Monday, July 30, 2007

More Observations on the Kids

Today, we played outside with tinker toys and then later put out the kiddie pools again. Lots of fun! I definitely find that I get overwhelmed with the kids when I have too many at once, though. It's fine with the pools because they all stay there and don't try to wander away, but with the tinker toys, it was hard to keep them from heading off with pieces in their hands. I kept trying to get them to stay sitting, but it's no small task. I always start out with just a few kids and then they magically multiply until I have too many to handle! I don't know how the nannies do it! Anyway, here are some more observations:

Woodson and Geoff: Woodson and Geoff were such good boys while we were playing with the tinker toys. They were the only ones that I didn't have to keep chasing around. They got to play the longest since they were being so good (the other kids got rotated, but I didn't make them leave since they were playing so nicely). Woodson was really funny. He started hitting the ground with one of the tinker toys like a hammer and singing, "Bob the Builder - Can we fix it? Bob the Builder - Yes we can!" It was VERY cute!

Thania: Thania was also cute while we were playing with the tinker toys. She was mostly using them as drumsticks, using the metal container as a drum. She was also very intent on picking up all of the tinker toys and putting them back into the container! In the pool, Thania's favorite thing to do was to use the hose to spray the other kids (which none of them minded - there's not much water pressure). She spent the entire time in the pool with that hose in her hand!

Kassandra (not Robert's sister - the other Kassandra): She was such a sweetie at pool time. At one point, she thought she had to get out and said to me, "Fini?" I told her no and gestured that she could go back to the pool. She got this elated look on her face and RAN back as fast as she could. Later, when it was time to get out, I dried her off and she headed back toward the play area. All of a sudden, she turned back around, ran to me, gave me a kiss and then headed back again. It was so adorable! Hard not to be won over by that!!

Jesse: He knows how to get what he wants around here. Since he speaks the best English, he probably gets the most attention from the visiting volunteers - He's cute and he knows it! He sat on my lap today while I read him several books. I'm really amazed at how much he understands. I even use him to translate for me sometimes!

Landie (which is pronounced "Lahndzy" by the way): She is such a big, tough girl! She definitely holds her own among the boys in the Boat room. At one point, one of them started pestering her and she just nonchalantly thrust out her arm, knocking him right over. It didn't faze her a bit!

Lily: Lily took some time to warm up to me. She's a bit shy and when I first came, she would look at me with this scowl on her face, as if to say, "Who do you think you are?" She's also too shy to pose and smile for pictures (at least for me). But, after I was here for a day or so, she got used to me and smiled and came over to me when she would see me come into the baby house, so I guess I won her over!

Isabel: She is such a fun and energetic girl! She had so much fun in the pool, pouring water over her head and splashing in the water. She can hold her own with the boys too - even the bigger ones. And, wow, could she get any cuter?!

Jack: I wish I'd gotten to know Jack a bit better while I was here. Somehow, he always seemed to be off somewhere where I wasn't. I found out an interesting bit of information about him, though. He and Noah are related! Apparently, Jack's mother and Noah's father are cousins (so they would be second cousins). No one here knew that - Noah's mother often comes with Jack's grandmother, but no one realized they were related (at least not as far as Katie knew).

Makenzie: He was funny in the pool. He started balancing a full glass of water on his head, showing off. He was actually very good at it!! Of course, then all of the other kids had to balance cups of water on their heads too, but I think Makenzie was the best at it. It was a hoot!

Fresnel: Fresnel is quite the little jokester. He kept throwing water at Maria and he thought it was so funny! Maria says he always has quite the sense of humor! He really had such a fun time splashing around in the water. It was great to see!

Chelda: Chelda also has a fun sense of humor. At one point, Nelson pulled off my glasses and tried to run away and she just laughed and laughed! She thought it was hilarious!! It really cracked me up. It was great to see her interact with the other kids.

Well, I think that's all for tonight. If I didn't write anything about your child, please feel free to leave a comment and ask about them. I've tried to write about as many as I could, but it's hard to keep track of all of them. Unfortunately, I didn't spend much time with the younger babies, so I can't write much about them. I hope this blog gives you all some insight into your kids and life at COTP. I've been amazed all over again at what a wonderful place it is and at the care that our kids get. I can't wait to bring Noah home, but I'm glad that he's here while he's waiting for me!

