Monday, October 29, 2007

week-end in Portland part - II

After a lovely breakfast at the Comfort Inn in Seaside we drove back to Cannon Beach. The reason we returned to Cannon Beach was to watch the artists at Icefire Studio. I found this studio last March on a business trip. At that time I purchased a small blue and green vase to add to my china hutch as a reminder of my Portland trip.

Before we left, I was agonizing over which piece to buy to add to my collection -- and the sales women working there realized my pain. Instead of helping, she told me she had another piece that Jim Kingwell had just finished that she thought I might like. She retrieved it from the back room and sure enough.......I loved it! Of course, I immediately told her I thought it might break the bank! Because I had been admiring one similar to it in blues and greens and it was $500! She said, "let me check with Jim, he is very reasonable". Ok, up to this point I had my eye on a bowl that was $140 and I thought for sure she would come back and tell me the price would be somewhere between $400 and $500 dollars! Instead she said $250! is a picture of it! It looks great in the hutch......and I love the combination of orange and pink glass twisting together!

Watching them work was fascinating!

Of course, we couldn't leave the coast without one more walk on the beach. Katiana wasn't interested because it was windy and cold again. Look at how angry the sea was! It had been very stormy with high winds the day before we arrived. I love the sea!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A week-end in Portland - part I

We went to Portland! Mark, Katiana and me. Our purpose? The Holt Fontana Auction to raise money for the village in Haiti. I don't have the exact number yet but our educated guess is Holt raised approximately $150,000.00 Wahoo! I will write more about that in part III.

We arrived around 10:00 a.m. on Friday. Our plan was to drive out to the coast and stay a night allowing us to explore the Oregon coast on Friday and Saturday before the big event Saturday evening.

We rented our car, got some McDonald's, drove in and out of lots of rain while working our way out highway 6 - which dumped us right at the Tillamook Cheese Plant! We took a self guided tour of the cheese plant....which includes samples! Yummy. Of course they do more than cheese :) So, loaded with our driving snacks (beef sticks, cheese curds and water crackers) we decided to also *sample* the ICE CREAM before we hit the road.

The picture below is along highway 101 between Tillamook and Cannon Beach! It was cold, very windy and absolutely beautiful!

We made it to Cannon Beach driving in and out of LOTS of rain! Fortunately our beach time was free from rain! was COLD and WINDY!!! We were trying to get a good picture of us with the rocks in the background........and, well - we just got this one instead - HAIR everywhere!
So we bagged the rocks and let the wind blow in our face instead!

This is one of my "do it myself pictures"! Not bad huh? You can't even tell I'm holding my arm out and taking a picture!

OK.....I just love this picture! Katiana has that smile and laugh that speaks volumes! I think the cold, the wind and the fact that we were "willingly" out exploring in it amused her!
Love the light in this fabulous picture! Mark kept teasing Katiana about her hair standing up! too cute!

Katiana has a way of making friends. She just walks up and smiles and instantly perfect strangers are asking if she would like to feed the birds too.

Ok......that was a bit CLOSE! All the while, I'm praying she doesn't get a yucky white "you know what" on her new coat -- or worse in her HAIR!

So much JOY!!!
This was a miracle.....for sure I thought the camera was going to be blown off the rock and in the sand!
Haystack rock at Cannon Beach, OR

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

a trip to the zoo...

...the kids had a short fall break from school so we took advantage of the warm weather and went to Hogle Zoo! We had a great time! It was so much fun to see Katiana's reaction to all of the animals! Here are some of our favorite pictures....

elephants and giraffes...and Zac's beloved penguins....Katiana and Marisa's favorite was the baby Orangutan...
I cheated and pulled this cute photo from Wikipedia because we couldn't get a good shot of the cute baby orangutan that entertained us at Hogle Zoo.

very cute sisters....
All the kids....(minus Steven but adding cousin Amber) posing pretty with the giant ape!

uh..ooh...starting to act like... ape
They were convincing me that maybe they should LIVE here too!

We ended the day with a train ride, some silly souveniers and Marisa losing her cell phone in the duck pond! Yes, it was retrieved.....and unbelievably it still works!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


...has been on my mind and heart daily over the past several weeks. First, gratitude to my Heavenly Father for my many blessings! I can not list my blessings because there are simply too many (and my kids will be home from school in 30 minutes!).

