in love and awe.

This past Wednesday our baby boy Jude Avery was born and we are onto the next chapter as a family of THREE (plus a few fur babies). We couldn’t be happier or more in love with him, and we definitely can’t stop staring at him and at each other in awe and disbelief that this little man is ours. Jude, we love you so much!!!

My water broke at 3am and after calling the hospital, we showed up around 4. Jude, though, kept us waiting until 6:53pm when he was born and we were able to love on him. Delivery was SUPER easy though (like literally two rounds of pushing total) so I’m grateful for that in addition to a very healthy boy who has passed all tests with flying colors. In a few hours we’ll be discharged and then we get to bring him home to meet his fur-brothers.

Jude, thank you for making us parents. We couldn’t be more excited to have you if we tried.

those days when you get yourself down

Some days are easier than others, for sure. I’ll have bouts of undiagnosed depression every now and then. Usually, at my own expense…I oftentimes feel as if I put all I am into relationships and work and if I still think it’s not enough, or if something is said, or I fear being hurt or abandoned, it’s easy for that depression to sneak up on me and take me down. And right now, the hormones are getting to me!!!

Pregnancy, so far, has been pretty easy for me (thankfully–I know many pregnancies are not that way!) but when it’s rough, when the emotions come, they come in like a tidal wave. Today is one of those days, where every little thing, even the supportive and sweet words from my amazing husband, feels overwhelming and I break down and cry for basically no reason other than hormones. We have a lot going on! We just moved a week or two ago (all. the. boxes.) and we have a puppy and hello pregnancy and we’ve only been married for like six weeks! And it’s SO easy to just let the tidal wave become a tsunami of negativity and self-doubt and unworthiness and brokenness. Been there, done that (more like being there, doing that)…but we just have to keep going. Today, that means listening to Adam and taking a bath (with a bath bomb, obvs), drinking sparkling white grape juice, and watching sitcoms. Right now, it’s self-love time and putting myself and this little guy first (and Adam, when he gets home from work).

working towards adulthood.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m an adult. I dance and sing along to boy bands fairly regularly, my eyes get big and I squeal “OH MY GOSH (S)HE’S SO CUTE!!!!” when I see a cute animal, and I “pin” all the time. But here I am, almost 25 and I am an adult. I lived abroad for nine months, I’ve been with my company for three and a half years, I live with my boyfriend, and I manage my money (pretty well anyway…I am still a 24-year-old millennial with a–slightly lessening–addiction to Amazon and Target!). Within the last month or two, I have gone from having zero savings accounts to two with pretty good balances, which are funded by my paychecks and various apps (I CANNOT recommend Qapital enough!!!), and remain untouched by me except for when I manually add more to them. I spent my entire tax refund on paying off a chunk of my student loans instead of hitting up the mall. It’s not easy–I’m so used to spending anything and everything in my bank account on clothes and makeup and stuff that I honestly don’t need. I spent one of my days off watching money management videos on YouTube and found a few things that I’ve implemented.

One video introduced me to the app Qapital, which basically has you hook up a card or two and the you set up savings “rules” to work towards as many goals as you want. These “rules” can be anything from setting a social media status to meeting your step goal on a Fitbit to rounding up whatever you purchase with the card to “pinning” to a board or all of them (mine is hooked up to one that’s relating to my goal). This is my favorite way to save because it’s mindless in the best possible way. You set the values of the rules (however much is saved for each rule) and it’s so easy to save towards the goals. It also shows you how much of the goal you’ve met, which for me is a really nice motivator and makes me feel more accomplished.

Another video had the female host break down all of her spending for a year into four categories: bills, stuff, food, and experiences. I added income as another category to get the full picture. It took a while to go through all of my online statements for my primary card for each month for 2017, but it was so worth it! I realized how much I spent on Starbucks (spoiler: I told Adam beforehand it would be probably $1,500 on Starbucks alone and it was less than a hundred dollars from that 😬😩🤭😮) and other silly purchases. 💸💸💸 It also seems to be a miracle I ended up in the black instead of red for the year. I put it all into Numbers (my iPads version of Excel) and added it up then put it into a pie chart so I could actually see the breakdown. It was so enlightening! Definitely recommend this! Now I just want to do this with Adam’s (he isn’t great with money so I’m working on getting us both in check).