General Observations About Noah

I just thought I'd write a few of my general observations about Noah. He is really a good-natured boy and he plays well with the other kids. Of course, he can throw a bit of a fit when someone's trying to take something from him, but nothing out of the realm of a normal 2-year-old. Today, he was actually being a bit of a stinkerpot - he kept trying to run away from me, wouldn't come or sit when I told him to. I would have let him stay out longer, but he was causing too much trouble!! I'm sure we're going to have a few struggles when he first comes home - a few time-outs will probably be in order! :-) But, in general, he's a sweetie - kind of shy - always excited when he sees me. I just can't wait until he is home with us and I can interact with him like Mommy instead of like a volunteer!

As far as I can tell, Noah hears just as much as any of the other kids. I really don't see any evidence that he's not hearing things. He doesn't always respond, but none of the kids respond ALL the time. Standard two-year-old selective hearing.

Noah is very playful and likes to be goofy. He had so much fun at school - just being silly with the teacher at song time. It was really cute. But, he also sat well and played with play doh quietly. Overall, he seems like a normal two-year-old boy.

One thing I forgot to say before (I'm adding this later) - Even though the nannies and kids call Noah "Louines", the volunteers call him Noah. He seems to answer to both most of the time. I suppose we might end up saying "Noah Louines" for a little while, which is fine, since that's going to be his name! (Noah Louines Pierre Hewitt)

Lazy Sunday - Day 6

Yesterday was a lazy day around here (for me, at least). Maria said they try to keep activities down to a minimum on Sundays and they don't bring kids over to the guest house. That was fine because I felt like maybe I should spend a little less time with Noah yesterday anyway - he's definitely realizing that I pay special interest in him (even though I try not to too much - but he's always in the group I bring over :-) and I don't want him to suddenly miss me too much when I'm gone. So, I mostly spent the day in the guest house, taking care of Niki and hanging out with him and Daniella.

In the afternoon, the kids were out by the playset, so I brought Niki out with me and we sat and watched them play. All of the kids love to see a baby, so they all crowded around, checking him out. Unfortunately, Noah wasn't out with the other kids. The kids in the Elephant room don't seem to get out quite as much because the nannies need to be with the kids with CP. It's kind of a shame, but I know that Noah will be home soon and it won't matter anymore. Maria did say that sometimes one of the nannies will stay with the CP kids and the others will go out with the kids - just depends on which nannies are here. Later, Noah was outside and I took some video of him playing, but I think he must have escaped because a nanny came our and brought him back inside. The other day, he stood on the gate and played with the lock until he got it open - I see now how some of them escape so often!!

Here are some more observations about the kids:

Chrislande: She is such a sweet, angel-faced girl! She came over while I was holding baby Niki outside and she was so loving and gentle with him. She kept touching his little face. Of course, if one of the other kids tried to touch him, she would push their hand away and say, "No!" She wanted him all to herself!

Pierre: He is so cute and affectionate! He was giving Micah all these kisses and hugs. Of course, Micah was fussing about it, so he could have been doing it to make him mad, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt! :-) He actually did seem to be doing it nicely and not in a "pestering" way.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

School Days - Day 5

Yesterday. I got to watch Noah at "school." They have a teacher who comes in and teaches shapes, colors, numbers and basic concepts like big and small, over and under, etc. Of course, they learn all of this in Creole, but it's good that their getting a base in learning these things. I was actually impressed with how much they learn and with how long their school session lasts. They also sing songs and learn concepts like please and thank you. It was neat to see Noah in that environment. He's obviously hearing just about everything because he would repeat what the teacher said, even though the room was often noisy and she wasn't sitting right next to him. It's obvious that he understands a lot - I wish I knew more Creole!! I'm going to have to really start studying Amy's Creole book! Noah was so funny - when they were singing and doing a ring around the rosey type dance, he would often just break down in these huge giggles and fall to the ground. He was having so much fun!!

In the afternoon, I brought Noah over to the guest house and just sat with him on the patio for awhile. I had a book with us and tried to get him to repeat the names of the animals, but he wasn't interested (he repeated me when I said other things to him before, though, so I know he was hearing me). Elly took some pictures of us out on the porch and then I brought him back to the baby house because it was about time for dinner. It was nice to just sit and have a small amount of quiet time with him. When I brought him back to the baby house, though, he didn't want me to go he held onto my hand and cried when I put him down. It's so hard to see him sad!! Of course, there were three or four other kids crying because I wouldn't pick them up either, so I decided to make a quick escape!