I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I ponder my many blessings. My family ranks very high on my list of blessings. My heart is full and tears come to my eyes as I watch how well each member of my family is adjusting to having Katiana home. I have seen the Lord's hand almost daily as we make adjustments. Every member of the Hixon family has stepped up and caught the spirit of our *new* family! For this I am unable to properly express my gratitude - it fills my heart with joy.

Gratitude for my family and friends who have reached out to us. Visits, phone calls, help, gifts - gifts from family and friends Katiana has never met --- when I explain a package that has arrived in the mail for her from a *friend* she hasn't yet met.......she lights up! I KNOW she understands she has family and friends that love her and are expressing their love with gifts.

Gratitude for neighbors. Neighbors who have welcomed her with such warmth. Neighbor kids who greet her at school and look after her (and track down the mean boys who squirted her with water in ceramics class....come to find out, it was an accident....but that didn't stop one of the neighbor boys from hauling the two culprits over to Marisa who was ready to give them both a good fonging!) And for another neighbor who helped us *forget* the hard day at school by having us over and teaching us how to make jewelry - LOTS of jewelry for all of us! What a fun way to turn lemons into lemonade!

Gratitude for people in our community. Dr. Clayton who convinced Katiana that Doctors are "tres gentile", Our friends who work at the Jr. High school who helped get her in all the right classes, a new friends mom who offered to come to school and translate during Ceramics class - all because her daughter has taken an interest in Katiana and knew her Mom speaks French.

Gratitude for Mansour Masse and Holt International for providing a safe and loving home for Katiana and for the good work they do around the world for those who are so deserving of help....and of course, for helping us navigate our way through a very difficult adoption process. Gratitude for all the housemoms who loved and taught Katiana over the past 10 years. Gratitude for Betty and Phil Snyder and Mission Possible and GLOW Ministries that also influenced Katiana's sweet attitude and for the work they do for so many others in Haiti. Gratitude for her birth parents who loved her and found a safe place for her to receive that which they struggled to give her.

Gratitude for ALL who picked up their phones and called on our behalf when we were denied her visa. Gratitude to those who were able to push things even more after we encountered the bad man in Haiti! I know good people I never met helped encourage the visa office in Washington D.C. on our behalf (of course, THANK YOU to a certain brother and an executive at Holt for their influence on this gov't office!)

Gratitude for our good friends in Haiti - at Holt Fontana and Foyer de Sion for their kindness and support. For their commitment to the children of Haiti. For their determination in bringing about positive change for Haiti. YOU inspire me to be better and instill in me a desire to do more. And....I am greatly blessed because I now have another beautiful daughter and she has this amazing Haitian spirit! AND I will soon be blessed with two more beautiful children who are equally bright in spirit. When I ponder the blessing of makes the struggle of bringing them home pale in comparison. I am very blessed. For this I thank my Father in Heaven every day.

The moment I post this it will be outdated because my gratitude grows. Thank you all - my heart is full as I continue to witness the many blessings that are working together to bless our family.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Two week update...

...I can't believe it has only been two weeks since we have been home from Haiti!!! Katiana had a house full of family and friends to greet her. These two pictures were taken at the neighborhood park the day we arrived home!

The day after we got home (Saturday) we went to the mall to find her some shoes to wear with her pretty pink dress......the one I bought for her LAST December! Thank goodness it fits - because she looks so pretty in pink! I think the mall was a bit overwhelming! At least it was for me.

We spent a week together - just the two of us! We visited the Doctor, shopped, tried new food, registered for school and learned to ride a bicycle! Katiana is full of adventure! Well, with most everything....except FOOD! She is being a bit stubborn about trying new things! I think she has issues with texture.....because the mashed potatoes and marshmallows were a definite NO! Of course, every time we catch her eating french fries, potato chips, hashbrowns, etc., we make sure to tell her she is eating POTATOES! Ha, ha, ha.....she is a good sport about it. The night we went to dinner at the Brick Oven restaurant - she ordered the buffet. She was able to eat all she wanted from the salad bar and soup and pasta bar. We all started off with salads and when we got back to the table - Mark said "don't look now but someone dished up potato salad! She ate it too!

One night we had a really yummy chicken dish - one our family all loves! It has sour cream, cream cheese, cream of chicken soup and italian dressing mix. We eat it over rice most of the time and it is just yummy! I worried Katiana might find it too rich so I dished her up some rice without covering it with the sauce and set the chicken on the side. She refused to try it. We all went to work trying to convince her it was "gooood" but she wasn't buying it! So finally, after telling her to "try" it in Creole over and over.....I said (with a smile) "no try, no bicycle". She is so expressive and just couldn't stand the thought of no bicycle so in went the chicken and in went a bite of rice.....and before I knew it she was handing her plate to me for seconds! After dinner, she made sure the little bit of sauce from the crockpot was eaten before she brought me the dish to wash!

