embracing the real me.

I woke up to this beautiful view this morn in southern Cal… 

…kinda wondering why I choose to live in Minnesota…but then again, that is where my people are…so I will enjoy a few days pretending I am once again a California girl.

I am here for work…attending the Council for Exceptional Children Comference…spending my days in workshops and presentations. Spent 6 hours digging into “Co-Teaching 2.0″ today with Marilyn Friend. And spending my lunches and evenings in isolation-eating on my own…thinking, surfing the web, reading…and reaffirming that I am a pretty happy introvert. Savoring time on my own. (We will see how long the feeling lasts….I may be needing a little human interaction by day 5!) 

The older I get, the more comfortable I become in embracing the real me… 

I LOVE learning…taking classes, attending workshops, reading…And I really do need my down time…to be alone.

And that is okay.

mixing work and play.

Bob and I are just wrapping up a week in Haiti…I sit here with a Rebo coffee and a chocolate croissant in the Port au Prince airport, trying to capture the events of the past week.  What fun to finally experience this adventure with my hubby…it is really impossible to explain until you live it on your own.  We have shared many conversations over the past 7 days regarding life, choices, perspectives, poverty, racism, education, family, faith, opportunities, work ethic, aging, gratitude, frustration, hope, joy, America, Haiti….so.much.talking…so.many.questions.

Just as it was impossible for me to explain to him all that I see and feel when I visit…it is so difficult to capture our experience in words here too.  We had the opportunity to spend much of our first day with Gladimy – English Teacher that runs the English Institute as our school…attending church [well over 1,000 in attendance, sitting in stairwells, standing, packed in for the service-yet we were given seats right up front of the congregation.] Visiting the children’s church was a highlight – hundreds of children in a large classroom, spilt by age levels. Bob jumped right in with these little ones – completely in his comfort zone.

Following church and a lunch stop at Epi’dor, we went to Gladimy’s neighborhood of Delmas 24, meeting his father and brothers – such a privilege to meet his family and visit his home. We walked the neighborhood, visiting with boys that had constructed their own kites with sticks and plastic bags, wandering the market filled with goods to purchase-rice, beans, vegetables, and piles of fresh chicken, goat and beef.

Children's ChurchBob making friends

Delmas 24 Gladimy neighborhood

Gladimy family

Visiting Gladimy neighborhood

Kite Flying in Delmas 24

market

Our guest house was lovely – Pastor Ernso and Gina of Eucapyptus Village made us feel so welcomed (relaxing pool and dinner for two on the patio!)…and meeting other guests was an added bonus. Shout out to Team Tassie-Vivien, Trina and Danielle and their connection with Tony Sanneh of the Sanneh Foundation (retired pro soccer player doing great things with soccer players in Cite Soleil with the Haitian Initiative PLUS the students of Saint Paul Public Schools! Love the crazy cool connections that occur when I show up.)

Guest House Dinner

Tony Sanneh

Monday brought us to ANA Primary School. All of my favorite little people showed up! Even though this was Easter Holiday week, they came to see us….with a welcome sign, classroom decorations, songs and recitations! Once again, Teacher Bob was in his element. He met with each class and taught them math games with cards – 7-up, High/Low, War. And while I held a teacher meeting to plan for the June team trip, he lead all 50+ students in Red Light/Green Light, Kaboom, thumb wrestling, and hand clapping games. At one point, Teacher Jonas needed to ask him to “keep it down out there” as the kids were cheering and yelling and laughing so loudly.

Plans were made regarding the hopes and plans for the summer team trip, the year-ed Spektak, the development of a computer lab, expansion of two classrooms for the 15-16 school year. The teachers are hard-working and responsible – seeking to hold students to a high level of rigor, challenging them to succeed. I always leave here humbled, inspired, and anxious to find ways to meet the needs and press on to make our little school a success for these students.

Welcome Sign

Classroom 1

Lovena Jeffka Pwofesa Bob

Classroom 4

learning math games

Math games with cards

Teacher Jonas

Teacher Meeting

Lasseur Ruth

ANA Primary School

Following the work – we took time to play. In recognition of our upcoming 25th wedding anniversary, we chose to relax at the beach (and give the tourism industry at little support!) Wahoo Bay has been a day trip for me several times, so this time we chose to spend a few nights. Owner/Manager Jennifer was darling – taking the time to visit with us. We lounged by the pool, soaking in the ocean breeze, scoring a sweet snorkeling deal with George and Michel for $10 and a fresh grilled crab on the beach for $12! Bob love a good deal! There were scrabble games at sunset and morning runs around the tennis court, as other guests played soccer on the court. We recharged and are ready to face reality again. Until next time! Orevwa!

Wahoo Bay

Snorkeling Friends

heading out to snorkel with Michel

Snorkeling

Negotiating Fresh Seafood

Fresh Grilled Crab

Morning Run

Soccer Players

Sunset Scrabble

Wahoo Rum Punch

 

25 years ago.

Gosh, when I take a moment to reflect on life a quarter of a century ago, Bob and I were living in the hectic pace of our senior year at Jamestown College…planning a wedding…navigating a cross-country move to begin teaching jobs in Southern California. Young and in love-full of hopes and dreams for the future.

Fast forward to the present…deep into new jobs this year-grade 3 for Bob-special education admin for me…supporting our daughter and her fiancé in their wedding plans…and heading to Haiti this week to do a little work and celebrate our upcoming anniversary with a few days at the beach.

A little bit older, but still deeply in love-full of hopes and dreams for the future.