Don’t get me wrong: I still get Starbucks every now and then (thanks to the Keurig I got for Christmas, I only get it once a month or so instead of once or twice a day) and I still get impulse purchases from Amazon and Target, but I do try to be more conscious of where my money is going. Having real goals is helping with this for sure!

Hope you’re proud, dad! Your little girl is trying to get a handle on money!

operation no control

Driving towards Klipsch, I realized that I might have been as, if not more, excited as I was for my first-ever concert. I love all concerts, but I was particularly pumped to be going to Green Day for a variety of reasons.

Seeing a truly iconic band live out the songs I grew up with was everything I wished for and more. When I bought my first MP3 player (pre-iPod), Holiday and Wake Me Up When September Ends were two of maybe five songs I actually listened to on it (I literally remember downloading Wake Me Up When September Ends on iTunes on my dad’s old Dell in my parents’ room).  I remember feeling so cool and edgy and just screaming the lyrics every time they came on–not that I really had a clue what the gorgeous and meaningful lyrics meant. Green Day made me feel like I was in good company no matter what I was feeling or going through. They still do! They were my first exposure towards the whole punk-rock genre. I love how they don’t care what people think. They’re tough, feisty, unrestrained, bold, unpredictable, undefined, rule breakers and leaders instead of followers, statement-making and outspoken, all things I think I wish I could be sometimes!

Speaking of statement-making and outspoken, the band is fairly well known for responding to events with music and otherwise (see: Holiday, 21 Guns, American Idiot, and Revolution Radio, just to name a few…)I was looking forward to their response to the recent social and political events and views. I actually didn’t realize how much I was looking forward to this until I was in the lawn waiting for the show to begin. I was far from disappointed! “I’m looking for a little bit of moral truth…….last time I checked, this is the 21st fucking century, man. Take your bullshit somewhere else. We know tonight, we know what we’re about. We know what kind of message we’re going to spread, and that’s about fucking unity, I’ll tell ya that right now. I’ll tell ya something else, this is all about human fucking dignity and everybody fucking deserves it.” He then started singing “Hey Jude” and it was perfect.

Here’s to you, Green Day. Thanks for an amazing night of badassery I’ll never forget! I can’t wait to see you next time!!!

things are about to get fishy…

…because I’m headed over to the seafood department at work! I was recently pulled aside by my manager who told me, among other things that made me feel warm and fuzzy, I am being promoted to not only key holder (aka I’ll be able to open and close the store without a manager being present), but I’m also being promoted to seafood specialist (aka seafood manager)!!! I AM SO TERRIFIED AND ANXIOUS BUT PSYCHED AND DANCEY AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN! Let me break it down for ya:

-as soon as they find a replacement for me in my current position (assistant front end manager), I’ll head back to seafood to get trained by the current manager (who is moving to meat department) and my store manager (who used to work in the seafood department). I also hope to shadow a seafood specialist at another location to gain additional perspective and tips, since everyone does things differently.

-I’ve never actually worked in the seafood department officially! I’ve gone over to help when they’re busy more times than I can count, but by no means do I know even half of what I’ll be expected to. I like to think I’m a quick learner and I’ll do what it takes to ensure the best quality is provided to both our customers as well as my coworkers and company.

-I’ll be overseeing the seafood staff of about three or four people, but seafood and meat employees interlink (meat has maybe four or five?), so for many tasks, I’ll be working in cooperation with the meat manager. Our staffs will work in both departments, but will open or close in their primary one only along with knowing a little more about how things are prepared in that one, etc. I will also be doing inventories, writing orders, and making sure corporate and legal policies are being followed accordingly.

-One of the several reasons I’m being elevated to this role is to increase sales. They’ve been steady, but my boss and his boss think I can raise them and increase our numbers across the board. To do this, I’ll create goals and work on making sure some key focuses are being implemented, all while trying to not totally revamp the entire department and throw everyone off all at once.

-Another reason I am being sent there is so challenge me and give me practice for where I hope to be (which is also where my boss and his boss want me to be)…assistant store manager! Time will tell!

I’m super excited and nervous but either way, I’m ready for new things! Good vibes would be appreciated! 🙂

for discovery.

