Thursday, January 31, 2008

We visited the village of Barbancourt this afternoon and showed the film 'The God Man'. Here are some highlights:

Safely Here

internet issues ... not allowing photos ... just letting Michigan know their peeps are here in LaDigue...

Photo Post

Rule #1 for blogging ... if you have nothing to say, post a few kid photos.
Top photo of Annie and startled Lydie, middle photo of Noah chatting with Robenson this morning, bottom photo of Hope and Ike taken a couple of days ago.
Troy and Peter have gone to Port to get the team. Paige is SO excited for them to get here, she has two good friends coming on this team. The weather is amazingly perfect again today. Sorry about your below zero wind chills.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Team Time

The mission team from the Grand Rapids area were slowed by cold weather and will arrive early tomorrow instead of this afternoon.
It was actually good we had the extra hours to get ready. Our fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants approach looked like it might cause early morning hunger issues for the them. We realized we did not have any cereal and only a few eggs. The shopping list made from a hospital room lacked numerous items.
It is hard to imagine that much of the USA is experiencing record-cold weather. It is lovely here, no humidity to speak of and a nice breeze. My Dad is worrying about our ridiculously expensive propane and thinking he better just drain the water from the pipes rather than risk the gas running out on a terribly cold day. I wish that darn place would sell. I cannot imagine why no one wants to look at houses when it is 14 below.
For those of you who have commented on previous posts about our medical bills for Lydia, thank you for your kindness and concern. As of this moment we are hopeful that all but a deductible will be covered by a health care Co-op that we are members of; we're thinking we can be reimbursed for much of it. A church in Illinois contacted us and wants to cover the deductible. God is providing! Thank you again for your concern. The bill will blow your mind. What would it cost to stay in a hospital 7 nights in the USA/Canada? Here, the total bill- cat scan, lab work, Doctor and all was less than 4K --- crazy!!
Maybe you'll want to come here next time you need hospitalization. ;-) ? Or not.
With all the extra activity and the poor Internet reliability, I don't know how much we will be able to post over the next few days. We'll try to update the families from Michigan as best we can.
We're thinking of you and hoping you stay warm.
With love from LaDigue,
tara for all of us

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Birthday Girl

Below, Paige is explaining the math problem required in order to get the right number for the birthday girl ... Take the number of (tea) candles, divide by two, multiply by three and add two. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TESS!!
We LOVE you so much!

Lydie and Doctor Eveillard

For those wanting to know about this GREAT hospital now open in Port au Prince, it is called CDTI or Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart) - They have been open a year. They have very new medical equipment, a lab, and other than being bossy about telling Moms when to feed their babies, they do a great job. It is on Avenue Charles Sumner, not too far out of downtown. Five story building, walking distance to a Dominoes Pizza. It doesn't get any better than that.

I NEED to take a photo of Lydie with her other Doctor, I will do that tomorrow. :) Both Jen and I loved Dr. Eveillard, he was an amazing guy. Jen just gave Lyd her first of 14 antibiotic injections. She'll have two a day for the next week. She gets over it pretty quickly ... Lydie does; not Jen. :)

The birthday party is over, the kids are in bed and the rest of us are chilaxing. Paige thinks Lyd got bigger the week we were gone, I think Annie did. (They probably both did.)

Quickly ...

We are HOME! Praising God and just soaking it in.

We sent Jen and Tess to the beach (with Hope and Ike) for a day of fun and hopefully rest ... We are getting ready for Tess's party tonight. :)

Much to say, but little time now ... More later.

Also, I am sorry if you are waiting on an email reply, I will reply as soon as I can. Checking-out of the hospital was interesting. I will tell those of you asking about WHAT hospital and where??? -- hopefully tonight.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Port au Prince Commute

Lately I've been making far too many drives home from Port au Prince at dusk. I think I've driven home in the dark more times in the last month than all of last year...I can never decide what is worse - trying to see the huge holes in the road at night or trying to see the huge trucks on the road with little or no lighting on them. On Friday night I set the land-speed record making it to the hospital. There were some very lucky cows in Titanyen that had their lives spared by inches.

Here's a little video taken on the drive back from Port au Prince - the sights and sounds, but no smells, and no guns either. No fancy editing this time, but here you go:


(From Tara in PAP) - Lydie and I hope to blow this Popsicle stand by Tuesday late morning. Tess is celebrating a birthday tomorrow and we want to be home for that party. If we are not home for the party ... a major tantrum will be thrown on the floor of this room. Major.

Lyd continues to improve and again seems happier today. Hallelujah!

Thank you for praying us through the last six days. We had no energy to share the other things that were going on ... But I wanted you to know that at the same time we were finding out what Lyd had and learning we would be stuck here for awhile we also had these three phone calls come in during a 12 minute period -

  • A letter came announcing Troy needed to be in court the next morning at 10am for something we thought he would not have to be involved in.
  • The container people called saying the container would be delivered later that day. That means hours and hours of physical labor that cannot wait due to rain and security issues.
  • Isaac and Annie's birthmom called with a major problem hoping we could solve it that instant.

Wednesday a team of 13 arrive from Michigan, we're not ready but they tell us that is okay. We get a pass... We know them well, so we believe them. :) We even wrote them with the missing grocery item and they're bringing it. Zach was our cheese dealer and called us the other day when he found cheese. Have you ever had your friend call and say, "Oh guess what, I am at the store -- THEY HAVE CHEESE !!!-- should I buy it for you?"

This place makes everyone who lives here turn odd.

I can finally laugh at some of these nurses. Before I wanted to strangle the life out of them. You have never seen so many people who are total experts on when a baby should eat and HOW a baby should eat. On Saturday one nurse actually argued with Jen about Lydia being hungry. Jen told her it was not possible because I had been nursing her all day but the nurse wanted me to listen to her RIGHT THEN so she kind of went after Jen. It was so weird. That was the same nurse that tried to calm Lydie by doing some sort of shaken baby syndrome type thing ... you can guess how well Lydie liked that. Odd odd odd.

Have a great day. We love and appreciate you. :)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

His Mercies are New Every Morning

Sunday morning ...

I have been sleeping in a hospital bed with Lydia curled up right next to me for a number of nights. This morning when she opened her eyes the first thing she did was smile at me.

It sounds dramatic, or cheesy --- but I will not take her smiles for granted ever again. The last five days it was like she was a different person all together. She is normally so interactive and grins in response to us --- I missed that -- today feels like a turning point to me. She is crying less and she is responding more. I feel more hopeful than I have in many days. I think she is really going to be okay.

On Friday afternoon it felt like the finish line was in sight. There was a sense of relief for all of us. I talked to the kids and told them I would see them on Saturday. Jen and I were sitting in the room chatting, Troy had left to go back home. I kiddingly said, "It's Friday night, we should order pizza!" It was a joke but Jen went downstairs and found someone who was willing to go get us pizza. I was impressed. When the pizza came we were giddy -- it might sound dumb, but pizza and other treats that we're accustomed to are SO MUCH BETTER in Haiti. A crappy piece of pizza in Minnesota is a Heavenly piece in Haiti. We were sitting on the bed eating and talking and Lyd was just laying there fussing a bit. All of a sudden she stiffened up from head to toe. It caught my attention and I picked her up. Her fists were in tight little knots and they started shaking. I said, "Jen, something is wrong with her." Next her eyes started going back and forth from left to right at a pace that I could not duplicate for you if you were sitting here with me. It was so terrible looking, it was so scary. Jen left the room. I was still not really sure what was happening, I just knew it was scaring me terribly. I kept yelling, "Jen, Jen -- something is wrong ..."

Jen had gone to the hall to get the nurses going on finding medication to stop the seizure. Jen came back in and gave instructions to the nurses and everyone gathered round Lydia on the foot of the bed. At that point I knew everything I was asking and saying was a distraction and not helpful, so I left the room. The next twenty minutes were the longest 20 minutes of my life. I would walk by the room to be sure I could still hear her --- meaning she was alive. I was a freak. I prayed and cried out loud and people stopped to stare at the crazy white lady.

