Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday in Haiti, Coffeedoc posts

A report from Tom, perfect for today, this Sunday:

 So I wondered where we might find a Mass this morning. Our hosts told us that they thought there was a Catholic Church just up the street. Ernest and I walked down there to see really early this morning so as not to miss an early morning mass. It was a church named after Santa Theresa of the child Jesus. Unfortunately, their priest wasn't going to be able to say Mass there today, covering other churches which have been destroyed by the earthquake I believe.

Church of St. Therese of the child Jesus, Jacmel,  Haiti

A man who was there, perhaps the sacristan, offered to take us up to where there was going to be a mass in Cayes Jacmel. We went out to the street and flagged down a "tap tap" which is Haiti's version of a taxi, kind of like the blue and white vans in Ethiopia.
 We drove for several miles and then got out. We walked up a dirt mountain road for another half mile to reach a clearing which was being used as the church since the church building had fallen.
 It was a beautiful service some of which I have video of. Here are some pictures.

Ernest at Mass.
I love you all and miss you.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Haiti: Corporate goodness and update

 Pic snagged from Cindy.  But it's got my Tom.  
On the plane, flying in.  That's Cindy next to him.  Thanks Cindy!

Got a call from Tom/Coffeedoc last night! Skype is an awesome thing.  We couldn't  see each other and the connection dropped a bunch of times, was spotty but heck, we talked with each other...caught up on the week.  Fantastic!

I wanted to mention a surprising bit of corporate goodness.  
It doesn't happen that often, maybe, nowadays and when it does I think it deserves a mention.  Southwest.  Yup, Southwest airlines.  
They did the right thing.

Tom and the team scrambled to get flights down to Ft. Lauderdale in order to meet the private plane down to Haiti. (See earlier post on that fiasco.  Thanks again Mike!) They had less than 24 hour notice to get the flights, gather the food, gear, meds, supplies, change their schedules and get to the airport.  Needless to say, any advance negotiation with the airline didn't even occur to us.  Doh.  
As we pulled up to the airport, my very large suburban loaded to the rafters, to meet the team that had already offloaded another big load of supplies....we realized, uh-oh, this is gonna cost us.  Will they even be able to get the gear on the plane? Bag limits and all.  But there we were and so we were gonna give it a go and see how it played out.  

Well, it played out brilliantly.  
 By which I mean, a Southwest guy came right over to the car, heard that this was all to take to Haiti, and pulled over a huge luggage cart and started helping us unload the car.  No questions asked.  Helping tape up the tubs, fast.  (And, in typical style, we were very late on arrival, WELL inside that two hour, um, one and half hour window...what can I say, it was a scramble).  

Ernest, the CRNA on the team, came out to meet us (He arrived on time, ahem) and said that Southwest had already taken his big huge load of supplies, happily.  So Ernest, started helping too and we had that car unloaded in record time and they whisked tom inside to check him and all this extra stuff in.  I kissed him hard and said goodbye, holding my breath and beginning to tally a guess at the overcharge.  
Tom called me later to tell me the news:
Not only did Southwest help us out of the car in record time, they took every single box and tub.  They didn't blink.  And they didn't charge us a dime.  
They took twenty-three extra tubs and boxes, adding up to a weight of 3/4 ton, and no charge, no trouble, no fuss.  They did it with a smile.  
Now.  That's corporate goodness worth smiling about and worth a shout. 
Good for them.  
So, go fly Southwest Airlines. 
They are doing their part to help too. Maybe in other ways as well, donating and so on.
But this week, this was a real help, in real time, for real people.
I've mentioned that its a logistical nightmare to get down to Haiti to help, much less with almost a ton of supplies and gear.  
But Southwest stepped up and  helped.
And it made a huge difference. 
So, thank you Southwest Airlines!!!
We think you are terrific!

And on another note: Cindy has a terrific update today and some fantastic pics!! (My personal fav, I shamelessly snagged, above)Go see her, it's a great read to start the morning.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Haiti, trip report

Today I got pictures and an email from Tom! whoohoo!
They have limited net, spotty, but sometimes, so he sent me a short email and these pics.
Flying into Jacmel.

They are all doing great, very tired but good.
Tom says he forgot how noisy it is there in the morning with the cacophony of animals! Not much different from home, that...ahem.
Anyhow: here's the Haiti report today:

We're very limited in bandwith but actually have some, imagine!

We've greatly expanded a clinic that was left standing so that is now being used as if it was a hospital. Everything But surgery and two clinic rooms is taking place outside The 2 procedure rooms and another room have been converted into ORs. We and others have brought tons of gear -- we have most but not all things so we have to be creative, but we are doing surgery!

He sounds happy (tired, but still) to me. Surgical problem solving...and getting creative. He's good at that so I'm glad he's there. He does say however that it's crazy hot. And we are having a snow day here, waiting for a 'big storm.' Life is kinda crazy sometimes. But it's all good. And go read Cindy's blog for her report on yesterday, good stuff.

This is the blog

The other blog, I mean.
Not  mine.  But Cindy's.  Cindy the nurse who went with them to Jacmel.
It's called Haiti's Surgery Blog.