It’s been months since I’ve written anything. I haven’t known what to write until now (and even this is going to be in true Abby fashion in that it’s basically word vomit to come…and a ton of ellipses). But I’ve been trying to figure out who I am and how I have arrived at this current version of me. I think I’ve pinpointed one specific moment, but here’s where I’m at right now with regards to who/what I want to be:

  • To be stronger…to embody my favorite quote: “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”
  • To even know what my hopes, dreams, etc are…all I know at this point is I want to be a wife and mother more than anything but that isn’t enough, at least by society’s standards…at least I feel like I need to have something to tide me over til that point
  • To have my thoughts and reality more aligned
  • Freedom…from my past, my anger, my depression, society’s ideals…
  • Community of some kind…I lost all that and with that, a major part of who I am/was
  • To learn to trust but not give my whole heart and self…find balance within
  • To figure out who I am, not who I have been molded to be and molded to want to be
  • To slow down and not go all in from the get go

Two of those are particularly what I want to work towards achieving: “to learn to trust but not give my whole heart ands self…find balance within” and “to slow down and not go all in from the get go.” I like to think I’m getting better at the second one, but that’s just me. With this guy I’m interested in and may or may not be seeing (?????), I’m not getting as…invested? That sounds terrible, but like I can’t think of the right word. I’m not jumping ahead. And that’s a MAJOR milestone for me!!!! Slowing down is exactly what I need, so I think that’s a good sign?

I’ve been hurt by giving my all and I don’t know how many more times I can get back up from the pain. Hopefully working towards these goals will help with that while also helping me heal a bit more. I know I have a good support system (small but mighty), so thanks to them, I think I’ll be okay in the long run. I mean, I have to be, right? Peace and love, friends.

Oh, and GO PATS!!!!!

🎶 I had the best day with you today 🎶

I leave tomorrow and I don’t know how to feel about it. This adventure has been amazing (and sometimes stressful, not gonna lie) and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! I have met probably around a thousand people and made so many memories.

Yesterday, the totally cool crew at PeaceCYCLE threw me a going away party, complete with a song (with kazoos!), snacks, and gifts (an adorable banner with my name made out of the sachet dlo and their signatures, cham cham, mamba, and rapadou). It was so cute and completely unnecessary!

Today, my morning started like any other here–woke up around 5 to do my laundry, ate Memen’s awesome pancakes, and headed to the office to get some last-minute organizational stuff done. Then one member of the staff asked me if she could do my nails–that’s when I started typing this! And she even did them the same way I do my own, with the ring finger a different color–and I didn’t even tell her I do that! Pina coladas + glorious sun + mani pedi = perfect last full day here…and that wasn’t even the end of it! I went out with guests to the grocery store to grab some last-minute goodies and after dinner, they put signs up all over the kitchen saying things like “your beautiful voice and your smile will stay between us” and “we love you Abby!” The everyone said incredibly sweet things about how much they appreciated having me there, and Jacklin and Phaimie cried and it’s a miracle I didn’t then…but oh boy, I’ve been crying in secret! And as a simple thank you to the staff, I bought S’MORES! I wanted to do something special for the staff as a thank you, and figured s’mores are delicious and they’re interactive!! Plus they work well with the heat! A CAKE ASSORTMENT which I think they really enjoyed! Then they gave me a TON of beautiful Haitian-made gifts (which were completely unnecessary but appreciated nonetheless)…the gifts alone may literally fill up an entire extra suitcase! To top off the night, we took group photos and I’m so excited to get them!

See y’all back in the 317 shortly! ✌🏽✌🏽✌🏽

photo courtesy of Alina

blown away by the normalcy.

I am constantly surprising myself when I shake something off and think, “Oh, okay, yeah, that’s just normal.”

Maybe I should provide some context…my friend was robbed at gunpoint a few days ago of a good chunk of cash and his phone. I’ve seen and heard stories of robberies, murders, kidnappings, and other horrendous actions my entire life on the radio, television, and social media. You can’t walk past a newspaper stand without seeing an article about a victim and/or criminal. Is it always sad and awful? Of course! But does it kind of not hurt as much because of the frequency? Sure, unfortunately. It just kind of becomes white noise. And that’s terrible!!! But when it’s someone you know, it’s shocking painful terrifying indescribable. There aren’t words that get it right, but I’m trying my best here.