The Hospital - More of Day 4

I forgot to write about our trip to the hospital on Friday night. Yanise is already there with meningitis and it looked like Ruth was getting sick too. No one wanted to take any chances, so Blake and I brought her to the hospital in Milot that night. The pediatric ward of the hospital is basically a large room with cribs in it, plus a little neonatal room where the newborns are kept. It's not much to look at (someone has to stay with the child at all times and they just have a plastic lawn-type chair to sit in - the signs for the neonatal area and other signs are just written in marker on paper), but Blake says that the staff and the doctors there are very good. It's a private, Catholic hospital as opposed to the public hospitals. He said that at the public hospitals, there's garbage on the floors and people are basically left to die. Hopefully both Yanise and Ruth will be alright since they got to the hospital in time, but they could use prayers.

The drive home was interesting. I would have a very hard time driving in Haiti. The roads are filled with huge potholes that you have to navigate around and there are tons of pedestrians, even at night. And, of course, there are no street lamps, so driving at night can be a dangerous endeavor. It's amazing how many things we take for granted in the US!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Day 4 Cont. (and some of Day 5)

Yesterday evening, I went over and spent time with Noah while they were eating dinner. It's amazing to me how much food these kids eat!! They each had a huge bowl of noodles with white sauce. The nannies feed the kids huge bites at a time and they are each done with their big bowl of food in a matter of minutes. There's no way Jadne and Danielle could eat so much food, especially in so little time! I was feeding Noah and I could not keep up with the nannies' pace. I was trying to feed him big bites, but all of the other kids were finished eating and went for their baths and I was still trying to get him to eat the rest. I don't know the nannies' secret! Eventually, I gave up and one of the nannies took his bowl away with some still in it (I think he's the only one who didn't finish his off). Of course, the older kids (in the Lion room) feed themselves at a little table, but I've been told they eat just as much and just as fast. I guess that's just what they get used to.

Okay, here are some more reports on the kids I played with individually or in a small group:

Evanson and Sammy: I played with these two together, so I thought I'd talk about them together. Evanson was great at blowing bubbles and a real sweetie. He mostly wanted to transfer bubbles back and forth from my bubble wand to his bubble wand and he had quite the technique. Both Sammy and Evanson were fascinated when I would blow giant bubbles. They kept saying, "Blow a big one! Blow a big one!" And then they'd ooh and aah in amazement at the size of the bubbles. They played so nicely together - nice and polite and great at taking turns!

Ti Kendy - Kendy is so funny! He talks so excitedly about everything! Almost everything he says, he yells. The whole time we played with bubbles, he shouted and pointed at this or that. It was as if he were talking about the most important things in the world!!

Woosben, Thania and Kassandra (Robert's sister): These three were so funny together. Kassandra was being a bit of a stinkerpot, putting bubbles on Thania instead of blowing them (Kassandra and Thania weren't great at blowing the bubbles, so they were finding other ways of entertaining themselves I guess). Thania would get upset and Woosben would go over and wipe the bubbles off of her and try to make her feel better. It was really sweet. Woosben was a master bubble blower - maybe the best out of all the kids. Thania and Kassandra would bring the bubbles over to Elly and I so that we could blow them for them.

Moise and Reubens: Moise and Reubens were only interested in bubbles for a short while. After that, they were too concerned about the fact that they could see Blake cutting branches from guava trees to care about the bubbles. They kept shouting, "NO Blake!! NO!!" at the top of their lungs. I wondered if they were concerned they wouldn't get any more guava. They also sat down together on a chair and shared a guava while they were with me - it was pretty sweet to see how nicely they shared it (Moise seemed rather possessive of it when he showed it to me, so I was surprised that he shared at all). You could tell that they were very good buddies. When it was time for them to be done, I told them who to send over and they said, "No" and started making their own suggestions (actually a few of the kids did this, but I specifically remember Moise and Reubens doing it). It's funny how they want to make sure the "right" kids get turns (I actually think that I got all of the Lion Room kids and a few from the Alligator Room between yesterday and today).

Totalte and Woosben: These two were being real clowns, running all around with their bubbles. Woosben was talking to Maria - a constant chatter that I couldn't understand, but it was making Maria laugh. I was surprised at how well Toto was doing with the bubbles - he really is an amazing boy and so very sweet!