About 20 minutes later Jen came out to tell me Lydie was given meds to stop the seizure and that she was kind of out of it but that she was okay. Lyd has had a lot of trouble keeping the IVs so at the time the seizure happened she did not have one in. Jen shaved one side of her head so the nurses could put a new IV in her scalp in order to get the medication that would stop the seizure into her quickly. Jen filled me in on the plan to have a cat scan and we talked about what we would do if it came back showing anything. We called Troy and told him to grab our passports and come in to Port. I talked to Tess and asked her if we ended up leaving Haiti if she could handle the kids. Her response was incredible. She said, "Tara we will be fine, you do whatever you have to do to get Lydie better." I was as moved by her bravery as I was anything, I was sobbing.

Thank God leaving Haiti was not required. Thank God Jen was with Lydie when the seizure occurred. Thank God Lydia's brain looks normal - even perfect. Thank God that today Lydie woke up smiling. Thank God that the finish line for this race just reappeared.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tired Troops

I apologize for the slow update today ... three reasons 1. Lydie wants to eat nonstop leaving me unable to type and 2. We're tired out. 3. There is not much new to say.

Troy ended up racing in to Port after I called him last night, so rather than just Jen and I- it was the three of us in our cozy hospital room. Troy got creative and used some padded rails they have here to make the bed into a crib --- he laid them on the floor and called it a bed. Tonight he'll be back home with the clan in LaDigue and just Jen and I will stay here.

I think we're emotionally drained and just sort of tired of this place. It is pretty unusual to have a seizure AFTER the fevers are down - Jen will post a medical persons smart post on that after she catches a nap. That post will give more of the way it all went down last night and the plan for the next few days. Jen deserves a three day nap after the way she took charge of this room last night ... again, no coincidence that after two nights NOT staying here with me --- the night that she WAS here was the night I needed her.

For those of you asking how Tess and Paige are doing ... thank you for thinking of them! I talked to Tess last night and we sobbed together on the phone for a minute but she is totally dealing with the home-front without complaint. I thank God for her. Paige is helping Tess and both of them are so capable and their attitudes are great.

Lydie is doing okay, she moves her head around a lot -- like she is trying to escape from her own head and get a break from it for awhile. Poor baby. She has her 5th IV in right now, I am trying so hard not to let it pull out ... easier said than done with a nursing baby.

I cannot thank any of you enough for all the kind words and prayers and passing along the requests to your own circles of friends ... wow, to think of the number of people caring for Lydie and lifting her before our Heavenly Father is just crazy good.

Below, a break from the all Lydie show ... a photo of Noah that makes me smile. He and Ike LOVE the chickens that the McHouls have. It shows. :) Boy do I miss those kids that are 35 miles to the North.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Jen went with Lyd for the Cat Scan. It looks totally normal. Jen has a theory on the seizure --- one I will mess up if I try to tell it --- but the great news is that her brain looks BEAUTIFUL. Obviously, we're not going home tomorrow now ... but wanted you to know that we're doing well and that this community of on-line prayer and support is huge to us. HUGE.


set back

please pray for Lydia Beth ... as you read - everything looked great just a few hours ago.

jen and i were sitting chatting about an hour ago and Lydie had a seizure. i don't know how to be coherent - I am so afraid. please just pray she is okay and that we know what to do. she just left for a cat scan.


Lydia update

Hi everyone, this is Jen writing from the hospital in Port. Tara asked me to explain a little more about what's going on with Lydie.

Lydia has pneumococcal meningitis. Her initial spinal tap gram stain results on Tuesday night showed bacteria in the spinal fluid that appeared to be a bacterial called Streptococcus pneumoniae. Today the spinal fluid culture results came back and they confirmed the initial gram stain results. They also confirmed that the antibiotic Lydia's been on since Tuesday night is the right one to treat the infection.

Pneumococcal meningitis is a very serious infection no matter what country you're in. Without appropriate treatment it is always fatal. Early treatment with appropriate antibiotics is essential to prevent poor neurological outcomes. Even in developed countries like the U.S., the diagnosis is sometimes delayed, leading to various complications like respiratory failure, coma, shock, seizures, and bleeding disorders.

Babies in developed countries (including the United States) receive the Prevnar vaccine, which protects against seven serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae (the types that tend to cause the most serious infections). Lydia received one dose of this vaccine before she left the U.S. To be fully protected, children need to receive four doses (at 2, 4, 6, and 12 months of age). It's possible that she's infected with a serotype that's not in the vaccine, or it's possible that she's infected with a vaccine serotype, but that the one vaccine she received didn't afford her enough protection to fight off this infection completely (though it still probably helped some).

We'll never know where Lydia picked up this infection--because she became ill 7 days after she arrived in Haiti, it's possible she was infected either in the U.S. or in Haiti. Regardless, there's nothing that anyone could have done differently to prevent this from happening.

The great news is that Lydia is doing very, very well. I can't emphasize this enough! The meningitis was diagnosed early, antibiotics were started very quickly, and she hasn't had any concerning complications. She hasn't had any of the complications I mentioned above. Most importantly, she's never had any seizures or other neurological problems, and her fever resolved after 24 hours on antibiotics and hasn't returned. Also, she's been eating like a champ!

She's pretty irritable but this is common and to be expected in a baby who's being treated for meningitis. The reason is because as the antibiotics attack the bacteria around the brain and spinal cord, the immune system goes into overdrive, sending all sorts of cytokines and inflammatory chemicals in to help fight the infection. All of this is very irritating to the brain and spinal cord. If Lydia could talk, I'm sure she'd be telling us she has a massive headache and horrible neck pain. This should gradually get better over the next week or so.

This morning I discussed Lydia's story with Cindy, a good friend of mine who's a pediatric infectious disease doctor with over 20 years of experience working with children in both the United States and in Africa. She's very encouraged by how Lydia's doing, for all the reasons I already mentioned above (no fever, eating well, no seizures or other neurological signs, etc). Being in Haiti can be pretty isolating--it's easy to start second guess yourself on everything--so it was very reassuring to hear her perspective.

Lydia's been receiving Tylenol essentially around-the-clock since Tuesday. Cindy recommended that we watch her off Tylenol for 24 hours to make sure she doesn't develop any significant fevers, which could be a sign of problems and would require more testing and more time in the hospital. If this happens, we'll have to deal with it, but we're at a good hospital that can do the tests she'd need.

Lydia hasn't had any Tylenol since 9 AM this morning, and so far she hasn't had any fevers. If by tomorrow morning she's continuing to do well, we hope to leave the hospital and complete the rest of her 14-day treatment by giving her antibiotic injections twice a day at home (for you medical people--she's receiving Ceftriaxone). The most important thing is to treat meningitis with parenteral antibiotics--whether they're given intravenously (IV) or by intramuscular injection (IM) doesn't matter.

Babies and children who are treated for meningitis are at risk for various neurological sequelae, so Lydia will need close follow-up in the coming months to make sure her hearing and development are progressing normally. However, the risk of her developing these sequelae is relatively low because, again, she hasn't had any seizures or other neurological problems.

This is a scary thing to deal with here or anywhere...Thanks to everyone for praying and caring...we've felt it!!

From PAP

Hi all-
I know you're waiting on an update. Basically, after listening to Jen call a specialist in MN and hearing those thoughts and that conversation I feel encouraged that things are heading the right direction.

Lyd is doing pretty well. She will be crabby and irritable for days, that is to be expected. Jen is with me now at the hospital and the Dr. is on the way with the latest lab results. We are still hopeful that tomorrow we could check out of the hospital and turn the rest of the care over to Jen from our house in LaDigue.

Once we have lab results I will ask Jen to post a smarter sounding update. Thanks for everything ---- you guys are a wonderful group of friends!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

oh haiti

  1. I thought I ordered Poulet (chicken) for dinner tonight. No. I ordered Boulet (cream of wheat type substance.)

  2. When asking the nurse for lab results to read to Jen over the phone she said, "Parents are not allowed to see the chart." Yeah. Okay. Try again.

  3. One of the nurses just explained to me how to breastfeed Lydia properly. She said, "I have been working with children for four years." I resisted telling her to step off. (Uh - four years? Not impressed! lets talk about upwards of two decades) I let her mess with my technique just to be nice. Apparently I am doing it all wrong ... I have no idea how she got to be 13+ pounds with my total lack of skill.