She's gonna try to post daily, no promises, but she's gonna give it a go.
And if she can, it will be here{And she doesn't even know me/us, so this blog would be a more objective report. no?  If Tom's causing trouble,  you'll see it here first! ha!}
So, go, read, pray for them too if you're of the mindset.
That's my husband over there (in the pic below, jacket/beard), and I'll appreciate it too.

Cindy is the gal in the blue.  
I haven't met her, but can only guess she's terrific.

This is the orphange/children's village where they are staying.

It's called Hand and Feet and it's totally cool.
I didn't know of it, but now am quite the fan!
It's an orphanage but more a 'children's village" where the kids can grow up safe and educated, in loving homes, in their home country.  Awesome.

Go, read, look, see, pray, support, donate even. 
Great stuff there. 
Heroes on the ground.
One of the fantastic things to come out of a horrendous crisis: finding out about new amazing organizations and people who are quietly changing the the folks behind this children's village.  Just cool.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

This is the Plane

Not the greatest pic, it was early and on a phone..but its them.

This is the plane.
This is the plane that took the team to Haiti.

 This is the pilot.
This is the pilot that flew the plane.
This is the pilot that answered the call.
This is the pilot that answered the call, that flew the plane, that took the team to Haiti.

These are (some of) the pallets.
These are the pallets that are part of the supplies.
These are the pallets that are part of the supplies, that were flown by the pilot, that answered the call, to fly the plane, to take the team to Haiti.

This is the team.
(photo h/t: Cindy)
This is the team that went with the pallets, that were flown by the pilot, that answered the call, to fly the plane, to take the team to Haiti.

You get the idea.  (Sorry, it's been that kind of week, getting punchy.)
It's a team effort and a logistical nightmare to get a team to Haiti!
But I want to throw out a "hooray for you" and special notice to the pilot here.
He answered a call, at the last minute, for help.

Tom and the team arrived in Fort Lauderdale expecting to fly out early yesterday morning (wed the 27th).  The private corporate jet that was scheduled to take them to Jacmel was snagged by, um, corporate stuff of some sort.  So there they were, w/ over a ton of supplies: 3/4 ton medical, food, etc.

All ready to go.
But no plane no plane!
Finally this pilot came through.
ALL the way from DALLAS!
He flew in, and they were racing the sun.
They had to get the plane loaded and refueled in time to land and take off in Jacmel.  No runway lights in Jacmel, of course.  Well, it wasn't happening.  The sun was setting.  But this morning, they did it.

They took off.  Cheering all around.

And the other part that no one will ever see is that this pilot, Mike Gibson, will also make a second trip today.  That second trip is just as important as the first.  All those supplies couldn't fit on that plane, and the team, in one trip.  So he is dropping the first load and the team, returning to Ft. Lauderdale, loading the rest up and flying back to Jacmel.  Today.  Before the sun sets again.  Whew. I'm tired just thinking about it.

Good for him!

Good for him for doing this, at huge personal expense - both time AND money.
So I want to say hooray for him!
If you need a small plane and are in the area,  go use his biz.
I'm thinking he's a good guy, a good egg.

So, Mike, thank you!
That's Michel Gibson,  of Michels Aviation

Coffeedoc and the team did!

And I just got a text, they are in Jacmel, Haiti, safe and sound.  
Thanks Mike!

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Now there are many reasons to be fond of St. Thomas Aquinas, especially here in our little/big family.  First off, of course, there is my dearest Coffeedoc, who, as we all know, is really named Thomas.  Such a great name. 

Other reasons run from loving the Dominicans, in general, and these ones, in the fact that he is a patron of scholars and academics, he was underestimated and considered to be slow; dim even. 

 Our wonderful Nashville them!

Little did his contemporaries know, he was a genius.  A future Doctor of the Church; by which I mean, he is an "authorized teacher" of the Church.   You want to learn good solid doctrine? Go read up on some St. Thomas Aquinas! Anyhow, this silent genius was also made fun of, just like so many of us, he was um, larger than the standard....and between his silence and his bulk he was often called the "Dumb Ox."  Awwww.  That's just mean.  And at University!  Sheesh!

Anyhow, the point being: he is a saint for us all.  If you a hyper intellectual, a struggling student, someone struggling with their excess girth, ahem, someone who is underestimated, bullied, someone trying to live a chaste life (Which we all should, but that's another post.  And get your mind out of the gutter, "chaste" doesn't have to mean prudish or pathetic.), teachers, Italians, aficionados of name it.  In our house we will have a particular devotion to St. Thomas, asking him for prayers for our Buddybug as he ventures forth, all too soon, to study here for a semester. 

But really, almost any way you look at it, or him, St. Thomas Aquinas is a good egg, all around.   

St. Thomas Aquinas is a saint to learn a bit more about, and one much needed in our confused post modern times.

Happy Feast Day!
St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ordinary Heroes?

They are all around us.  Unexpected, surprising...heroes.  
You hope for them, you pray for them.  And then, there they are and you kind of stand there with your mouth open in amazement.  I do, anyhow. 