Emmanuel: He had a fun time in the guest house with us reading some books. He was able to identify some of his animals and count to ten. When we were playing with bubbles, I was trying to get him to sing and dance for me again because he had made me laugh so much when he was doing that in the kiddie pools, but he was too busy bubble blowing and I could only get one quick song out of him. He is always full of energy and smiles and his little dimples are just about irresistible!!

Obenson: Obenson is eager to please and a real charmer! We sang some songs like "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and he was always the first to do exactly as I did and repeat the words. You could tell he was just so proud when he got a "Bravo!" from me. It's obvious that he's very smart too - he caught onto things quickly!

Nadege, Jonas and Jacob: These three really like to get your attention! They immediately run to me every time I come to the baby house and try to climb on my lap or get me to pick them up! Nadege will immediately grab my hand. Jonas and Jacob will get these pitiful looks on their faces and just sob if you don't give in and pick them up. I think they know that when a strager comes, they'll most likely get the most attention that way. And it does work!!

Vanessa: Vanessa is such a sweetie! I'm amazed at the improvements she's made since I was here in 2005. She is able to get around now by pulling herself along the floor - it's really impressive how well she gets where she wants to go. She is always such a sweetie - always a smile on her face. She likes to carry this comb around with her and always offers it to me (or at least shows it to me) whenever I come by - I wonder if she's trying to get me to do her hair? She is very smart - she really did well in school today. I can't wait to see what life has in store for her when she's in her new home!!

Family Ties - Day 4

Well, the highlight of yesterday was that I got to meet most of Noah's birth family. I won't go into details about it here (I figure it's Noah's history and, in the future, he might not be happy with the fact that I shared it with the world), but I will say that it was an amazing experience and that I'm so excited that I got to meet them.

Other than that, we played with a lot of bubbles yesterday. I brought Noah and three of the kids in his room overto play. It was fun, but the kids were too little to really blow bubbles and they mostly just ended up spilling them. We also had sidewalk chalk out and a couple of kids actually used it to color, but mostly they just transferred them back and forth into and out of the bin again and again. One would put them in another would dump them out, others would help the first put it bsck in again. They did this for probably an hour. I got some stories and read to them a bit, but somehow more and more kids kept making it out of the baby house and soon I had eight instead of four. I found once again that I am MUCH better at keeping control of them when there are only a few. I was really relieved when two of the nannies came over to help!

Later, I took some of the older kids over one on one and we read stories and then started bringing them two by two when they wanted to play bubbles (they had seen me with the younger kids earlier). Here are some observations of the kids (I know I always like to read about Noah on other people's blogs):

Peterly: He is such a sweetie. He knew quite a few animals and could count up to ten (although he sometimes skipped eight). Really smart! He didn't really want to sit and let me read full books (he preferred to point to the pages and name things). I doubt he understood them quite well enough. He was so cute - he lined up all of the books we had read in a straight line and counted them over and over. He also played really well by himself while I had to feed one of the babies. I remember Peterly being a real sweetheart two years ago when I visited - he hasn't changed!

Christola: She liked to let me read full books to her, even though she probably didn't understand all of them. What she really wanted to do was play with bubbles, though - she was so excited and did a really good job with them. She's really energetic and sweet.

Nelson: Nelson is the sneaky one. He somehow always manages to escape the baby house and once he's out, he's looking for some mischief to get into. His mama is going to have her hands full with him! But, man is he a cutie! He can melt you with those eyes and he knows it!

Well, I'll try to write more later, but I'm out of time for now. I'll try to write about as many of them kids as I can!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Summer Fun - Day 3

Well, yesterday was another fun day here at COTP. I got to spend more time with Noah. I've discovered that it's much better to take a few kids over by the guest house patio than to try to see Noah over at the baby house. Every time I walk over to the baby house, I feel like I create complete chaos because so many of the kids just want to be held and want your attention. There is a group of probably seven or eight in each room that just mob me whenever I come by. They try to climb onto me, cling to my legs, knock each other over to get to me, and, if they don't get picked up, they cry - and when I say cry, I mean CRY! I end up causing four or five meltdowns whenever I go over there and it just makes me feel so bad. I'm always looking at the nannies thinking, "I'm so sorry - I know I'm just making life difficult for you." Noah is not one of the clingers. He sits off to the side and just watches me or plays quietly. When I go over to him, he looks up at me and gives me his little hand, ready to go where I want to go. I think he's figured out that when I come he gets to go over to the other building - he always seems happy to come with me. A couple of times, I've caught him looking at me and I think, "Does he know?" I doubt he really realizes who I am, but it's nice to feel that connection without having to worry about forming a bond that's going to get broken when I leave.