When I found out, my voice got super high and whiny. My eyes started to water. Even the possibility of me losing him was too much. And the worst thing is it’s a real possibility, not a one in a million chance. He was a lucky one. Did you hear about that Sister that was killed here a few months ago? Sister Isa was killed in a robbery on her way to the prosthetic center she helped found after the 2010 earthquake. Like seriously, a freaking religious Sister was killed in the place she called home, the place she served with great joy.

It’s a scary world we live in, and this world could use all the prayers it can get.

October recap.

Dudes, I just finished my last full month here. I’m so torn! It feels like I just got back, but I’ve already been back in Haiti for nearly two months. And I only have like twoish weeks left! GAH. GAH FOR SO MANY REASONS. Here’s what I have accomplished in the last few weeks:

-celebrated Domond’s birthday (a day late–he hates drawing attention to his birthday and foolishly thought he’d avoid singing and such…little did he know!)
-worked on a project that I thought would take a few days but actually only took a few hours…I created a resource center for guests! One of my favorite things is witnessing networking take place here, so I figured I’d kind of attempt to spread the networking love with like-minded people. There is a business card holder for people to find local vendors, medical groups, translators, pharmacies, etc (sorted by topic). I am particularly proud of a brochure/flyer organizer, also sorted by topic–I diy-ed it out of a cereal box! All year I have been trying to promote recycling and environment-friendly practices, so there’s a bin for scrap paper (in theory, I can get the staff to put misprints, printer test sheets, etc in the bin instead of in the trash). There is some information about things for guests to do if they’re just hanging around here with nothing to do. I’m still working a bit on it–I hope to get some Haiti books for it also. Hopefully the guests find the “resource center” beneficial! -introduced a few American women (one is a Sister of Charity and the other is a long-term volunteer with her) to the fantastic creation that is Google Docs. Sister Dianne and Dawn are so precious! Yay for new friends! They also are going to stay here on election night because they “want to see how the people react” to the results. It’ll be interesting for sure!
made it through Hurricane Matthew physically
-danced my heart out to Joanne
-had an exciting (to me, at least) October 18–the anniversary of my first trip to Haiti and the 55th anniversary of West Side Story’s NYC premiere (I watch it every year on October 18th)
-did a little decorating for our Christmas section…and of course I HAD to listen to Christmas songs!!-successfully managed to avoid eating all of the black licorice I brought down with me…I saved one piece for Halloween! And a few guests brought me candy (Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish, and homemade chocolate truffles) to celebrate haha
-speaking of Halloween, we brought Halloween to Haiti! A guest and I bought pumpkins and carved one into a Jacques-O-Lantern, then used the other one to make pumpkin puree for pumpkin cookies and paprika-brown butter pumpkin mash. We also roasted pumpkin seeds and I was SO proud and excited because Phaimie saw us roasting ours, then she went and grabbed the pumpkin seeds from the cook’s pumpkin (we had pumpkin soup that night, also) to roast her own! She was so proud and so were we! She told me this morning she was even looking up roasted pumpkin seeds and saw they’re quite nutritious so she said she might make them regularly!
-attempted to find someone to replace me…and I think it may be working? Time will tell!
-I was sick for about a week (well, it’s still going on…) with a dry cough, headache, sore throat, stomachache, and wheezing. Not fun, but also not the end of the world at all.
-tap-tapped to Croix-des-Bouquets, a metalworking village, with “PeaceCYCLE Rose” and two guests and picked up a few small goodies!