The news on Lydie B ...

We are still here tonight. Not sure about tomorrow yet. They had to switch her IV to her other arm. Now they are drawing more blood for some labs that the wicked-smart Doctor Jen requested. Lyd seems to have a headache or some kind of pain based on the way she acts whenever she is awake. I don't believe I can recall a time where any of my children cried so many hours in one day. :( The lab guy in here tonight is so nervous about taking blood from her, I feel bad for him. He has no desire to try to get blood from the chunky white baby. The look on his face when he walked in and saw his patient was priceless.

Jen is advocating and keeping everybody on the ball. Once we see some new lab reports tomorrow, we'll know more about our departure time.

I have not even really checked in on the other kids -- except that Paige and I have talked a number of times ... Tess is that good. I am not concerned.

Paige, thank you for the bag of clothes you sent ... you overdid it with the earrings and belt ... but by golly, I WILL look good in this room by myself tomorrow. :) I miss you guys and love you very much.

Troy faced a few challenges of his own at the peace tribunal thing today ... he struggled to stay peaceful ... but that is another story for another day - and one he should tell. It falls into the "oh Haiti" category as well.

with grateful hearts,

t & t and tribe

Muddled Thoughts

This is not organized thought ... nor is it particularly lovely ... it may even come across raw.

Consider this fair warning.

On and off since I got here (to the hospital) on Tuesday I have experienced such an overwhelming diatribe of conflicting thoughts and feelings. All at once I am totally in awe of God's provision and totally angry that I am dealing with this. As it turns out, human nature allows for a person to be aware of the unique and amazing ways God showed up -- yet still be ticked off and disappointed --- all in the same thirty seconds. (And yes, I know this is not true gratitude. If I were 100% grateful there would be no room for anger.)

As I sit here watching Lyd snooze, I am left with too much time to question things. Too much time to think. When she is awake she cries in pain. It is a relief when she gives in and rests for awhile. I can then go back to listening to the air-conditioning unit hum and trying to figure myself out.

This is one of those posts that will show me as I really am ... the kind of post I could easily skip writing if I wanted to save face and appear uber holy. I guess I am about to do neither of those things.

Do you ever try to make deals with God?

I do.
All the time. I do it knowingly, I do it recognizing it is childish.

The last many months I talked to God a lot about how much I fear something bad happening to my children. My fear, for whatever reason, seemed centered on Lydia. I went over and over with Him how much I really felt that bringing a new baby back to Haiti was a hard thing, that I would do it but that I did not want to do it. I told Him if I brought her here I wanted her to be well. No Malaria, no crazy jungle disease ... nothing more serious than a common cold. I sealed the deal with my usual, "Thanks Lord." Done. That was my deal with Him. Or so I thought.

On her seventh day in the country, I stood in the hallway of the hospital as Lydie was getting picked at to find a vein for the IV -- and I was angry. Totally angry. Troy came out into the hall and asked if I was okay. I said, "No, I am not okay. I am pissed. As a matter of fact I am bitching at God right now!" (Offended by my choice of words? Sorry, but when quoting I need to keep things accurate -- you know, truth in reporting and all ... Send complaint emails to my boss - or try His gmail account -- Or, just don't read this anymore. God knows what I said anyway. He knows EVERYTHING I say. ) I went on to reason with Troy that I had TOLD God I wanted Lydia to be protected. I had also told God I did not really want to bring her here so young. Why was He not keeping His end of the deal? Does He not HEAR me?!?

As an aside ... it might be best if you know that Troy is rational. Troy has a better handle on faith than I do ... he does not immediately feel angry when things don't go his way. I do. I am the weakest link in the partnership.

That is why the sermon I linked you to is punching me in the face. What really do I expect? The truthful answer for me: I expect it to be hard at times --- but I expect to be able to dictate WHICH hard things are acceptable to me and which ones are not allowed on my faith journey. I want to order the pre-packaged life with Jesus that allows for hardships A and D - but not B, C or E. It's the consumer in me ... just like at Burger King; I want to have it my way.

And so, sick kids fall into the "God don't allow that" category for me. I have this ridiculous notion that God owes it to me to keep my kids healthy just because I love Him and I desire to be where He wants me. I will risk some things, but not all things. Not this thing. Even as I write it out it smacks of total immaturity on my part --- but it is true nonetheless. I don't want to be stretched in all ways. Truth be told I like to feel in control, and nothing makes a Mom feel less in control than a sick baby ... in a developing nation no less.

I have no pretty way to end this, no way to tell you:
Oh, yes I get it -- Ah-HA, I am having my Oprah lightbulb moment ... I get why this happened seven days after I brought her here, and more than that I am SOOOO OKAY with it ... I accept with joy that my prayers and deal-making for Lydia did not pan out the exact way I planned. I'm not angry. No sir. I'd even enjoy telling you I LOVE having this opportunity to trust God -- but that'd be an extra-large lie. And I don't like to lie.

I want to be a person who looks tribulation and trouble square in the face and has assurance that my Jesus still loves me. I want to do that with joy -- I want to have unwavering faith in God - even when it does not go my way -- but that is not who I am nor where I am. Not yet.

You know when the Bible suggests we "count it all joy"??? (James 1:2-8) Nice idea in theory, a little more difficult to put into practice.

I am to be desiring a life of walking with Jesus and with that expecting difficult things and I am to count it all joy? Okay ... I have the first part -- I desire to walk with Jesus. I have the second part partially down, I expect certain hard things. But that last part. Yikes. I have such a long way to go before I am there.

I know God is good. Please don't mistake this honesty or misunderstand - I know, without a shadow of a doubt that He provided us with many things to make this trial easier. Jen and Tess and a decent hospital -- lots of praying and caring and wonderful friends --- I know that. I don't discount that at all. I'm just in that self-examination place ... and keeping it real. Keeping it real can be so ugly at times. *I* can be so ugly.

being tested,

Thursday ...

Lyd had an okay night. She cries A LOT and is obviously feeling some pain. Her fever has been down for about 24 hours now though, we're thankful for that.

I don't know yet what the day will bring. I still hope we'll get to leave today but I won't know until later in the day. Troy has gone to a "peace tribunal" appointment to deal with an employee issue. The container is also coming today. He has a lot to juggle right now and we're about to enter into weeks of many, many visitors. We definitely feel overwhelmed at all that must happen.

To pass time today I am listening to Dave Johnson at I highly recommend going there and clicking on "recent sermons" on the right and then listening to January 13th first (called "So, What were you expecting?") - there is even a Haiti illustration in the sermon. Then January 20th is good too. Maybe you'll find an application for your life, I know I am.

Thank you for praying. I have been so fearful on and off ... the prayers help me with that.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Alternate Universe

I am posting from a hospital room in Port au Prince. Wireless Internet in a hospital in Port au Prince. Alternate. Universe. (They did not have wireless in the hospital Lyd was born in back in MN in October!)

The hospital we are at was found via a tip from Zach, his family has used this new hospital before. It is small, only 15 rooms but they are doing a great job for us. Because I don't speak Creole too well at all ... uh, like 40 words won't get you too far ... Jen agreed to stay with me last night. It is just very nerve wrecking to have no idea what is happening or be able to ask questions with the language barrier. Jen was the God given answer to all of this. A Pediatrician who speaks Creole at my side. How amazing is that?

We got here and Lyd was up to almost 104 and was totally lethargic. I was scared to let them do the spinal tap but Jen convinced me that it was important. This morning the labs came back showing bacteria from the spinal tap. They have her on two antibiotics via an IV. Jen says in the USA the same things would have happened and they would also have wanted to keep her for a few days to watch closely.

The ten day thing is the worst case scenario, it really sounds like after a day or two they will trust Jen to take over and give her the rest of the antibiotics via shots from our house. Do you know how many times I have thought: What if Jen was not here, what if Tess was not here? Seriously, God sent angels to help us. I HAVE to stay with Lydia as I am her source of food, so to know that Tess (along with the ever capable and amazing Paige) are holding things together - is reassuring. Thank you God. Tess just told Troy things are totally under control and she EVEN DID SCHOOL work with the Kindergartners today. Over achiever.