So, yesterday, I took several of the kids over to the guest house porch and we sang some little songs and I had them show me where their eyes are, where their ears are, etc. It's cute how eager they are to please. I had such a hard time coralling them, though. They wait to see how much they can get away with with the visitor! One of Noah's nannies came over to help out and they listened to her so well! I had been telling them (in Creole) to sit the whole time. She came over and told them once and they all sat right down. I was so impressed! After a little while, we decided to get the play dough out. It was really fun to watch Noah play and to see how he interacts with the other kids. He is a really low-key boy. He plays so nicely and is so focused on what he's doing. At one point, some of the kids had kind of lost interest in their play dough and he just started gathering it all for himself. He had a huge pile of play dough in front of him for awhile there.

Later, one of Noah's nannies, Rose Carmen, put my hair in braids. One of the older boys, Jesse (who speaks wonderful English) kept telling me, "Rose Carmen is going to do your hair later. She's going to do your hair later!" I couldn't tell if she was telling him that or if he was just saying it, but I guess it came from her. She was really sweet and my braids look great! I'll upload pictures when I get home.

While Rose Carmen was finishing my hair, Elly (one of the other volunteers) brought some of the kids to go in the kiddie pools. They love them! Noah kept jumping in the air and crashing down into the pool on his bottom. He definitely loves the water - I can't wait till he can go in our pool! These kids are not afraid to get water on their faces at all. They pour cups of waters over their heads and throw it at each other. So much fun! When the older kids came over, the boys were all singing and dancing in the pool - so cute!! Emmanuel especially was putting on a show for me - doing all these cute funny little dances. It's amazing how many of the kids I still recognize from when we were here two years ago. Some of them still look the same!

In the evening, I spent my time at the guest house. A few of the smaller babies stay at the guest house with the volunteers. I am incredibly in love with Daniella! She is five-and-a-half months old and only weighs 6 lbs 13 oz. She is just about the sweetest thing you've ever seen!! The volunteers keep teasing me that I'm going to have to adopt her. :-) I told them it would never work because I already have a Danielle, but they say I would just have to call her Ella.

I had one of the babies - Nikenson - sleep in my room last night, but I was pleasantly surprised that he didn't wake up until 3:30 AM. So, I actually got some decent sleep last night. And now I'm ready to go play today!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dreams IN Haiti - Day 2

Well, yesterday I got to have dreams IN Haiti, instead of Dreams of Haiti. Pretty cool, huh?

Ruthlande and I got to the airport at 4:15 AM. Of course, we didn't really need to be there nearly that early, but that's when the airline said to come. The guy at the Lynx counter didn't even get there until about 5 AM. Oh well.

Ruthlande loved the flight! The plane is tiny - it only holds 19 people and you can't stand up in the plane. We were sitting in the front seat and you could see the propeller out the window. Ruthlande loved it! She was smiling and laughing and pointing out the window. Even when the plane took off - I was worried that she'd be scared because it was really noisy, but she was really excited and happy. It was very cute!! About a half an hour into the flight, she fell asleep (I was surprised she lasted that long - she had been up since 2:30 our time).

When we got to the airport, Sara and Daryl were there to meet us, which was really a relief to me because I was a bit unsure of the process once I got there. They were able to come right in and help with my bags and everything. On the way back to the orphanage we picked up Ruthlande's mama.

So, the reunion. It wasn't exactly what I had been picturing. I had imagined that Ruthlande would see her mama, light up with joy and reach for her (that's what she usually did when we would watch her video). But the whole thing was obviously very confusing for her. I handed her to Madame Mathieu and she just immediately started to cry and hold her arms out toward me. Her mama tried to comfort her, but she wasn't consolable at that point. It just about broke my heart - both because I felt horrible for Ruthlande and because I felt so sad for her mama, who just wanted to hold her little girl again when she'd been apart from her for so long. After awhile, she decided to give Ruthlande back to me so that I could hold her for most of the ride back to the orphanage. We were encouraged when her mama handed her her cell phone and Ruthlande played the "pass the object back and forth" game with her, but she still wouldn't go to her without crying. It was so strange and awkward because I wanted to comfort Ruthlande of course, but at the same time, I desperately wanted her mama to be able to comfort her instead.