I cannot thank you enough for asking about my safety and that of my Haitian family. I have been completely overwhelmed by the love and support of those who have reached out and asked about us (I heard we even have monks from the Abbey of Gethsemani praying for us! How meaningful, especially since I have spent many hours there!). We at the House should be okay, but it’s the people of Haiti I am worried about. Hurricane Matthew is entirely unpredictable. Regardless of whether it does touch ground here or not, Haiti will be hit with side effects. I’m using this to update people as best I can (we shall see how long having internet and electricity in general will last). Refresh this page to see the latest updates, and please keep the people of Haiti in your prayers. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is also a pretty good website with a nice selection of maps with tracking information.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 – 9:25 am
Hurricane Matthew isn’t at it’s worst yet–from what I’ve heard, it itself hasn’t even hit Haiti yet (as my mom said, “it’s the calm before the storm…literally”). As of the latest tracking prediction, we shouldn’t be hit as directly/centrally as we thought. But this has been shown before and then changed. I spoke with one of my coworkers, Lamothe, about the current status of the hurricane. He said that somewhere on the coast (I’m not sure where), the waves lapped up so high they touched the electrical wires! I don’t have to tell you how…awful…that is. I can’t even think of the “right” word–I’m still in shock. Some homes are already flooded, and more will flood. The rain is coming down relentlessly and mudslides are on the horizon, so to speak. The winds have been strong the past few days and it was sprinkling rain for most of the morning and afternoon yesterday, but now it is no longer sprinkling as much as raining heavily. The main concern in Lamothe’s opinion is what they call the second wave. The diseases and health issues that will occur as a result of the hurricane. Cholera will be extremely present and quite possibly Ebola as well. To say the effects will be devastating doesn’t even cover it in the least. My housekeeping staff has opted to stay at their homes with their families and possessions (their life’s work).
We should be okay at the House–I cannot emphasize that enough. As crazy as this seems–I still can’t find a way to put it that doesn’t sound terrible–I think I need to be here for this. I need to see beyond what is seen on the news and on social media. It’s one thing to witness something like this through your television with a cup of Starbucks in one hand and a fire roaring in the fireplace, it’s another to be there in person. Not to say at all that I am living in a shack. I’m not “down and dirty” where I don’t know if I’ll survive. I am so blessed to be in a safe place, but I am so troubled to know that I am one of the lucky ones as a result. So many people live in homes with tin roofs that we would never in our wildest dreams think of as homes. So many people live on mountainsides and at low points that will suffer from the mudslides and the rain gathering together at the bottom. Pray. Please, please pray. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 2, 2016 – 8:49 pm
So I wrote this awesome thing and then it was deleted due to a poor connection so let’s see how this attempt goes. We think Hurricane Matthew has passed Port-au-Prince–miraculously. But now we are riding it out. We aren’t sure whatever to think that the worst has already happened or if the worst is still to come. Here at the House, we are perfectly fine. The rain has continued steadily and the wind is strong enough to slam every door you open. But we are making brownies and watching Netflix. We are lucky. Too lucky–we shouldn’t be this blessed when our brothers and sisters are literally up to their waists (or worse!) in water and don’t have homes to go back to (see the screenshot below, sent from a friend who is safe in Jeremie, near the north coast of the far southwestern portion of Haiti). Mudslides will occur over the course of the next few days. People have lost roofs and the houses underneath them, and some have lost their loved ones. The rain and wind “side effects,” I suppose, will affect homes, businesses, and churches along with the hearts and souls which fill them daily. But we are blessed. Please pray for those less fortunate. Thank you.

Thursday, October 6, 2016 – 7:47pm
Ever since news of Hurricane  Matthew broke, people have been texting, calling, Facebook messaging, WhatsApp-ing, tweeting, and fill-in-your-preferred-social-media-platform-ing me asking how I am and how Haiti is doing. From my parents to former coworkers to guests I’ve met here at the House to cousins I see once a year (if that) to a few US bosses, I am reminded each time of the kind and generous spirit of those I have been honored to know over the years.
But, friends, what do I say? How am I supposed to respond? I don’t know how I am doing. I know physically I am okay and the House I live in is standing, untouched, as if nothing ever happened. But that’s about all I know. I don’t know how I’m supposed to respond to photos and videos from friends (friends living in Haiti and elsewhere). I don’t know how to put into words the pain I feel (especially since I feel as if my pain isn’t justified at all because I live in a house that miraculously escaped Matthew and didn’t suffer unquantifiable damage). I don’t know how to “accept” prayers and well-wishes when so many actually need them. I don’t know how to brush off this feeling of being numb. I don’t know how to explain the seemingly never-ending hope, faith, and joy coming from people who have been through so much (see the “Jesus loves me” bracelet below). I don’t know how to anticipate the health crises that are sure to emerge as a result of standing water, lack of hygiene, food, etc. I don’t know how to sort everything out and try to make it make sense.  I just don’t know, guys. And I don’t think I could ever truly know.
So thank you for asking how I am and how Haiti is. Thank you for being concerned and caring and an all-around awesome person. Just don’t be offended if it sits in my inbox for a bit while I try to process. Thanks. 🙂