Wednesday, May 26, 2010


The work in the yard continues.  James tried removing some of the larger bushes, but he called it quits.  I don't blame him!  Those bushes have been there for years and they have a deep, complex root system.  I'm glad he tried.  The landscaper will be over in a few weeks to remove the rest and replace it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The things we do for our pets. . .

Daisy is our Border Collie.  She's about 8 years old, and she was a rescue dog.  Her left hip had been broken before got her, but it hasn't bothered her much.  James took her to the vet for her annual shots in early April.  The vet did some blood work on her, and it revealed that her one of her liver enzymes was elevated.. We were concerned.  The elevation could be a sign of cancer, Cushing's disease, bone growth or bone degradation.  I took her in for X-rays on Friday.  She also had her teeth cleaned.  There was a tiny spot on one of her lungs that might be cancerous, so she'll be going back for x-rays again in a month to hopefully rule that out.  The vet is more concerned about her hip.  She has arthritis now, and that could be what is causing the elevated enzyme level.  The vet recommend that we put Daisy on a diet and do range of motion exercises with her.  We already monitor how much food she eats and we walk her when the weather permits.  We're supposed to fed her green beans now with her dog food.  I tried that for the first time today, and she was not impressed.  After smelling what was in her food bowl, she looked at me like I was crazy.  Lily enjoyed it very much, but she will eat almost anything - especially if it was not intended for her consumption.  Our vet prescribed a medication to treat Daisy's arthritis.  It's an injection, and it's not too costly.  After the initial loading dose, it'll only be about $100 a year.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reflections on our Adoption Journey

This is part two of a series of posts about our how we got started on the road to adoption and some things that we've done along the way that I didn't have time to write about at the time because I was swimming in a sea of paperwork.  You can find the other post here.

In September 2008 I had the opportunity to the Women's ministry fall kick off at The Bible Church of Little Rock.  That was the church we attended when we lived in Little Rock.  During the first evening, I got to talk with a friend that had adopted not one, not two, but three little African-American baby girls after she and her husband had grandchildren.  I told her that James and I were considering adoption and asked if she had any advice.  She was happy to hear that we were thinking about it, and had nothing but good things to share about her own experience.  She asked me if James was "on board" with adopting.  I told her that he was.  She told me that she thought we should do it.  She said that God brought us together for a purpose and that He had placed that desire in our hearts.  Those simple words meant so much.  Those words helped alleviate some of my concerns.

Another thing happened around this same time at the church we were attending in St. Louis.  The senior pastor made an announcement about a family he knew who were adopting from Ethiopia.  I didn't even know you could adopt from Ethiopia at this point, and that is when I starting considering it.

January 18, 2009 we attended a Sanctity of Life service at the same church.  There was a representative from Bethany Christian Services there.  I picked up a few brochures and chatted briefly with the representative.  A few days later we went to a informational meeting for prospective adoptive families.  Our parents knew at this point that we had thought about adoption, but that was it.  We wanted to wait until we felt like we had firmer plans in mind before we shared the news with them.  James' mom called his cell phone just before or just after the meeting.  We were standing in the parking lot.  Part of me wanted to tell her what we were doing, but we knew we should wait.  We didn't want to give our parents false hope for a grandchild.  The meeting was helpful, but we still had a lot to think about.  Information was presented on all of Bethany's adoption programs - international, domestic, and embryo.  We got to hear from moms who had adopted their children through each of those programs.  At this point, we were not sure if we wanted to pursue international or domestic adoption.  We took some packets of information home with us and found out that the next step for international adoption would be to submit a preliminary application to see if we meet the agency's criteria to adopt.

More to come. . .

Friday, May 21, 2010

One more post about Haiti

On Tuesday during our visit, Cardinal Sean O'Malley from Boston came to Milot.  We passed a group of school girls on the road on our way to watch his helicopter land.  What adorable girls!

A group of children assembled to sing for the Cardinal, and a young patient was chosen to present him with flowers.