When we got back to the orphanage, I caught a glimpse of Noah looking through the gate at the "visitors" (along with lots of other little ones). It was awesome to see him again in person. He looked like such a big boy! I then slipped away into my guest room so that Ruthlande could be with her mama without me there. With me out of the room, she eventually calmed down. I went over to the orphanage (from the guest house) and saw Noah. I'm supposed to keep a low profile while I'm here because they've had issues with kids feeling really abandoned when their adoptive parents came and left again. I don't refer to myself as Mommy and I only play with Noah in a group. It felt a bit strange, like I was stalking him, just watching and wanting so much to just swoop him up and say, "Hey, it's me!!" But it was still amazing to get to see him again. He was playing with a cup and some little toys and jumping around so playfully - I thought how perfectly he'll fit in with our kiddos at home. I did get to pick him up at one point and played with him by leaning over and letting him "fall" backward. He loved it and cried when I put him down, which broke my heart, of course.

We then went to Madame Mathieu's house, so I got to see where Ruthlande lives and meet her family. Her sister had been so excited to see Ruthlande again - Madame Mathieu said that she had woken up that morning very early and said, "Now, go get Ruthlande! Bring Ruthlande home!" The kids were a bit reserved when we got there - I'm sure it was all strange with me being a stranger and because Ruthlande was back to crying and reaching for me. I'm sure it's not what her brothers and sisters were expecting. Still, they were so gracious! They let me take some pictures so I can show Jaden and Danielle where Ruthlande is living now. The kids got all dressed up for the pictures - it was so very sweet! I said goodbye to Ruthlande, which was bittersweet, of course. I know that things will go back to normal for her quickly. This whole experience must have been so confusing for her. I'm still glad that I brought her back here myself. I think the entire trip would have been traumatic for her if she'd made it with someone else. And I'm so glad that I had the privelege to meet Madame Mathieu and to see for myself where Ruthlande lives.

Back at the orphanage, I was surprised to find that all of the older kids knew that I was Noah's mommy. I went out to them and they all swarmed me, sitting on my lap, pulling at my skirt, playing with my hair (not necessarily gently - but they weren't trying to be rough). All the while, they were all yelling "Mama Louines! Mama Louines!" (Apparently, he still mostly gets called Louines). I was so shocked and baffled, I really wasn't sure how to react. So much for keeping a low profile!! Noah wasn't there at the time, though, and I'm hoping that he's young enough that he doesn't really understand. The last thing I want is for him to feel abandoned by me! Later, I played with him and one other little boy and I got to see how he interacts. He plays really well and he was so cutely trying to keep everything cleaned up. Nelson would throw crayons on the ground and Noah would go and pick them up. I saw his naughty streak too - he saw Nelson run away with a piece of paper and throw it on the ground and saw that I told him "No." So, then he got this cute sneaky look on his face and picked up another piece of paper and ran with it, looking back at me smiling that cute "I'm getting away with something" smile. He then peeked around the tree at me, smiling still. I told him "No, Noah", but I couldn't help but smile myself a little. It's so nice to see his personality - all sides of it!!

I went to bed early last night, of course. Sweet dreams in Haiti. And today is another day.

Traveling - Day 1

So, Day 1 of travel was a crazily busy day. In the morning, I did a Noah's Ark workshop at a local preschool. Came home and fed the kids and gave Ruthlande a bath. Then, a photographer from the Daily Herald came by to take pictures of Ruthlande for an article they're doing about her (there should also be one in the Mundelein paper today - Thursday). We left at about 3:30 for the airport.

The flight went really smoothly. Ruthlande fussed a bit, but I gave her some snacks and a bottle and she fell right to sleep. She slept for the rest of the flight. :-)

We then went to the hotel - didn't get there until about 11:00 and then I didn't go to sleep until about 12:00. And the alarm rang at 3:00 AM. Time to get up already!! Needless to say, my brain really wouldn't let me sleep for that 3 hours, but at least I got a little rest.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More Fun Firsts

Yesterday afternoon, Scott called from work and said, "Hey, you want to go see Ratatouille?" So, Ruthlande got to go to a movie at the theatre for the first time. She seemed to really like it, but we think it was a bit loud for her at first. Once she got used to that, though, she was reaching for the screen, trying to touch the picture in the sky! Her favorite thing about the movie was... the popcorn! Yep, just like my kids. Can't beat popcorn at the movie theatre!

