coffee- I know it's bad but I gotta wake up somehow). They play around the house and at about 11am we start I'm crafts. They usually draw like crazy and make some tape and paper thing. We then get ready and go to pho- Vietnamese noodle soup. It is sooooooo yummy and the girls and I love it. Plus it is $6 out the door for soup big enough to serve all 3 of us plus have left overs. We usually go to a park Or our local outdoor mall that has an outdoor food court/ play area. We usually chill there for over an hour till its time to pick up the boys. We pick them up an come home and will then bake something special- cake, cupcakes or cookies. Friday nights are usually out family nights where we make homemade pizza or something like that do our baking is our dessert- which we rarely have dessert so it's kinda fun!!!

It's a fun day we look forward to each week. Ya we mix it up here and there but in general, our day goes just like I mentioned.
So, because I now can post to my blog straight from my phone, I'm going to chronicle our lazy Friday. This first post (remember I can only post one pic or video from my phone per post so it will be lot of posts- sorry) is if "craft time". Next comes pho. I'll post soon.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Great night!!!

I came home to flowers and cards and we then went to a new dumpling restaurant I've wanted to visit and then came home to a home made chocolate torte with raspberry sauce and whip cream. Great 40th!!!!