She loves pizza, hamburgers and soda pop. One morning she tried to have soda pop and potato chips for breakfast! Good thing I was there.....because I quickly let her know that wasn't a good breakfast!!! She got orange juice and waffles instead! She is mostly stubborn in the morning. I have made french toast and pancakes -- both of which she ate at the Kaliko with me in Haiti. She refuses to eat them - so that leaves her to choose between frozen waffles or cereal. Last Thursday when she refused the pancakes for a second time (and I even offered them with strawberries and sugar!) she ended up with some frozen waffles......and as she was eating them - I looked at her with a little smile and said "pancakes are better than waffles" she smiled back and I'm certain she knows exactly what I was communicating. Funny girl - testing me with food! What she doesn't know for sure yet is......Mom is MORE stubborn :)

We are discovering that she understands quite a few things in English. In fact, she probably has been laughing at us all along because we overly try to help her understand our English. I know it is really lame.....but when you don't know what else to do - you begin saying your words slow with stupid facial expressions like somehow that will make her understand better! I'm pretty sure she has been amused by all of it! She is pretty smart and a tease too! So......she fits in perfectly around here!

She surprised me the other day when the kids made some good old Kraft mac and cheese. I asked her if she wanted some and without hesitation -she dished it up and ate it up- as if she had eaten mac and cheese a hundred times before! So whats the deal? - is mac and cheese the universal kid food? I didn't get the impression they had it at the Holt Fontana Village.....but perhaps they do! seems all I have been talking about is food.....but it seems to be pretty important to her! She has mentioned on more than one occasion that she doesn't want to get fat. So.....another good reason she can't have soda and chips for breakfast! :) I'm not quite sure of the foundation of her worries - but I'm sure as we begin to communicate better we will better understand a lot of things!

Speaking of communication! Her second week home - she started school! I had planned to play things by "ear" and realized we would probably drive each other crazy if she didn't get going to school soon. She is so eager to learn and I am so proud of her! We went together to the Jr. High on her first three days of school. I must say - she is very brave to "jump in" like she has. I came home thankful I didn't have to face the hallways of the Jr. High everyday! Wow! At least I was overwhelmed ....and the LUNCHROOM - now that IS scary! Anyway, she attended her first week and after she spent an afternoon and evening trying to learn decimals and place values.....we decided she needed to hold off on math and focus on English. So she has more *fun* classes like, choir, ceramics, p.e., english, and a FOODS class. I love that she is in a FOODS class - now her teacher and peers can try and get her to eat new things!

Today (Sunday) we went for a drive in the mountains to see the changing leaves and the SNOW! Yesterday as the snow was beginning to coat the mountain she said the mountain looked like "cookies and cream". Well, I guess having cookies and cream ice cream three times in two weeks has something to do with it! Before the drive, Mark helped her make a batch of brownies because yesterday I caught her in the pantry "eyeing" the brownie mix!

I will close with this beautiful picture taken in Haiti. Life in Utah is beautiful too....and I loved when Katiana said to me just a couple of days ago, while driving in the car "mom, Utah is pretty". Yes, it is and so is Haiti! "Pretty" can be found anywhere if you just know how to look for it! Katiana is such a delightful young girl! She has an amazing attitude and is full of life. We all feel very blessed she is finally home! She was so cute about one week home, she was sitting on the stairs alone and I asked her if she was sad. She nodded yes and I asked "why?" She threw her head back with a smile and said "I don't know". I'm sure she was missing her friends in Haiti - so we talked about that and I tried to help her understand it was "ok" to be sad and happy too. She really does have a sweet spirit about her! We feel very blessed and all are well here at the Hixon home!

Monday, October 1, 2007

part VI - favorite pictures...

...of all of us in Haiti!!!

part V - favorite pictures...

...of Steven while in Haiti!

Steven is so good with little kids! Marie and Roberto had so much fun with him!

Steven meeting Katiana!

Steven *enjoying the sounds of music* as the children at the Holt Fontana village performed for him!

Steven also *enjoyed* his new "do"! well as the "squishy" car rides!

part IV - favorite pictures...

of Marisa while in Haiti... She loves this little guy!

Marisa had a cool hair style going at the Kaliko!

Exhausted at the El Rancho Hotel... too tired to actually get in the pool and swim!