Troy is juggling about seven million things right now, a spazzy wife and sick baby being just two of the seven million ... so I think *HE* is the one who could use prayers.

Jen says Lyd probably picked this up here in Haiti but it is also possible that she got it on the plane coming down ...

JEN -- If you want to correct me if I have said anything incorrect or in a stupid way, please do so!

Tess and Paige-
I LOVE you girls and will talk to you later tonight. Britt, you're rock solid ... Lyd will be okay. God is good.

Thank you everyone ... from the bottom of our tired hearts.

tara and troy

Lydie B Update

By Britt:

My parents sent me a text-message from the hospital in PAP (crazy that that works internationally, huh?) asking me to update the blogosphere on Lydia's condition.

They got the lab results back this morning and concluded that Lydia has bacterial meningitis. My dad had viral meningitis earlier this fall, but bacterial meningitis is more serious, especially for a three month old, but they caught it early and she will be just fine. They are keeping her over-night again at the hospital tonight for IV and observation but she should be able to go home tomorrow. Normally they keep babies for ten days, but Dr. Jen is in La Digue, so the PAP hospital is going to let her go sooner since Lydie kind of has her own personal pediatrician. You are a god-send, Jen -- & Tess/Paige for holding down the fort!

Thank you all so much for offering up prayers ... I see that there are lots of comments to be published, but I just wanted to quickly throw this up here. We are grateful for your partnership with our family and are trusting God as Lydie starts towards a quick and complete recovery. I love her so much and am counting the days until I get to see my baby sister and mom in late March.

Thankful in bear country,
~Big sister B

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Prayers Please

Troy here -
Please pray for Lydia tonight, and Tara as they are staying at a hospital in Port au Prince overnight. Hopefully some lab results are conclusive tonight and we find out what is wrong. Lydia's fever went as high as 104 degrees and she was admitted to the hospital this afternoon. Fortunately we recently learned of a very good hospital in Port, and we're also thankful that Dr. Jen was with us this afternoon and is staying overnight with Tara. God is good, even in the midst of our trials and pains. We especially appreciate having the resources to take our child to a hospital and get help, unlike so many of our neighbors. The most recent news I have from the hospital is that they are doing a spinal tap to check for meningitis. More later if the internet holds up...

Speed Blogging

  • Troy spent Monday in Port running errands. A miracle occurred when on one city block in Port au Prince - he successfully completed three errands. This has never happened before and it is highly unlikely to happen ever again.
  • Our Internet is giving us grief. Not working well at night.
  • Our first team of the year comes next week. The grocery store has not had three of the staple items any of the three times we've checked. Team, prepare for rice and beans.
  • Paige baked three different kinds of cookies and muffins yesterday. She has also taken on Britt's old habit of making smoothies nightly. The rest of us love her new hobbies.
  • Lumen, the lady who helps in our house with a few things each day, had a baby boy yesterday. :)
  • Citibank called. The beach charged me $250 instead of $50 last Saturday. Try arguing that one out in this country, gggggrrrrr.
  • Lydia started running a fever at 11pm Sunday night. At 2am this morning (27 hours later)it was 103 - I have contacted Dr. Jen and we're making plans to get her in today. You all know that I am a freak about sick kids ... especially here ... any quick prayers tossed up will be 110% appreciated.
  • Tess successfully figured out how to get Noah to do everything we have failed at getting him to do for months. Last night she told him if he ate all of his dinner she would have to be very angry and maybe even spank him. He of course finished all of his dinner.
  • Annie is doing well. She likes to swing and bounce. She also punishes anyone who does not burp her after two ounces. Tess got the full body puke treatment yesterday.
  • Phoebe is developing a goofy and complex personality. She very much wants to be the center of attention. She also has a temper that rivals all others in the house. We're not going to lie ... this makes us nervous. Phoebe, Noah, Lydia and Annie are all battling to be "the baby of the house."

More when Internet access and interesting information coincide.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weekend Report

We had such a fun weekend. First, we are SO amazed at the way God placed Tess in our lives. The kids all love her, Phoebe even says Tess now! We've been enjoying her weird sense of humor and laughing at how Paige found a new big sister to help her get through the tough time of losing a big sister.
On Saturday we went to the beach, Troy stayed home with Phoebe and Lydie B. We had a fabulous day. On Sunday we dropped Troy to church for worship team rehersal then went grocery shopping. We had to skip out of church early to bring Tina to the airport. Her goodbye with Annie was hard but we knew it would be. Tess is the real deal - and had no problem driving the truck around town while I needed a half hour in the airport with Tina. Jen, Tess and Lydie went on a little tour while I stood with Annie and Tina until it was time for her to go to the gate. We all had lunch at the McHouls, which is always fun -- even if John is there.

We're ready to tackle the week ahead ... we'll keep you posted if anything interesting happens ... OH, the Voudou place where the man turned donkey was arrested by the UN ... it really did burn down, we saw for ourselves! That's all from LaDigue for tonight.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

An Imperfect Report from Waco

By Britt:

In continuing with my D's thoughts from below, I too must confess to a hesitation to post for many of the same reasons:
1) I'm a bit of a perfectionist as well and cannot commit to blogging unless I am in the right frame of mind and have enough time to do it and do it well.

2) I enjoy writing, or at least the process of it, but I have big shoes to fill!

3) I too would rather sit one-on-one and rehash the day's events ... impossible right now .. but I guess I will have to look forward to something like that in the future, maybe later on as a married person. :)

Anyway, I have been avoiding posting as a result of my inability to portray the last few week's events well. So here I am, ready to do it once and for all - but with no promises of perfection.

I moved in last Thursday and since then it has been a whirlwind of events and activities. Registering for classes two days before they started was interesting, but somehow I still ended up with an amazing group of professors and courses that I am very excited about. I have not been this excited academically since kindergarten. Actually, I feel a little bit like a baby kindergartener - thrilled at the new experience all the while sort of shoving aside the sheer volume of work it will take to get from where I am now to "the goal."

Classes started Monday and I am pleased to say that I survived the first week and managed to stay awake for my first two 8am 80 minute lectures (I don't know how your attention span is in the morning, but this is kind of a big deal for me ;) My classes are arranged M,W,F and T, Th.

French is my favorite class. I dropped my psychology class after the first day, realizing that I might not need that exact class for my degree, and added the first four of my required sixteen credits of a foreign language. So I missed the first two days of classes but walked in on Wednesday afternoon to the professor speaking French and French alone the entire time. That was .... cool. Yeah, cool - because wow, Creole IS a lot like French. So far I am absolutely loving this third language - I understand most everything but open the book to look up proper spellings for vocab words (oops - Creole's phonetics kind of made me lazy.)

I also have political science, pre-calculus (ya, Kristin V, I decided to retake it - our mountaintop tutor sessions are helping give me a head-start this time around - thanks!), chemistry pt II, Christian Scriptures, and Tennis. Tennis is one of Baylor's four required semesters of what they call 'HP' courses - which stands for human performance. They have a lot to choose from, but tennis was the only of about forty with an opening. So far it is fun, my prof is a Baylor grad student from the Czech Republic - she says my name like the thing a girl uses in her hair -- very throaty and mildly entertaining. Tennis is my other 8am class.

I am also 'enrolled' in chapel which is held twice a week. Political science is my next favorite after French - big surprise considering who my grand-Poppy is. :D (Picture at above left is of my favorite Baylor building - the Burleson Quadrangle. It is where I take poli sci and French)

I am a note taker too - I started a list of blog post ideas at the beginning of the week. Follow-through would be where I am lacking. But moving on ... one of the things I wrote down was about one of Baylor's many student organizations. I emailed one of the people listed on this organization's website for more information. He replied saying that the group had unfortunately dissolved indefinitely as a result of most of its officers having graduated last year. Want to know the name of the organization? The Caribbean Student Association. Now think about it for a second ... this makes sense right? I mean, in Caribbean terms - if the officers graduate then that's it - group's over! It would be out of the question to, say, elect new officers and keep moving forward with keeping the Baylor Carib students connected to each other. Haha! I thought this was so funny and very in synch with the island approach to life. It will be interesting to see if the CSA ever starts back up again, but it probably won't be the interested white girl who brings that to pass.