Here’s to an adventurous spring break ahead…and to sharing the journey for nearly 25 years. Wonder what the next 25 will bring?

savor.

In just a week, Shauna Niequist’s new book will be released…Savor.  I will be eagerly checking the mailbox, as a pre-orderer, the book ought to be arriving very soon.  If you haven’t had the chance to sample any of Shauna’s books, please do…Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet and Bread and Wine.  She shares pieces of her heart – the real, raw deal – filled with warmth and charm.  I had the opportunity to preview and review her past two books – read about them here and here.

And to top it all off, Shauna shares her recipes!  My B’studs – a group of dear ladies that I meet every Monday morn at 6 am to share life’s burdens and joys, as we connect over a bible study or book discussion – took a stab at some of those recipes last week.  Oh my. Bon gou! Delicious!  There is something sweet about the gathering of friends around a dinner table.

Stephanie and Laurie provided crackers, cheese and olives. I do believe there should be olives at ALL dinner parties.

Nan made the Bacon wrapped-goat cheese figs.  I could have probably stopped right there.  So satisfied!

bacon wrapped goat cheese stuffed figsMimi made Brannon’s Caesar Salad – light and fresh and lemony. Shirley baked the Sullivan Street Bread – in fact, she even baked a second loaf in fear we may not like it. But we did!! (Sorry – Sooo busy eating that I missed pics.)

Krissy made the Steak au Poivre with Cognac Pan Sauce. Who knew you could made a steak in a pan?  I thought they had to be grilled!?! Oh and the sauce. Yum!

Steak au Poivre with Cognac Pan SauceAmy made Basic Risotto – but she never really follows a recipe when she cooks, so there were extras in her version…mushrooms and plenty of cheese…creamy goodness.

Basic Risotto

I chose to bake the Blueberry Crisp for dessert.  I am not gonna lie – baking a crisp without butter and sugar made me nervous.  Maple syrup? Olive oil? But it was amazing!  We ate it straight up with no whipped cream…in fact I could have eaten it for breakfast! Loved the crunchy oatmeal pecan topping.

blueberry crispGather your people…dig out some recipes…pour a glass of wine and savor the good things in life.  We did all of this on a week night…following a crazy day at work…and returning to real life the next morn.  Think what could be done on a Saturday?

Bread and Wine

But I do want you to love what you eat, and to share food with people you love, and to gather people together, for frozen pizza or filet mignon, because I think the gathering is of great significance.

All recipes can be found in Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.

 

giving thanks.

Today I am giving thanks for so many sweet blessings.

I am excited for the two little boys that are ready to travel [and who have been in the adoption stage for a mighty long time.] Paperwork has been finalized.  Farewells and thank yous were given to their Nurse/Nanny Miss Nahomie and many others who have loved on them over the past years. The boys are enjoying this evening in a Port au Prince hotel before flying out tomorrow.

MissNahomie

I am thrilled that my husband has booked our 25th Wedding Anniversary vacation to the tropical location of Port-au-Prince! Oo La La!

I am grateful for the people of Woodbury Community Church that will be traveling with Team Kozefò in June.  We had our first prep meeting this past weekend and the anticipation of spending time with these folks and my pals in Haiti is just too much to imagine!

I feel humbly blessed by the generosity of family and friends that have sponsored ALL 54 students this year! Such a sweet gift to provide education for these boys and girls!

StudentIsadora

I am tickled by the adventures that I share with my pal Geftè!  Who knew that biking in the winter time is a real thing? And puzzles too – we just started our second 1000 piece masterpiece!

Hanging out with G

Tis a good life.  Thankful, Grateful, Blessed.

still dreaming.

Today we honor Martin Luther King Jr. who boldly spoke truth and stood for justice…who shared his dream with the world.  And yet today we are still dreaming of that day when justice becomes a reality for all of God’s children. Day after day, experiences of incredulous injustices occur across the world…and in our own communities, schools and neighborhoods.  At times, these situations that we encounter seem way too large to begin changing, and yet if we each take courage to speak truth and stand up for the things that matter, lives can change…they do change.

MLK_justice

In a little over a week, two more little dudes from our Primary School/Orphanage in Haiti will be arriving. Geftè arrived near Christmas on a student visa, living just a neighborhood away…Stanley and Davinsly will be rolling into my small little world next week – following their 2-1/2 year adoption process…all attending the same little community church I do. And so I continue to dream for these boys and for others – for a life filled with love, opportunities, freedom, kindness, patience, generosity and justice. Thank you Dr. King.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

GeftèStanleyVinny

free evenings.

I am relishing in the new found freedom of free evenings!  No class for me!  After a year of taking three classes at a time, I am now a free woman!  Evenings without class…without homework…without some silly reading or assignment hanging over my head.  I feel like I have discovered a sweet new life!

Tonight there was a visit to my pal Gefte’s house…I mean my friend Amy’s house.  There was cooking…like real cooking…chopping, sauteing, stirring and simmering!  A glass of wine…or two.  Chats with friends. American Idol. Travel planning for a weekend in Dallas.  Good stuff.

And Facebook…oh Facebook!  Totally got the giggles over this post AND the comments…check her out…Kristin Howerton (Facebook stalker that I am…do not even know her…but there is a connection to Haiti, so I feel like she is my pal…virtual friends-cyber mates) You can also read her witty words here: http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/

Cheers Friends!  Thanks for sticking with me through 12 months of crazy school life.  Look out!  I am back!

Kristen Howerton

name change