Today, we had another fun first for Ruthlande - we went to our local spray park. She really seemed to like the water, but didn't love it in her face. Of course, my three-year-old would run and wipe her face with a towel every time the water got in her eyes, so I guess I can't blame a one-year-old for being antsy about being sprayed in the face with water. It was a fun way to spend the morning, though!

Not much else to report. The countdown is upon us - can't wait for the trip to Haiti!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bo Bos

Ruthlande's favorite "game" lately is to give me "bo bos" (kisses). It's really cute. Last week, I was kissing her little cheeks, saying "bo bos" and she starting reaching out to me with little fish lips. The same kind of kisses that my kids gave when they were babies. So, I kissed her and then laughed. She thought it was hilarious! So we did this over and over again. I'd say "bo bo?" She'd give me a kiss and we'd both laugh as I said "merci bo bo!" After a few times, she started saying "bo bo bo bo". So cute!! Now, she likes to do it all the time. If I play along, it's an easy way to get giggles!

She also seems to like peek-a-boo. My neice was playing with her yesterday and she actually started covering her own eyes too (the first time I've seen her do that). It's so fun to see her being playful!

I can't believe that our trip is coming up so quickly. I feel like there's so much still to do. I can't wait to see how happy Ruthlande will be when she sees her mama again. I know she's missing her so much. Today I was wearing a tank top and she starting pulling it down, trying to suck at my chest. I remembered that Sara told me that Ruthlande was breast fed until just this past April. Oops! Trust me, sweetie, there's nothing there for you! It just made me even more sure that it's time to get her back to her real mama before she gets even more attached to me. I feel 100% like that was the right decision. Can't say that about much in life, so I guess I should savor it, huh?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Countdown to Haiti

Well, I'm trying to get ready for the trip - I had to make an appointment for Ruthlande with Dr. Ruge and I'm trying to get myself set up for travel immunizations. And, of course, I need to start thinking about what I need to pack. We fly out of O'Hare on the 24th (we'll be in Haiti on the 25th), so that's not much time to get everything arranged. Luckily, Scott and I are used to doing things last-minute, so it's nothing new for us.

Yesterday was a fun day. Jaden has been asking me to make him a "Mama Chante" video. "Mama Chante" is what we call Ruthlande's video of her mama ("chante" means sing in Creole - most of the video is Ruthlande's mama singing to her). So, he laid down on a pillow on the floor and we sang goofy songs that he made up and then we read a story while my mom recorded it all. Then, of course, we had to make Danielle a "Mama Chante" video too. They really loved it and it will be a fun thing for them to watch while I'm in Haiti. Jaden wants to make some more videos of Ruthlande too - he says he's going to miss her when she goes home. I'm sure it's going to be really strange around here once she's gone.

We took a trip to the park yesterday evening - the weather was absolutely perfect and the kids found some little friends to play with. I just wish that Ruthlande could walk so that she would enjoy it a little more too. She likes to be outside, but she can't really participate in much, of course. She's not too keen on sitting in the grass, so she usually just stays in the stroller. I did put her on my lap while I went on the swing the other day and she did enjoy that for a few minutes, but then started fussing. She doesn't like to feel off-balance - I think it's partly due to her issues with balancing herself while sitting up.

Anyway, yesterday was a good day. Today, we're going to my nephews birthday party, so we've got another full day!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

We're Going to Haiti!

Due to the amazing generosity of our friends and family, we have reached our goal. We have already been promised enough to cover Ruthlande’s travel expenses!! Honestly, we cannot thank you enough for the outpouring of support that we have been given. It amazes us!

If you were thinking of making a donation and hadn’t let us know about it yet, I encourage you to still donate to Childrens Medical Missions. If you go to their website, you will see that they have 11 children with donated medical care in place and they just need the money for flights for these children. They also have 4 children needing to go home in July. We can tell you from our experience in caring for Ruthlande that these children are a blessing and that the medical care that they receive here is life changing and often (as in Ruthlande’s case) life saving! These kids would not have a chance for help in their home countries, but here there is hope. So, further donations will be gratefully accepted!

Thank you again for all of the generous donations that have already been promised!!

The Hewitts (and Ruthlande too!)

Let's Get This Sweetie Home to Her Mama!

Ruthlande is doing amazingly well and is ready to go home to her mama now, but we need to raise the funds to get her there! We could wait until the end of August and send her with someone, but we really feel like she needs to be home sooner than that – she is definitely attaching to me and I’m afraid that the longer she spends here, the harder the adjustment will be for her when she gets home. A month and a half is a long time in the life of a one-year old! This must all be so confusing for Ruthlande. It’s not as though we can just explain it to her. Sara at COTP has told me many times how much Ruthlande’s mama is missing her and can’t wait for her to be home.