Other interesting Carib connections I have made: 1) My first day of French class, the prof was going around the classroom asking students common questions and looking for an all-French response. One of the students answered his question like so, making my ears perk up about 7 inches off my head "Non, je nes pas patri American; je suis Ayicien." (*So I know I messed that up grammatically, but I've only had three classes so ya) I was SO pumped to learn of the Haitian in MY french class! I couldn't help myself and approached him after class, asking if he spoke Creole. He said that he does not, though his family does. I said that I did speak Creole and in fact had been living in Haiti over the past couplde years. His reply: "Ohhh. I'm sorry about that" in a very snide yet sympathetic tone. KER-PLUNK! So much for sharing a love for his homeland and my adopted homeland! I have not had the opportunity to discuss this response further, nor to ask him what his background is. He is very boujwa, that is apparent. I am looking forward to having the semester to question (and disagree with) his response. It's understandable that he might not be too fond of his roots as they are ones with deep history and dread, but I was just crushed to receive and apology in response to my thankfulness/pride over having lived nan Ayiti.

Apparently there are quite a few Haitians here at Baylor - I wish I could put a want ad out to locate the rest of them - but I will try to do so in a more socially acceptable way. If I were going to publish an ad - it would read something like this: "Pale white girl seeks Creole-speaking Haitian student at Baylor. Can offer bribes of famosa ketchup or tablet pistach from the homeland!" I'll try to let you know how that plan plays out .... ;)

French class, besides being generally awesome in and of itself, has provided the most connections so far. #1: I met with my professor to introduce myself and get the notes I missed from the first few days. He didn't even give me the notes, told me that I had great pronunciation, and that I should really watch the movie he and his wife had watched the night prior -- it's called 'La Case Negre' and is a French-made movie that was filmed in Port au Prince. He is supposedly going to loan me a copy. Should prove to be interesting - I am especially anxious to see how PAP and Haiti/Haitians in general are depicted. #2: I was partnered with a kid who lived in the Cayman Islands for four years; his dad did pastoral work there. Way cool! #3: There is a Haitian surgeon that works at the hospital here in Waco. Apparently he is a great friend of the university and the pre-med program. One of the girls in my class nannies for him. I want to meet him and shadow him!

I also have a few random facts for you that I have learned in various classes/discussions/observations throughout the week:

  • In Austin, TX, you can be arrested for using "the bird." Very important to know.
  • George Bush, Sr. hates broccoli. (I was told by my mother that this is old news and I am just too young - but I found this and the Nat'l Broccoli's response to that statement to be highly entertaining and noteworthy)
  • Polyantic --> new word I learned, though cannot find in the dictionary (?). I wrote down the word 'Isaac' for my definition. The prof described it as one who is eternally joyful, maybe even annoyingly so, but just incredibly happy nonetheless.
  • Waco has some strange excess of stray cats. It kind of grosses me out. I had absolutely no problem with the dingos, er stray dogs (sorry about the ignorance of calling them dingos ;) in Haiti (unless it happened to be biting at my ankles on a run ... then I had issues) but for whatever reason I cringe every-time I see the mangy beasts paroling around campus - and so far they never try to bite at my ankles.
  • A 'mum' is kind of a big deal here in the soooow-uutthh. Apparently it's some sort of streamy corsage/banner thing that you wear over your shoulder or on your person for the week of high school homecoming. My roommate and I were in a craft store and she asked me if "y'all did mums up north?" I thought she was referring to the chrysantheMUMS and nodded my head in stupidity. She then proceeded to point at a sample one on display. So strange. I just don't get the point of a $40+ streamy piece of ... well, streamy stuff.
  • I don't grin every time I hear the word 'all y'all' anymore. It only took a week to lose its novelty. I do feel kind of awkward or left-out saying 'you guys' though ... ;)
  • I almost got a ticket on my bike for going the wrong way on a one-way street. I think my mom will find this particularly entertaining, considering my recent issue with one-ways and traffic officers in general. Next time I won't do that (it was like 5 blocks out of the way to do it the right way)

For all of you meteorology-types, it has been freezing cold here. Interesting how quickly I turn back into a wimpy islander. The last few days the highs have only been in the mid 30s. The average high at this time of year is about 55 with lows in the 30s. It was hailing a little bit this afternoon while I was walking back from the bookstore. That was great fun. We aren't allowed to open our windows in our dorm rooms (I guess it messes up the ventilation) but I do every morning to check if I can see my breath or not. Gram, you were right - I definitely needed my wool coat from MN. I hope it is less dreary next week ... I wore shorts last week during move in but today I was cold in two coats. Boo weather!

I took a few pictures of our dorm today ( above is the outside of the hall I live in that houses about 500 other ladies too.) My roommate is awesome; she is a nursing major and has been here since the fall. It has been good having her to be able to answer questions and kind of show me the ropes. We feel like we've known each-other forever -- a huge answer to prayer and really just amazing that it worked out the way that it did. So I am going to post the pictures and then get back to some homework before I ale dormi. I can't think of much more to tell you; but I could try to come up with more as the 3-day weekend rolls on. I also got my mailing address, for anyone who wants that or my email, please contact my Mom.

A painting that I stole off of John McHoul's wall that is now on my wall

My bed ... thanks for the bedspread, Yonkers! Mom - I painted the B red & used the stickers;
it looks so cute!

My desk ... complete w/ coffee machine; thanks Berg family!

"Food Station" / the fridge that I finally got to stop freezing everything (good advice, Poppy) and to the right my map of Haiti art-work.

"The Judge" aka Baylor himself.

Pat Neff Hall ... an amazing building close to my dorm complete w/ bell tower. Has cool inscriptions all the way around the building. My favorite is the north side which says:
"Wisdom is more valuable than rubies."

Thank you all so much for your prayers and concerns. The encouragement is felt - I am doing very well - better than I could have imagined. I am genuinely happy here and thankful for the peace that I feel amidst the distance of my loved ones/best friends (one-in-the-same). Well, I can't fight the urge to one-up D and end in a Bible verse that has echoed my feelings this week:

"I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise. I live and breathe God; if things aren't going well, hear this and be happy; Join me in spreading the news; together let's get the word out. God met me halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears. Look at him, give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him. When I was desperate, I called out and God got me out of a tight spot. God's angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray. Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see - how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him."
~Psalm 34: 1-8 taken from The Message

Friday, January 18, 2008


Before my inbox is full with messages telling me NOT to write - I figured I'd make a preemptive strike. Tara is right - nothing motivates me more than being told not to do something. It's a personality flaw, I'm sure.

The root of the problem probably lies somewhere deep in my psyche and manifests itself as a problem with authority and a rebellious spirit.

Here is the thing - ok, my excuses - I don't share Tara's love for writing. I like to do it sometimes - but only if conditions are perfect. Perfect conditions being described as follows: the children's needs are all met (no one is pulling on my leg, crying, fighting, hungry, or otherwise demanding attention), my work is all done (the pile of receipts, letters, scraps of paper and notes and to-do lists on my desk are taken care of), the house is quiet so I can concentrate (which only happens late at night), my emails have been answered, and I think I can capture my thoughts with the written word (making sense, not rambling, mixing in an appropriate amount of levity, humor, spirituality, conviction, intelligence, and deep thinking)... Oh, and my hobbies and personal interests are satisfied and I feel like I'm on top of my spiritual growth, meditation, Bible study, and prayer time. These conditions almost never present themselves. Actually, they NEVER do.

