Tuesday, January 15, 2008

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 hotels.com. 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 Hotels.com 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