Already broken my resolution to post…

Oh well…such is life, eh? I planned on posting Friday, but with a sick little one I just didn’t get to it.

Baby sickness stinks. Let me tell you! And we have been extremely fortunate where this is concerned. We went Ella’s entire first year without a major illness for any of us. Granted, for the first two months of her life we had some tenuous moments with the feeding stuff. She’d gorge herself and throw up, but we all thought there was more to it. It took about 4 weeks to work it all out, but once we did we never looked back.

As soon as she turned one, she got strep throat. Then an ear infection…then another. We’re currently preventing #4. Thursday (1/21) we went to story time at the library and then to a playdate at our friend Whitney’s (Becca). All was well. We came home & I put Ella down for a nap. Twenty minutes later she was up screaming. She hates to nap in her crib during the day and always cries when she wakes up in it, but this was different. She was irate. I went to get her and she was burning up – a fever of 103. HUH??

So off to the doctor where we have every test known to man run to eliminate anything not viral. It’s viral. So home we go with instructions to alternate Tylenol & Motrin every 3 hours as long as her temp is over 100. Then Friday, we’re still hitting 103 at least once every 3-4 hours. So back to the pediatrician we go (their call) to be sure something worse hadn’t developed in the 24 hours since Thursday’s visit. The only difference? Her ears are starting to look gunky (not yet infected) and they don’t want to go into infection #4 so she gets a shot of a powerful antibiotic and we get a script for more oral antibiotic.

We’ve been fever free since Sunday morning and I’m thankful. I’m also thankful to a great mom & hubby who carried the brunt of Ella-care on Sunday. Both Jeff & I were scheduled for praise team and I didn’t want to expose the tiny baby in the nursery to anything so mom came to our house to care for Ella while Jeff & I went to church. Then Sunday afternoon was Christie’s bridal shower. The plan had been for Ella to go with me & mom, but after a diaper blowout during church time, Jeff decided to keep her home. Good call since he had another diaper blowout that afternoon.

Yesterday we only ventured out to the library (quick visit for me to pick up a hotly sought after book) and Target for needed essentials (like wipes). Other than that we were home in sweatpants.

Today, my mommy friends convinced me that being fever free for 48 hours meant it was okay for Ella to play so off to the playdate we went. It was a lot of fun and I really like my mommy friends. They are wonderful. Thursday we’re going to Maymont to see the animals before the weather predicted for the weekend.

Wouldn’t you know it – they are calling for a FOOT of snow and Jeff had bought me tickets to The Wedding Singer musical for Christmas. Oh…my present better not be ruined. I may cry. Oh well…

Oh – and Ella has a black eye! Our world is fun. You should join us.
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Haiti

Haiti holds a very, very special place in my heart.

When I was 19 years old I desperately wanted to take a mission trip to visit friends who run a school in Ghana, West Africa. I begged and pleaded with mom, but there was no way she was going to send me that far away by myself. So we compromised. We knew a family who was living in Port-de-Paix, Haiti and teaching at a school called Sonlight Academy. I would be allowed to go visit them if I wanted to. It was a compromise I agreed to partially because I loved the family I was going to stay with – Scott & Debbie Taylor and their two kids, Hilary & Evan. I had babysat Hilary & Evan before they left for Haiti and thought it would be fun to get back in touch with them.

We scheduled my trip for December 1997. I was going to go for 10 days and help in the school while staying with the Taylors. I was nervous and totally excited.

I quickly learned the term “island time” meant nothing follows any schedule (something I enjoy on St. John now, but it made my 19-year-old self very upset). The flight from Miami to Haiti had been delayed by about 7 hours…meaning I was going to have a TEN HOUR layover in Miami instead of a 3 hour layover. My uncle had planned to come sit with me (prior to the restrictions of non-ticket holders at the gates), but ended up taking me on a tour of Miami and out to eat to kill some of my time. Thank you, Uncle Marshall.

When I finally got on the plane to Haiti, my heartrate sky-rocketed. Was I really sure I was ready to do this??? It was dark as we flew into Haiti. Though mostly dark, there was a small village on side of a mountain with electricity. My first thought, “A city on a hill can not be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14) Isn’t it amazing how God speaks to us in times of need?
My anxiety was alleviated once I saw Scott Taylor at the airport in Port-au-Prince. The same airport where I’m now watching planes from all over the world bring aid and aid-relief workers.