But once in a while I'll feel the motivation or I'll be prompted by guilt or a sense of obligation to sit down and write something. When I do, I feel an enormous amount of pressure to get it just right and convey perfectly the stories and emotions and struggles and triumphs we're experiencing. That pressure usually keeps me from trying. I love to talk about it all - and tell the stories...(thanks Dad, I think - sometimes we talk too much, you know?) but I have a much harder time writing. The last name is LiveSAY, after all, not LiveWRITE. I always want to include every detail and interesting tangent. That's easier to do when talking than in print - but maybe just as annoying to the audience either way. :)

I do have notes laying around with blog story ideas, voice recordings and messages and emails to remind me of things I want to tell, but they often don't make it to the blog because I want to craft them into perfect vignettes that capture everything - including the photos and video to go with it. Then the internet or computer issues add to the frustration of putting it all together.
So, there you have it...the rebuttal that turned into a whiny bunch of excuses.

This serves as notice - from here on out my posts will not be perfect. They might not be long enough or include all the details. I might not find the perfect picture or have video to accompany the story. I won't stress over not having a Bible verse to match the content or emotions included, and I might forget to share the proper prayer requests and motivate you to take action. They might not always be funny, and they certainly won't always be perfectly spiritual. I might even missspell a word or use improper grammar and punctuation;;

But I will try to share more. Ohhhh, the pressure is already building...I suddenly want to just go play my guitar.

I'll start with the story of yesterday - not all of it, not perfectly packaged, and maybe not all that interesting. Later, I'll cram in a bunch of shorter stories together so I can cross the ideas off my to-do list and relieve more of the self-imposed pressure.

I visited the prison in Arcahaie yesterday. Rusty Merrit from the mission and orphanage in Bercy was taking a short-term team there along with the pastor and members of their Haitian church. They were visiting the prison to evangelize, pray, and deliver a meal to the prisoners. I tagged along with Pastor Rony and Robenson to observe, try to help translate, and look into doing some prison ministry of our own. The group we were with did a great job sharing the Gospel with some willing to hear it, praying with the inmates, handing out tracts, and leading some worship songs.

The prison houses 210 inmates, mostly men. There was one cell housing female inmates, I'm not sure how many. The rest of the cells seemed to be 10 feet square or smaller and housed at least ten men in each one. There was an open cement yard in the middle, high walls and higher barbed wire around the compound. The prisoners were all locked in their cells during our visit, pushing their way to the front of the cell against the steel bars of their doors.

I did get to see Gerald, the father of Jean-Noah (who recently passed away after suffering from HIV). Gerald is from La Digue and was put in prison last year for murder. He and some others are accused of killing a man over a land ownership dispute. He doesn't know when his court date is, or how long he will be imprisoned. The few men I talked to at length all had similar stories - most are in prison on murder charges - all are totally innocent according to their account - none know when they are getting out. One man has been there for five years, and just received his appointment for his day in court - ten years from now. Another has been there for eight years and has his hearing in fourteen years. From what I know, the Haitian system allows imprisonment while awaiting trial (guilty until proven innocent), and obviously doesn't have a very expeditious trial/hearing process.

The conditions and atmosphere were not as bad as I'd expected. The smells, lack of sanitation, level of harassment and desperation were not any worse than the typical day in Port au Prince. Take that for what it's worth - not necessarily a good thing.

In the end, Pastor Rony and I discussed the possibility of starting a ministry to this local prison - with regular visits from our church members for discipleship and possibly delivering meals. This endeavor falls in line with my hopes and dreams for the mission and our work here this year - I feel a real calling to increase the amount of spiritual outreach and evangelism that the mission takes part in. The Lord has been pressing upon me the importance of discipleship for the Haitian believers and the equipping of them to go and fulfill the Great Commission to their own people. The rest of that story will have to wait, but if you read 'Revolution in World Missions' by K.P. Yohannan you can gain insight into where I'm at regarding missions work. (You can probably order it - free from the website - and read it before I get around to explaining it or figuring out where we're fitting in.)

Then, the rest of the day went like this - a short trip into Port for the afternoon turned into a six hour tour that included the following highlights:

-not feeling like I was in Haiti during a visit to the Toyota dealership
-not feeling like I was in Haiti during an appointment in a finely furnished bourgeois lawyer's office (dealing with employee issues - another story on my list for later)
-not feeling like I was in Haiti standing in a walk-in freezer ordering some imported meat
-feeling very much like I was in Haiti sweating in the traffic and fumes and dust zigzagging through town during the afternoon rush
-buying plumbing and other hardware parts at Eko Depot, but having forgotten my list (on the aforementioned messy desk) I couldn't remember half of the stuff I needed
-and the most interesting part:

I chose a route on the way home that led through downtown Port au Prince and along the ocean and shipyards. (Video to follow....maybe) Once I finally saw light at the end of the traffic tunnel, I zoomed out past the dump trucks, buses, and taptaps, but immediately got caught in another traffic jam just outside the city. It was a Haitian version of the gawker slowdown as we crept past an accident involving a taptap and an old turquoise Ford Probe that crawled out of some Florida junkyard and got shipped to Haiti. I was about to take a picture or some video of all the excitement (fender benders usually result in some top-notch screaming matches around here) - but thought better of it when I saw the gun. I was stopped inches from the side of the taptap that hit the Probe, trying to discern who would win this war of words, when one of the passengers of the Probe elevated the situation by pulling a very worn and rusty looking semi-automatic pistol from the pocket of his dress pants and started waving it around. The picture would have been front-page quality...but...even I'm not that crazy. I moved on once the traffic allowed, and did not hear any shots fired as I crept away.

Now is when I normally would try to insert the words of wisdom and praise for protection and prayer requests for change and progress in this country and our ministry...but I already gave the disclaimer so I feel totally comfortable going to bed. I need to get rested up for more fun tomorrow. Don't count on hearing about all of it. ;)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

When your best just isn't good enough

I have identified a serious problem.

In the past I blogged and told Haiti stories and kept you all up to date on anything interesting that Britt, Troy or Paige had going on ... in addition I tossed in the fun kid stories.

That was a workable option. I was running a small business, I had time to keep up with the action and accurately report it back to you. Things have changed. With the addition of Lydia the milk loving fool, and Annie poops her pants a lot Cleary, and two more kids in school with me for a teacher ... well, this is no small business anymore -- I am running a major corporation. Fortune 500 variety. I don't know if I can keep up with the stories I see and hear. I think my days of keeping you posted are dead and gone.

Here is the deal. Troy actually tells stories very well and DOES know what is worth sharing and what is not, but he is also limited on time. He likes to use his Internet time to look up guitar chords and music, he is not nearly as committed to you, the reader, as I am. All of my Internet time goes to blogs. I am letting you in on a little-known secret so you might be able to convince Troy to write more often. Troy is completely and totally compelled to do the opposite of what he is told to do. It is one of his many personality quirks. If you all leave comments telling him NOT to blog, we might have a chance at hearing from him. Just today I told him I DID NOT want him to hang up the two pictures I brought back from America. This is how he operates. Trust me.

Earlier in the day we heard about a man who turned into a donkey and the people started beating the donkey in anger and fear and then he turned back into a man and the UN police arrested him for burning down a Voudou place on Rte. Nat'l 1. Really. That is the story floating around these parts. Rony told the story, Peter went to check it out further ... both tell a very similar bizarre story --- meanwhile we stand staring at them in disbelief. :)

See, this is good stuff ... if Troy only knew how much we DON'T want him to tell us these things ...

No action on the SuBURDEN (thanks Rick) or the house. One renter came along but we let it fall through based on a really crappy offer. It is easier to not let the stress of these things consume us when we are so far removed (geographically speaking) from it all. Still, it remains a major prayer request. Sell house sell. The propane people billed us for about a billion dollars worth of propane, so we'll be attempting to negotiate with them in the coming days. Apparently propane is now $7,900 per gallon or something.
Today was packed full of action. School went well, the babies did pretty well. Tess made us designer brownies for dessert and Troy and I actually made a real dinner. Everyone really missed the Lipton noodles though. ;)
Britt sounds happy when we talk to her. She emails Troy regularly and says things are great in TX. TO BRITT: Did HE give birth to you? Did HE endure 24 hours of labor to bring you into this world?!?!? I think not. Write to your mother! ;-)
I have big plans of sleeping more in 2008. I am off to work on that plan.

Happy Gotcha Day Phoebe!