He arrived in his Franciscan robes.

Mass was held outside of the patients' tents.  A choir led the procession in.  They sang in Creole, and it was beautiful.  I recognized the melody to some of the songs.  I wished James or my mom had been with me.  They both have a more musical ear that I have & they could have named the hymns.

One thing that amazed me was the ability of the women to balance items on top of their head while they walked.  I don't know if that coffee pot was full or empty, but I was impressed anyway.
We had a good trip, but I was glad to get home.  It is never easy to be away from James.  This was the first time I had traveled outside the country without him.  I realized just how much I depend on him daily.  His absence was felt from the start of the trip - from not having his help with my bags to not having him "to come home to" after the day's work was done.  When I'm having a rough day, knowing I'm going home to him is my motivation to get through it.  I called him every other day, which helped a lot.

Some of the other things I missed were milk, my pastor's sermons, and my dogs.  We didn't have any dairy products the either time we were in Haiti. . .no milk, no cheese, no yogurt.  There were lots of goats, so I'm not sure why there was no goat's milk or goat cheese available.  Maybe there was no facility where it could be processed?  A lot of our pastor's sermons are available online, and I usually listen to one of his older messages while I exercise.  I could have downloaded them on my iPhone, but I would've had to pay for it, and I tried to keep the phone bill to a minimum.  James sent me two emails during the week that were "from the dogs" along with a photo.  He brought them to the airport with him when he picked me up.  It was good to see them again.

Thanks again for your prayers.  There were times when they were felt.  One of those times was when we were about the leave the airport in Cap-Haitian.  Our plane to Fort Lauderdale was ready, and we were heading home.  We had to show our passports several times at the airport and get it stamped.  There was an immigration officer standing at the doorway that lead to the plane.  He had to him our passport one last time and then we could walk to the plane.  We all made through, only to be sent back inside by our pilot.  The airport had not finished the necessary paperwork.  So waited some more.  They called for us to board again.  We got our passports out again to show to the immigration officer.  When I stepped up to show him my passport.  He said "stop" and started yelling at his staff in Creole.  I had no idea what set him off and I was scared to leave.  Would he come after us?  One of the nurses that we worked with was standing outside and she told us to come on out.  So we did.  I don't know what that was all about, but we were glad to get in the air!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Apricot-Galzed Salmon

This is a good recipe that I found at Taste of Home.

    * 6 salmon fillets (4 ounces each)
    * 1/4 teaspoon salt
    * 1/8 teaspoon pepper
    * 1/3 cup white wine
    * 1/3 cup apricot spreadable fruit
    * 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

Place salmon in a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and  
pepper. In a small bowl, combine the wine, spreadable fruit and ginger; spoon over salmon.

Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.Yield: 6 servings

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Souvenirs from Haiti

The road between the compound we stayed at and the hospital was lined with vendors selling their handiworks - or handiworks of their friends.  I tried to buy at least one small item from everyone.  The items in the picture above are made out of  wood.  There are no zebras or elephants in Haiti - think the local make these items because tourists are suckers for them!  They will also tell you that there are elephants, "on da uddter side o de mountain."

These are lovely hand painted cards.  I am amazed that these didn't get bent on the flight home.  They were in my camera bag.  I'm thinking about framing them.

I bought several bracelets.  I have another one that is made in the same fashion as the one below, but it has my name on it and the colors are black and lavender.

These two pieces of metal art are currently on my dining room table.  There are cows and lots of lizards in Haiti.

I bought a couple of paintings.  I should get these framed.  The one above is a painting of the patient tents.

I bought several sets of these necklaces in different colors.  They are made out of beans and seeds.  Some of them are coco beans, some are coffee beans, and I don't know what the red seeds are.  

These two items are my favorite things.  I think they are both made out of mahogany.  The mask is going to hang in our basement, and the mortal & pestle is sitting in our entertainment center with the other two I have.
Side 1

Side 2

The pestle

I brought back gifts for my mother and my mother-in-law, but I have not seen them yet to give them their gifts, so no pictures yet of those things.