Scott got me through customs and got my passport stamped. Then explained to me that instead of taking a small plane to Port-de-Paix (PdP), we were going to spend the night in Port-au-Prince (PaP) and then take the BUS to PdP. We stayed at a small hostel in PaP where many American missionaries stay the night before or after a flight out of/into the country. There was an armed guard with a large dog at the locked gate…my first experience of this type. There was a pool, though we didn’t swim, and a beautiful fountain. Everyone staying in the house used one bathroom. As I sit here now, I have a horrible feeling that the house where I slept (or didn’t sleep) that night is no longer standing. I’m wondering what happened to my very kind hosts.

The following morning, Scott and I were taken to a bus stop for our trip to Pdp. There were dirty children everywhere begging for food and for money. It was awful. Scott told me there was no way I could help the all. It was heartbreaking. Now I sit and wonder…what happened to those children? Were they still alive this week when the earthquake hit? I know they are no longer children, but they may even have children now…
We boarded a school bus full of people and wildlife…goats, sheep, dogs, chickens, etc. It was straight out of a movie. Even the aisle had stools in it. Scott had paid for us to have FOUR SEATS which meant that the two of us had a whole school bus seat to ourselves. Yes – a school bus seat. As the bus pulled away from the stop, a shadow of the bus appeared to my left. THERE WERE PEOPLE ON TOP OF THE BUS where my suitcase was. Oh my!!! I looked at Scott with panic and he told me that for the price of 1/2 a seat, you could ride on top of the bus.

Now, in the U.S. this bustrip may have taken a few hours (including stops), but in Haiti the roads are awful. We were on a paved road for a while, but then the pavement ended (go US) and we were traveling on dirt. The trip took 10 hours…on a school bus…with goats & chickens. It was WONDERFUL!! I bought sugar cane from a child who ran alongside the bus tapping the bus with the canes. (note: watch for splinters in your tongue when eating sugar cane that had just been chopped) I had never seen anything like it. When the bus stopped to refuel, we got off to stretch our legs and I experienced one of my favorite Haitian treats…Banan-a-fui…or banana of fire. It was plantain sliced lengthwise and grilled topped with something hot. I’ll never recreate it because I have no clue what it was. But it was delicious.

As we traveled, the driver had the radio on a Haitian station and the music was fun. Then suddenly, at some point in the trip, the radio announcer came on saying something in Creole that caused the whole bus to go crazy. People were crying and then listening carefully as the report continued. Scott explained to me that a very important official in PdP (where I was headed) had been assisnated overnight. The plan for my arrival in PdP changed, though I have no clue what the original plan was.

When we got to PdP, I was instructed to get off the bus and RUN to a doorway on the other side of the street. Scott would get my bag. I did just that – there was no question after seeing the near-riot in the street where the bus stopped. I ran into that doorway and the man inside said to me, get under this counter. I did that too. It wasn’t too long before I was loaded into the back of closed SUV (like a dodge ram, maybe) and taken to the Taylor’s house. It was scary, but exhilarating.

I didn’t spend much time in Port-au-Prince on my arrival, but I did get to see more of it when I left…
Yes, I’m skipping my entire week in Port-de-Paix. I’ll post about that another day. It was a wonderful week and I have always longed to return and teach at Sonlight Academy. Maybe someday…

When I left Port-de-Paix, Scott thought I deserved to go the easy way this time (i.e. no 10 hour busride). They took me to the PdP airport…a shack with a dirt runway…where a TINY plane was waiting. There were 11 of us on that plane, counting the pilot & co-pilot. I have never been so thankful for the kindness of strangers…there was a Mennonite couple who traveled back and forth to Haiti on a regular basis and spend the time between leaving PdP and getting on a plane in Port-au-Prince helping me along so I didn’t get lost or overwhelmed.

We got in the air (surprisingly) and the pilot TURNED AROUND (no speakers here – TINY PLANE) and said that some of our gas had been ciphoned and we would need to make an unplanned stop to refuel. It was actually scary since at one point, the plane actually sputtered. I looked out my window at the mountians beside me and thought, “I lift my eyes up to the moutains. Where does my help come from? My help comes from you, maker of Heaven.” (Psalm 121:1-2) We stopped in Cap Haitien, Haiti to get gas. It was BEAUTIFUL. Oh my…
Then, reboarded the TINY plane and headed to PaP. Once there, we landed at some tiny airport that wasn’t the main airport where I needed to be!! Again, the Mennonite couple shuttled me into a cab and over to the main airport where their flight was getting ready to leave. I had a few hours to kill. So I shopped. I got a lot of Haitian keepsakes there that I hadn’t had an opportunity to even know existed. My favorite purchases? A statue for my dad which sits in his office at church though they picked on me that it was a voodoo statue. A mask for Karen Fletcher (single at the time) that we all joked was a fertility god. And a Haitian navity set for my mom in which the stable is a coconut.