One year ago today Troy went to Port au Prince in search of Phoebe Joy and found her! She was waiting for him at an orphanage. That same day he also needed to clarify things with Hope and Phoebe's birthmom and hoped to find her in a city of almost 3 million. Good luck with that.
He walked straight into her about two hours into the day.

I took the other kids to the beach to distract us from our nervousness. Troy called a few hours later to tell us that God had answered each prayer and that at the end of the day he would be coming home with a beautiful 10 week old baby girl.
Phoebe came home with him the afternoon of the 17th; a year flies by - that is for sure!

Above, on web-cam, Greg and Marcia E. at home in St. Paul -- they sang and entertained us for a few minutes last night. We don't even need TV, when we have them!

Isaac and Annie last night. They are full bio siblings, the similarities are many. They both have super long skinny limbs. We're calling Annie our cousin for now until the whole sister vs. cousin thing can be better understood. Isaac likes babies, he thinks she is "wonderful." :)
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

a couple more for Mom ...

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THRICE as Nice

The baby brigade ... Lydia (the white one) at 3.5 months - Annie at 7.5 weeks - Phoebe 14 months.
We have established a plan. Things are unpacked (mostly) and life is good. This morning Troy took off to go deal with issues around town ... visit a prison ... and run to Port. The first thing he had to do was go talk to a guy who we work with. He has a school and Lifeline provides the food for those kids each school-day. Apparently yesterday the food was late, so the guy refused it. What do you think of that? *I* think ... 1. There is no such thing as late here. This is proven over and over each day. 2. The kids wanted the lunch. 3. The guy apparently does not understand the concept of receiving things well. (I hesitate to say it but really: Beggars can't be choosers ... I teach this concept to my children daily.) How about the guy not let his pride get in the way of some kids receiving their lunch. Weird. Troy was not sure how to talk it through while remaining respectful, but he went with the goal of trying. I bet Troy will do better than I might have. There is a reason he's in charge and not me.
Isaac and Hope and Paige are BACK IN SCHOOL. Paige had a nice break and is back in full swing. I have never homeschooled anyone younger than 5th grade and am actually not all that thrilled to do it ... okay -- total disclosure: I was DREADING it. BUT, day one went well.
Hopefully my attitude continues to improve.My two Kindergarten students were VERY excited about things today. We actually had a lot of fun. Our new vocab word for the day: spent. Isaac was spent at the end of our school day. While I homeschool Tess takes care of the baby brigade, it works out well.
Before I go ... I am soliciting opinions on one topic. Share your thoughts and especially share if you are an expert in this area. Isaac and Hope know less Creole than almost anyone, save Lydia. They are not interested in learning. Have not been in the past, still aren't. I think it is a result of being teased by Haitian kids that wonder why in the heck these two kids don't speak the language. Is it a bad or good idea to have them sit in on a class for kids their age and be forced to listen to Creole for an hour or two every day ... or is that pushing it too much. I am totally undecided. I just know that they would have friends outside of Noah and Phoebe if they would learn.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Laptop Ladies

Jen, Tess and Paige on Sunday afternoon. Too much technology? No such thing. Tess's Dad was singing for them on a web-cam ... from Minnesota. :)

Home in Haiti and Welcome to Babyland

So much has happened that I don't even really know where to start. Mainly, it is good to be back here, I love my home here and I did not even know how much I had missed it until I walked in. Sleeping in my own bed again was wonderful ... There is a TON of sorting, organizing, and work to do in the next few days but I think it will be great once we're unpacked and have a plan for the three baby girls ... it is going to be a crazy ride.
First ... Even if Lydia goes on to live a life of crime, and never accomplishes anything at all ... She is a winner in my book. I hereby , this day, declare her the best traveling baby on the planet. She could have made yesterday impossible. So much went wrong that I really needed her to be my rock, she came through with flying colors. HURRAY LYDIA!!!!!!!!!!
The short version without much proofreading or punctuation is what I am offering -
...Church on Sunday was fun, we visited University Baptist Church, David Crowder does their worship --- and we dig his music - that was fun. Later that afternoon we left Waco. The tears were not as heavy as expected, but the goodbye was sad for both of us. Britt is right where she belongs and I really feel good about her being at Baylor. It feels safe, her roommate is nice, the people are nice ... it will be good. So, the dog, Lyd and I headed North to Dallas. By God's grace Lydia did not scream for the two hour ride. She hates her carseat and I was worrying about listening to two straight hours of crying without anyone there to help break the tension. Some moms listen to crying without getting nervy ... that is not me. She slept from Waco all the way to the hotel, she slept through me carrying 200 lbs of crap up to the room and sneaking the dog in --- it was all very out of character for her at that time of day.
I had booked my hotel on That means it was paid for already. I had purposely looked for a "dog-friendly" hotel. The guy who checked me in told me that had bad information and I could not have the dog there. I asked him if he could give me my money back. He said no and told me to sneak her in up the stairs and not let the dog out after 7pm when the owner would be there. Fine. Done and Done. I left the dog and stuff in the room and Lydie and I went and got rid of the rental car. We arranged for a shuttle to the airport at 4am the next morning. When I brought everything back down at 4am on Monday and went up last to grab Peanut the morning front-desk guy TOTALLY reamed me out. I love being treated like a small child first thing in the morning after 3 hours of sleep. We argued and raised our voices and finally he told me to get out and wait outside with the dog and baby until the van came to get us. A real dink. He actually said, "I don't care what your story is." Basically implying that I was lying about how I ended up at their hotel with my dog. If it were not for needing to reserve my energy for the task ahead I probably would have just taken him down to China town. The guy needed a beating.
The van ride was interesting. The poor two people who had to watch us load up all that stuff - I just kept telling them I was sorry. The dog sat on the seat the row behind them.  The Kennel almost did not fit, one more inch and I am not really sure how we would have gotten to the airport.

At the airport a porter brought a huge flat bed cart and we loaded it up. I fought with all my might with the dog to get her to go into the kennel. The strangers in the van watched Lydia for me. Once the dog was secure in the kennel we headed for the AA ticket counter. If I could do it over again I would have immediately left Angela's line based on her first words to me. She did not greet me or say good-morning. Her first words to me, "ALL of that stuff is yours?"