I was amazed that I fit all those things in my suitcase.  I had some room because some of things I had packed were donations that I left there.  I still had to pack carefully, though!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Just before I left for Haiti, James and I met with a landscaper to get an estimate for replacing the "flower beds" in the front yard.  They are in such a mess, it is a stretch to call them flower beds.  That conjures up much too nice of a mental image.  We agreed on a price, and the landscaper is going to start working soon after we get the plants that are there out.  James removed three of the smaller bushes yesterday, here's what the yard looked like after that.

That tree is a dogwood tree, and we are keeping it along with the daylilies.  The yard doesn't look so bad from the photos, but there are lots of weeds and if you look closely, you will see where a round area of the grass was scorched during last week's crawfish boil.  Oh well, that grassy area is coming out too.

This sad little bush is in front of our garage.  It is so ugly.  Last spring, it was much larger, and much greener.  It was so big it was encroaching on the driveway, and my pants would get snagged in it when I walked by.  I got tried of that, so I decided to trim it.  I did not know that the green parts would not grow back.  It is going to be removed as well.

Today I spent about half an hour trimming the bushes down.  I did that so we could see where the base of the bushes were.  It started to sprinkle, so I had to call it quits, but I got a little done.

I found out that bush above was actually two bushes.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sights of Milot

Milot was the name of the town that we worked in.  We were able to squeeze in some time for sightseeing.  We hired one of the Haitian translators and an employee from the hospital to serve as our tour guides.  The first thing we visited was the cemetery, maybe an odd thing to tour, but it was interesting.  It reminded me of the cemeteries in New Orleans - which makes sense considering the Creole influence in New Orleans. 

There were some disturbing things to see there.  According to our translator, after a person has been entombed for 15-20 years, the family will remove the body and burn it and the casket.  This is done to make room for another casket of a recently deceased family member.  We saw a casket that had been removed, but not yet burned.  I had to maintain my emotional distance and just observe the situation from a cultural aspect.

On a lighter note, the other tour we took was the San-Souci palace that was built in the early 1800.  Wikipedia has a good article about it here.

It was about a mile or mile and a half from the hospital.  I went with three other women and our two Haitian tour guides.  It occurred to me while we were at the palace that I had just done something that I would never do here in the States.  I was in a remote area with no American male, no weapon, no idea how to contact the police or hospital if we had an emergency with two Haitian male tour guides that I had know for a few hours.  I did have two nurses with me.  I felt totally safe the entire time.  The Haitian guides were thankful for the work we were doing and they wanted us to return to Haiti with our husbands and stay for a while.  As I said my goodbyes to one of the guides, he told me that he would pray for me.  When's the last time someone that you did business with here told you that?

These are a couple of murals in Milot.  The one above is of the citadel in Milot.  We didn't have the chance to tour that because it was quite a bit further away than the palace.  It was built during the same time period.  The mural below is across the street from the hospital.

This is the front of the hospital.  They were able to perform some complicated surgeries and they had the ability to do lab work and x-rays, but there were things about it that we rather primitive.  For example, they kept a fly-swatter in the ICU to swat the flies in the ICU.  That is unheard of here.

I mentioned in a previous post that the roads where in terrible shape.  Here's an example.  The entire road was like that, pothole after pothole.  The picture below is an example of the public transportation.  It looked rather unsafe!  After being on those road, I don't think I'll ever get unnerved about a traffic situation here in the States.  If you were walking, you had to be constantly on the look out for motorcyclists.  Most of them were good to honk and let you know that they were behind you, but not all of them did that.  If you were riding in a vehicle, you better have taken some Dramamine before you embarked.  It was an incredibly bumpy ride.

This is a the Catholic church near the palace.  Services are still held there.
This man was one of the street vendors.  He sold bracelets and paintings.  He gave Amanda a pineapple.