I don't have great shots... BUT... these three kids call Holt and I their American mother and father so I thought I better mention them because they ARE a part of our family!!
You can't see it well and I'll post her next picture but this is Slivia.... she is from Zambia.
Holt "adopted" Slivia before we were married so she became part of my life when I started writing to her. Many times it's hard to get involved in these organizations because you don't know where your money is going. Holt was on the Board of World Vision, so this one felt ok. Little did I know, I'd get hand written letter, photos, pictures from this sweet girl that lives so very far away.
Here is my little guy...Duvan. Duvan is from Columbia.
His picture is up-to-date and that is the one I currently have on my desk at work. He's struggling a bit in school but I know his parents are staying on top of things. We too write every few of months (by the time you write, it gets over there and translated, then the same thing back to you...)
I'll post the next letters they send so you can see. What always amazes me most is ... for Christmas, they get a blanket, some shoes, a notepad, soap, toothpaste - ya know... the stuff we take for granted... and they are SO thankful - they feel SO blessed. It's sad to look at my life, at my closet and realize how pathetic I am when I don't have all that I WANT... versus the basic necessities in life. Shame on me.
And finally, this is Josephine Namu. Josephine is from Uganda.
Josephine is our most recent "kid" and she was stuck... no way to go to college. Deb learned about her in the process of getting her daughter from an orphanage in Uganda. I have her email and I'll get getting to know her through that. Unlike Compassion International or World Vision, she doesn't have a "sponsor" but Holt and I were looking for something to do with out tithe... and when we heard that the amount we were asking God what to do with was the SAME as her entire SEMESTER at college... we knew.
So, that's that... Josephine is off to college!!! HURRAY!!! We also had another month of tithes (we are searching for a new church) so we took care of her second semester too! HURRRRAAAAAAAAAY!!! We asked her what she wanted if she could have anything and she said a USB. REALLY? That's it... I had 3 extra at work so that took care of that - wow! Now we are trying to find a used laptop to send her off with.
I'm not telling anyone this to get a pat on the back, no, no, no.. in fact, biblically we are to do these things in "secret" and not seek the glory of "man" but I wanted Tristan to know of her... I wanted YOU to know of her...and encourage you to ask God who YOU can help.
Soooo T... meet your siblings that God assigned! For the rest of you... say hi to your other family!
Love, Holt, Julie, Tristan, Slivia, Josephine, Duvan, Alsan, Simba and for this week... Penny :)
Tristan is sick again. Ugh. They are testing him for whooping cough but don't think he has it. DOUBLE Ugh! Apparently all of the "brilliant" people out there who choose not to vaccinate their kids brought something back that has been gone for a long time. To each his own and I don't want to judge but when it threatens the life of my child, I'm angry.
I struggle... a lot these days. I struggle with wondering is my house clean enough? Do I wash my/his hand enough? Is daycare really ok for him at this age? Am I a good enough mom? Do I have good boundaries? Am I too tough? Tough enough? Does he eat enough (forget veggies... I'm still processing "enough" in general), etc. etc. etc.....
It's really, really hard for me. I broke down today and bawled my eyes out. My dogs licked away the tears... kind of sweet actually. They knew something was wrong and instinctively "mothered" me. Then Holt came in and just hugged me while I bawled. lack of sleep doesn't usually work in my favor and this proved it.
Tristan, I want you to know that not a day goes by that I don't contemplate my daily life and how it effects you. Do I shelter you from the world or do I share with you? Will you be sad that you didn't have a sibling? Should we have another baby because of how great YOU are and two have TWO...wow. but I realize, there is no guarantee - we could get one like ME (God help us). Plus, who can afford the diapers and dayare? Should I go after my own business hard and fast so I can spend more time with you and less time babying two grown men? When you hear me swear - does it sink into your little soul (ugh)? Do I shelter you enough from second hand smoke,or should I let you see it and then explain to you why it's so bad and what it can do? Do I promote exercise enough because Mommy doesn't make healthy choices all the time.... How do I explain to you that you have a (kind of) step-brother and step-sister that you most likely won't see and that Mommy was married for a long time before she met Daddy and is *GULP* ....divorced? YUCK. How do I give you a good balance of faith but then allow you to choose for yourself because that's what God wants? Silly things like... is that shirt warm enough and do I really know that the thermometer isn't broken and that you feel "warm" in my head or because you've been running around in circles for hours? Do I enroll you in soccer AND football or do I worry that you'll get hurt and just encourage you to draw and skip sports (we all know the answer to that one) - maybe I'll encourage you to do all AND sing, AND play an instrument AND...AND...AND....????????
I could write 100 paragraphs on what goes back and forth in my mind day in and day out. I guess the purpose of this is....I love you. I love you - you and your daddy are first with me. I mess up...constantly... but I want you to SEE that. I don't want you to think you have a perfect life or perfect parents. I'm not going to raise you in anything but the truth because I truly believe that "sheltering" does more harm than good.