I assured Angela that I came prepared to pay for both the extra bag and the beast. She hated me from the get go. She proceeded to be generally difficult and cantankerous through the initial check-in. She talked down to me like I was beneath her ... normally I might have said something to her right away -- but until that dog was on the plane I was not lipping off to anyone. She informed me that Lydie could not have a one way ticket to Haiti (even as a lap passenger) and that Americans cannot fly one way to Haiti. I found that to be VERY interesting since, Hope, Isaac, Noah, AND Paige all flew to Haiti on one-way tickets. I thought better of telling Angela that either SHE or HER CO-WORKERS were totally wrong. I just agreed to buying Lydia a ticket back to America ... regardless of how wrong Angela was. Then we got to the dog. My good buddy Angela asked for the dog's vet paperwork. Not a problem, I produced it. Angela read it, looked at her computer monitor and looked up at me and said, "You won't be flying with the dog today. This vet note is dated January 4th and it needs to be within 7 days of travel." I almost think she took joy in making that announcement.
I put my head on the counter and started crying. I asked her what I was supposed to do given my current situation? I explained it all. Angela sat expressionless and finally said, "It's policy Ma'am." Angela and I went back and forth for a good 20 minutes until I finally said, "Angela, you are joyless and you clearly don't care about me and are not listening to me, so get my your boss." Angela told me if I was going to talk to her that way (joyless is not something she likes to be called) that I better step away from the counter. I told Angela I was not stepping away and she ought to get her boss on the double.
Ten minutes passed as I waited for the boss. I called my Dad and told him to pray. I called my Mom and told her to try to get the Vet out of bed and see if she would fax us a new letter. I tried to stay calm ... with limited success.
The boss came and Angela tried to make it go her way by telling the story. I asked if I could interject. I told the boss-person that having lived in Haiti a couple years I could absolutely GUARANTEE that not one person would look at the date of that vet note and send me away. I told her if they took the dog from me in Haiti it would be my consequence and a gamble I would take. I told her that I literally had NO WHERE to go (and no vehicle to go in) with my huge dog, baby, luggage, car seat, stroller, carry ons ... etc etc.
The boss person with a heart looked at her watch and saw that the flight was leaving in 45 minutes. She said, "I think it is okay, send them through." Angela never looked at me again. She was very ticked that I got to take the dog on the plane. A guy took me and the dog to a special area to check her. They made sure she had no bombs in her intestines and I was free to go clear security. It was a VERY tense 40 minutes because had they not let me on the plane, I really had no real ability to get anywhere with all the stuff I had and no hotel van ... and Mutton-Chops at the hotel was not letting me back in there!
Angela hates people with a lot of bags/stuff to check. If you're ever at DFW just avoid her line. She also HATES being called joyless. Make a note of that as well.
Meeting up with Tina and Hope in Miami went off without a hitch. Hope said a cute thing to Tina. All along she has heard MUCH about Miami. We almost always fly through there rather than Ft. Lauderdale. When Tina and Hope landed Hope said to Tina, "Is this YOURami?" HA! Tina just smiled and said, "Yep, this is Miami/MYami."
Our flight out of MIA was late -- but we've come to expect that. Once in Haiti the 7 bags, stroller and carseat all appeared on the luggage belt ... and Peanut too. Seeing her come along the conveyor belt made us laugh. She was not freaked out at all, just thirsty. We almost got stuck because of the dog on the Haiti side but I just played dumb American and got out of it. They were totally fine with the Vet paperwork, but I knew they were asking me for an entrance tax ... but I just kept saying "M' pa pale Creole - m' pa comprend." So, no tax - they tired of my routine quickly and let me go. I don't know what the amount was but I had no money by that point - the amount was irrelevant.
Troy and Jen were waiting for us outside. We went to visit John and Beth and to get Annie ... we headed home in the darkness. Jess and Tina are photographed below. Jess has taken care of Annie day and night for 7 weeks. We're indebted to her. Thank you Jess for giving Annie a great start and for loving her.
Tess and Paige are a great team and getting to be good friends too. I am excited to get on a schedule and try to have some order to our lives.... We are days away from attempting that but it feels good to know that because of Tess it might be possible. Below, photos of Tina meeting Annie ... and Tess and Lydie a bit earlier today.
Mom, Mom Livesay, Matt ... everybody else ... I hate to disappoint you --- but I MUST prioritize these babies and get stuff sorted ... Troy tells me he will try to blog, but I doubt you'll hear from me for a few days. Love to all - and many thanks for your prayers. ~ Tara

Monday, January 14, 2008

Home ... but just barely

Holy Cow. What a day. It started off horribly but in the end everyone, including the four-legged creature, made it to Haiti.

We're too pooped to tell you about all the drama and arguing and how much Angela with American Airlines at the Dallas Ft. Worth airport needs to take customer service and conflict resolution classes. From here on out it is my policy not to try to reason with airline people.

Tina met Annie. More on all of this and the Haiti update after we rest and try to find our underwear. Sorry to disappoint the Grandmas of Annie, but I want to sleep - I will put photos of the meeting of Mom and baby tomorrow.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Baby Bear

By Britt:

The Baylor Bears were victorious over the Iowa State Cyclones this evening. Above, an avid fan cheers on her team - taking in her first sporting event ever at the Ferrel Center. Below, the same young lass displays her fright at the arena's volume after each (numerous) BU 3 pointer.

My mom will be traveling tomorrow to Dallas and Monday to Haiti. Please pray for her -- Lydia's expression above also adequately portrays how my mom feels about traveling alone with L AND a very large canine whom I adore.

Posting from the greatest state in the union,

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bear Country Update

Today at a luncheon for new students I sat with a kid coming to Baylor from India. I asked him how he was doing adjusting to the culture. The poor kid looked exhausted and scared. He told me he had been in America for three days. He has to start classes on Monday. I would hate to be him. I figured he had been in America a few weeks or months, no ... He just got the visa to come on Monday.

The other kid we sat with talked super soft and I was straining to hear him over my own breathing - very odd. I gave up on polite conversation because he was frustrating me with his little voice.

The man who prayed for lunch was interesting. And when I say interesting, I mean boring. He is some sort of Dean of something. He was NOT going to be excited. No sir. Doesn't it seem like that is true of lots of educated Dean type people? If you are a Dean of anything you cannot move quickly, speak with enthusiasm or smile too much. I am generalizing as I am apt to do, but really ... I want to see that guy dance ... or just laugh. When he prayed some of the words he was using made me want to cry, especially the part where he prayed for God's providence in the lives of each young person seated in the room. He was reading the prayer, so that made it less emotional for me. Rather than let the words get to me I decided to focus in on how monotone his prayer sounded. Focusing on the wrong things helped me keep the eyeliner where it belongs.

Britt is needing to use every bit of her moxie to get things done here. She made me laugh yesterday when she asked me to wait in the car while she ran in to talk to financial aid. I said, "Okay, sure but why?" She said that when I am around she does not feel like being assertive, but if I am gone she can do it. I was entertained by that. She is using her skills today. She's on her way to meet with the people in her department right now. Lydie slows us down so we decided I better just let Britt take care of business.

The involuntary tears still surprise me here and there. Last night Britt slept in the dorm. She came to love on her dog at about 10pm and asked me if I was okay. I was totally okay, and I have been except for this weird thing where all of a sudden tears are coming down my face but I don't know what started them. When we were at Target yesterday she ran off to grab stuff she needed and I was browsing and all at once there were tears running down my face. No explanation whatsoever. I don't get it. There was no trigger. It's all very surreal, I don't even feel like this is my life. The story goes like this:

Once upon a time a young woman gave birth to a baby girl. The young mom took her baby home from the hospital on a cold and blustery March morning. The mom blinked her eyes once, maybe twice, and it was time to move her baby girl to college. The End.

Tonight we go to some dinner thing where we hope to be seated with people that talk loud and tomorrow we go to a Baylor vs. Iowa State Men's Basketball game. Look for us on ESPN, spotting us should not be difficult. We will be the only ones in the stadium with a baby. :)

Troy? What's the lowdown in Haiti? I am bored with me and this ... throw something fresh at us, would you? Any new photos from around the village to share? Give it over already.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Phoebe - 14 months

Photo Credit: Jess Mayhew


With an entire night of rest complete, I feel like a new woman. Britt loved her roommate and is pumped about life. Dad is currently dragging her things up to the third floor while I sit with a napping Lydie and pray about a handful of things. 2008 is going to be so interesting, I can tell.

My older girls will tell me that I am apt to "over share." If you've read this blog for very long you probably know I am not a private person, never have been. That does not mean I share everything; I don't. Certain things are unbloggable (this word will one day be in a dictionary) and should remain that way.

Sometimes Britt has said she thinks blogs are weird. I do too, only I think they are a GOOD weird. I love the way they connect people with common interests. I have seen first hand the positive side of these connections. We have met lots of cool adoptive parents. We've prayed for them, they've prayed for us. A lady in Dallas helped me figure out a hotel, and answered airport questions. People all over Texas are in place to respond to Britt's needs should a problem occur.

We actually met Marcia and Greg Erickson two years ago through our blog;
(and there were super-cool God connections to them outside of the blog too - they adopted from the McHouls- our friends- and Marcia did the photography for our friends' wedding 9 years ago and they grew up in an area that has a deep connection to my youth -the Iowa lakes area and they have been "doing the Haiti thing" for years)
now their daughter is living with us! God does not do things the boring way ... He is all about creativity and His way of connecting people never ceases to amaze me... And I don't think I am easily amazed. :)

A while back the adoptive parents at this blog did an "open-book" type post. I really enjoyed it! They took questions and whenever possible answered them. With my over-sharing problem there may be not a single question ... But fire away if you're left with questions.

We get a lot of questions via email about adoption and also how we knew we should go to Haiti and how we confirmed it. We get questions about managing a large family ...And I cannot answer those because I would hardly call what we're doing management at this point. But, if you've got an unanswered question, ask away in the comment section, we'll answer as time allows in coming weeks. If the question falls into the "unbloggable" category we'll politely let you know.

I'm off to check out Britt's future home/living quarters and take her shopping ... have a wonderful day!