I met a lot of people on my trip in and out of Haiti. It breaks my heart to think that some of those people could possibly be in that mass grave of an estimated 40,000 people – unidentified – lost. I think that is a part of the reports that break my heart the most. Burial is an important rite no matter what your religion or belief. The thought that people will never know what came of their loved ones really gets under my skin. CNN had a family on this morning whose mother was in Haiti and died in the earthquake. They have no clue where her body is. They are begging for someone – anyone – to find her body and return it to them. And how is that someone supposed to find her? What if she is already in the mass grave? What if they never find the body of their mother? It is devastating…

Please, please pray for the people of Haiti. Please pray for the aid workers striving to bring help to those people. PLEASE PRAY FOR THE CHILDREN!!!

I nearly adopted a child the week I was in Haiti. There was an orphanage in Port-de-Paix that was closing and they had an infant that had yet to be adopted. I called home (during a moment when the lines were functioning) and told my mom I was going to adopt him. I didn’t…but I almost did. Someone else took responsibility for him.

I saw many things during my 10 days in the country of Haiti and I have never been the same. There isn’t a day when I don’t think about Haiti and returning to teach there. It calls to me…
The earthquake this week is making my heart break. I want to go there and hold those children. I want to sign up to adopt a child who has been orphaned by the quake. For now, all I can do is give & pray. I encourage you to do so too.

Wow…a lot has happened in FOUR MONTHS!

Hello Friends…Sorry I’ve been a bit absent for FOUR MONTHS!!! A lot has gone on since that last post in September. I’m taking inspiration from Kristen and I’m going to blog more.

Let’s see…where to start…
How about a New Year’s Resolution? That I’ll post at least once a week. Feel free to email or text me if I haven’t posted and it is Friday. Maybe I’ll need the reminder.
Since that last post, Ella and I have been meeting up with Amy (Jackson) and Whitney (Becca) along with another mom, Bridget (Nate), at least once a week – except for Christmas/New Years. Including Nate, all the kids are within 6 weeks of each other so it makes for good conversation and it helps to have all that encouraging feed back. Ella can almost say “Jackson” now.
—insert 30 minute break for screaming toddler up from a 30 minute nap—
So, what was I talking about? Oh yes – our playgroup. We all met through Richmond Mommies (RM) and it is a great group! I highly recommend RM for all new moms who are the first mom in their group of friends or when you find that your friendships change after you have a kid. You’ll find a group of mommy-friends who understand all you’re going through.
Okay, moving on…A LOT has happened since September. If you aren’t on Facebook, join and friend me so that you can keep up with us and see what you’ve missed. I update their Monday-Friday and occasionally on the weekends.
First of all – Ella has a cousin!!! Jerry & Kristen welcomed J.J. (Jerry Alvin Stone, IV) on September 30. Ella likes to look at her baby cousin and I’m sure she’ll like him more once he can move about on his own. Hopefully she’ll be better at sharing by then, too.
Halloween was so different this year. We didn’t go anywhere because we like to give out candy to the few kids that are trick-or-treating age in our neighborhood. Ella was dressed up as Cinderella – a costume her Uncle Warren bought for her.
Less than a week after Halloween (11/06), Ella turned ONE! We had a big party for her at the church – there were so many people we couldn’t have it at our house. Mostly it was family, but we did invite a few friends including Alastair Amos & her new friend, Jackson. She had a great time at the party and was in a great mood the whole time. What more could a mom ask for?
Thanksgiving took us to Nags Head to spend a couple days with my mom’s family. And next came Christmas. Christmas this year was a lot of fun. First, we got our tree up and put ornaments on it. Ella loved looking at the tree (and still does since it hasn’t come down yet). She also enjoyed the present aspect a bit more this year. She still doesn’t understand the whole unwrapping thing, but had a lot of fun playing with her new stuff as it was revealed.
She also enjoyed the time with her Uncle Warren & Aunt Rachel!!!