So, as you are downstairs, sound asleep.... I won't wake you to take your meds that Daddy just got from the pharmacy, I won't wrap you in a bubble and take you out of daycare to keep "more" germs away. But I will pray for you and take care of ME... because a healthy me is the best gift I can offer.
I love you my sweet boy... (your Italian/Cimildora clan/worrying) Mommy
Soooo, I decided that Tristan gets "me" stuff on his blog too. He can totally look back and see that I wasn't boring and that I "lived"... so here you go Nugget...Mommy and her Ya-Ya's!!
Here's Tracy, me and Debbie.... we have been together since we were FIVE (a whoppin' 20 years... hee, hee, hee)... not many can say that, huh?
Apparently they liked close-ups...
Ya-Ya Lisa and Jenny... Frankie & Benny Jell to us...
Me, Lisa and finally - one with Treva....
The gang at an outside jazz place.
We were quietly sitting there (and no I'm not lying...we were quiet)
they were so sweet... but as you know... when you are in the front row, that doesn't last long..
So Jen and Chrissy started dancing....
then they played New York, New York and we ALL got up and started dancing...we proudly sang and kicked those legs up high. Then the night began. Camera flashes were going, people were clapping and cheering us on. Doesn't take much to get us started!!
But then, like a cool breeze... he called this sweet little old lady up to sing and she sang a song she always sings at church. It was sweet...
So after a bit, we left and headed to... HOWL AT THE MOON!! I HIGHLY suggest duelling piano bars...they ROCK. I've been to many and this one was pretty good....
Other than the freaky chick that I swear was on meth... she loved her pink hair... and when she got up to sang... OUCH... THAT was B-A-D! Frankie... "her hair was puuuuuuuuuurple" LOL!
I must say - being back in a bar that allows cigarettess was BRUTAL. I swear I smoked at least 3 packs and I'm STILL coughing!! NASTY!!
Poolsie at one point came back laughing hysterically from the bathroom... she went to pee and suddenly...her beer was missing...uh oh....
She fessed up and gave the lady "manning the bathroom" a little extra cash and said... sorry! it just fell in!!
This dude sooo looked like John Mayer and he was very talented. Little cutie. Debbie ended up on stage with him. And the other guy bought Treva a shot. But, can't say anything else... what happens on Ya-Ya trips... stays.... on Ya Ya trips!
This is the view from our window. Not bad....
Can you see the casino? Also the "W" is there... that's Balfour Hotel that we built... I felt "at home" hee, hee
Got up the next day and hit Magazine Street and the garden district. We took the trolley. Had to show Poolsie that there really IS something beautiful about 'Nawlins....
Not me of course... no makeup - scary!
The girls were a little feisty and wouldn't let me take many pics....
see...can't you see they are annoyed?
Soooo, I went on Facebook and uploaded this picture. I told everyone we were picking up Poolsie! Ha! Would have been much more believable if I said me and Jenny!!
My mom did mention something about not being able to afford bail for ALL of us!!!
Sat night we headed out for dinner. It was freeeeeeeeeeeeeeezing in there. I turn around and Jen has a tablecloth for a shawl... she scored!!! If we had stayed another 5 minutes I would have done the same. We decided to leave though..the amount of bread that was consumed could have fed half of Italy!
Sooo,we hit Bourbon Street. Ya know "the" street in NOLA. Apparently we had some "friends" to meet up with and they said 541. So we went...and found the hotel at 541 Bourbon. Bourbon is where you rent the room and you get beads to hand out. Bubba... you can find out what those are for when you are older :)
Anyway, the only way to get into any of these hotels is to show your ID and your room key. So I thought.. 7 girls it's worth a shot. So I accidentally pulled out my room key and they waved us in. I was surprised to find out that our key was the same as that hotel key (red and white) and they didn't realize we didn't have rooms there!
So, we went up, couldn't find our friends...and then just invited ourselves onto someone's deck. It was interesting to say the least....
1am came quickly and 5 of us had to be up at 5am to head home. THREE of us were smart... we got 4 hours of sleep. The others... well, they got about 30 minutes. :) That's all I'm sayin'!
You can't see it very well but this is a wedding... it was SO cool.. they all walk the streets.. full band, trumpets blazing.. it was amazing!
This last picture is cut off.. and I'll have a better one soon...
but it says YA-YA's... (don't mind the Hustler sign)
So of course, we begged our way into a photo op.
It was an awesome trip to a very, VERY nasty city. There is however, life there (finally). I went to Waveland about 4 years ago and not much has changed but a dying city is coming back to life.
I have mixed feelings.. It's like Sodom and Gomorrah - it's nasty...but there is a beauty to it too. I could do without the gators... they freak - me - out! The jazz however - I love...the people, are sweet (as long as you aren't alone and you stay in the right part of town). So while that won't be a place I probably every go to again - for the 3rd time in my life... it was fun.
but then again, I'm with my girls. I could have fun in a paper bag. Sure wish Nancy and Karen had come. One of these blue moons.. the Ya-Yas will be back in full force.
Next year for our 40th.... Turks and Caicos baby!!!