So, I’m going to escort Ruthlande to Haiti myself. I’m sure this will make the trip much less scary for her. Plus, I’ll get the chance to meet her mother and, as a bonus, I’ll get to check in on Noah too. But, we don’t have the money to pay for the whole trip (and Childrens Medical Missions West doesn’t have the money either), so we're doing this on faith. We know God will work it all out!

For flights and hotel, (I’d have to stay in a hotel one night), everything will cost approximately $900. If you feel led to help out with the travel costs, please email me at nicolehewitt @ hotmail . com (leave out the spaces - I couldn't figure out how to use a hyperlink to do this!) Your donation would be made to Children’s Medical Missions and would be tax deductible (check out their site at

Thank you so much for reading this and for prayerfully considering helping Ruthlande go home!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Fun in the Pool

Well, we've had a lot of fun this past week. We finally got some use out of our pool - we opened it a bit late this year because of everything going on. I was so excited to get Ruthlande into the pool. I was really hoping she would like it! Well, she wasn't so sure about it at first, but she warmed up to it pretty quickly. Now, she's a definite pool lover, just like the rest of us! It's been so much fun to see the kids being more and more daring when it comes to swimming in the pool. Danielle's willing to "swim" by herself (with water-wings, of course), Jaden's swimming with his face under water, eyes open (again, with water wings), and Ruthlande went from being scared to being excited about the water in a matter of minutes. I grew up with a pool in my backyard, so there's nothing better to me than family time in the pool!

Jaden's birthday party was yesterday and we all had a lot of fun. Hard to believe my little Buddy's five already! Even harder to believe that Noah is almost three - I'm beginning to doubt we'll have him home before his birthday, which is pretty depressing. I guess I should be used to the delays by now, but I just can't help but be frustrated. Now we might have a problem with getting our I-600 (which is part of the process that happens in the US) and it just feels like we might never bring him home. I just don't know how it got to this point and how new problems seem to crop up just as soon as an old one is solved (or sometimes even before the old problems are solved). I can't help but wonder when it will all end - when will we get our little boy home??

For now, we just wait. And wait. And pray...

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Gimme those fireworks!

Well, party #2 went really well - we had a lot of fun and Ruthlande seemed to do even better than at the last party. Of course, Scott had her in the front carrier for a long time, so she was snug as a bug in a rug in there.

On the way home from the party, we saw some nearby fireworks, so we pulled over into a parking lot to watch them. I was really glad we did because the kiddos really enjoyed them. Ruthlande especially loved them. She kept reaching her arms up toward the sky like she thought she could grab them. Every time a new one would go off she would smile and babble at it. It was so cute! I was afraid that the loud noises might scare her, but she had nothing but love for fireworks! I'm glad she got at least one opportunity to see them in her lifetime!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Party Time!

The month of July is a big month for us. We have lots of family parties going on! We went to the first (a birthday party for our twin neices, who are 10 hours younger than Jaden) yesterday. I was actually very impressed with how well Ruthlande did. She's still a bit wary of strangers. I always remind people that her first two weeks in the US were spent in the hospital, where there were tons of new people coming in and out. Most of those people were there to poke or prod her. It's no wonder she gets nervous when she sees someone new now!

So, the first hour or two of the party, Ruthlande was quiet and a bit nervous. Someone at the party touched her hand and she broke out into instant tears! But, as the party went on, she must have figured out that no one there had any IV tubes or catheters up their sleeves - she relaxed and turned back into her normal, cute self, chattering and smiling away at people. She won their hearts in no time. I even got lots of cute pictures of her sitting in the grass, smiling. Up until yesterday, the words "sitting" and "smiling" did NOT go together - Ruthlande does not typically like it when we sit her up on her own and don't help to support her. So this was a great moment for me (and for her, of course!).

At any rate, I was very happy that she eventually warmed up to the party because we're going to another one on the 4th, we're having a party for Jaden at our house on the 7th and then we're going to a third party for our nephew on the 14th. Guess we'll have her turned into a party girl in no time!

Today was Jaden's actual birthday, so he got to open his presents from our family. Boy, was he excited!! I love this time - I know eventually he's not going to be impressed with anything we give him, but right now he ABSOLUTELY LOVES every gift!! Ah, I wish it could last!