Two young girls.  My girls.  These are their heroes, mine, ours.  
I'm talking about the teachers, the school principals, the aides, the special ed teams.
I'm finding these folks who are willing to go the extra mile, think outside the box...and they amaze me.
My gratitude for them is kind of unspeakable.
And some of them I've known, or thought I did, for a while, years even.
Some of them are new to me; but I'm so glad to meet them and start working with them. 

And the most important part is that these folks, the reason they are heroes??
It's that they defy the stereotypes.
I'm talking about those horror stories that are hyped in the media and played out in stupid sophomoric movies: the public school ones, the Catholic school ones.  You've all seen them, I have too.  We've been soaked in them.

And it's all too easy to buy into them, just a little bit.  Maybe I did.  Maybe I shouldn't have, but I did.  I was kind of worried about what the public schools would be like as I approached them about my girls.  What sort of things and folks would I find in searching out resources for the special needs that we have?  Would I be able to get the Catholic school, the Sisters and teachers, to step outside their comfort zone of a small private school? The kind of school with strict historic ways and boundaries?  Could those boundaries be pushed?
I didn't know.

But I can now say, that I have been delightfully surprised, thrilled with the amazing people I've been meeting and getting to know.  These are the folks who are working with my two girls, so far, who are helping us all break down some barriers and think outside the box for some great kids who don't fit the 'standard mold," if there is one.  These folks, are helping my girls get into school, get BACK into school....and to succeed.

I've homeschooled a long time. I love homeschool and always will be a proponent of it, but it's a per kid per year per circumstance decision. But homeschool isn't working for these two, now.  So, it's been hard to find the right fit.  And there will be adjusting to be done, to be sure.

But these folks, and their willingness to be open to working with my girls, with us....they are breaking stereotypes, they defy them.  They are ordinary, or actually, extraordinary, heroes.
We are so grateful, for them all:

Nora.  Right there.  Saints among us. 
Sister Peter Marie, Ms. Freeman, Sister Peter Verona, Mr. Linville, Ms. Rosenblatt, Ms. Wehby, Ms. Christy, Coach, Father Gideon at SJV....and of course, Miss Deb.

Mr. Turner, Ms. DeVore, Mr. Verner, Ms. Blair, Ms. Oglesby at RSM

 And Mrs. Swafford, Ms. Ingham, Ms. Ashley, Ms Thomas, Ms. Apple at Howard.  

You are all heroes.  Extra-ordinary folks doing an amazing job.  Breaking stereotypes, opening eyes.  Quiet ones, maybe.  But heroes in my/our eyes!
My girls are back in school again, a new start for them.

A start offered, "whatever it takes;" one done with extraordinary kindness and willingness to help.
Outside the box. 
These folks have brought huge grins and, literally, claps of happiness from my girls.
To be back in school, 'regular' school.
It means everything. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

 The Conversion of Saul
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.
Now, we all know St. Paul, he's a big fish - so to speak.  No matter your denomination, he's a 'heavy hitter.'  But I kind of like that today we are not remembering just him, but specifically his conversion.  And really, this IS one of the really fascinating things about Paul, for me anyhow.  Maybe because I am SO resistant to change.  And Paul, he should be (if he isn't already) the patron saint of change, of stubborn people, of opinionated strong-willed folks.  Oh gee, maybe he's been one on MY patrons all along and I am only now figuring it out.  Doh!

But I digress.  Anyhow.  Paul's conversion fascinates me.  It resonates with me.  Not because I'm all about persecuting innocent folks (I hope. Hush, Jon, I heard that!).  But rather, it's because he was SO sure he was right, and filled with such pride and anger and intent about it all.  It was his mission to search out and imprison Christians-followers of Christ.  He HATED them.

And I find that really so intriguing, and so telling, and apropos of today.  Isn't that just what is going on today? In our modern, oh-so-enlightened, world?  We all do the same darn thing.  Sometimes even to the same levels of persecution and self-righteous surety.  Even the hate.  But the point is just this: Saul/Paul (he was born Saul, of course, and renamed Paul by Christ at his conversion) didn't KNOW.  He thought he knew it all, all about those Christians, all about what they were about.  But he was wrong.  He didn't KNOW them.  His hatred of them was manufactured from his own pride and ignorance and misguided ideas.

Oh.  Ouch.

How often do I do that?  Too often.
How often does the world, the media, the shouting commentator, do that?  All the time.

And I think that maybe we all need to get knocked off our horse now and then.  I know I do.  And really, literally, Saul was KNOCKED off his horse (which I just love, such a great real life thing to happen, sorry Paul, but I do, love that).  Blinded by the light of Christ.  And that light, really SEEING him, and being called by name by changed everything.  It was Saul's conversion.  It converted his whole self, down to his very name.  And he let it.

He let it change him.

That's the second part of this that I have to just sit down and contemplate, for the rest of  my life.  Every day.  And still it will boggle my mind.  Because isn't that the hardest thing? Ok, for me, I think it is.  Change.  I struggle with it, all the time, every day just about.  I resist the big changes, drag my heels through them, or pretend I'm not resisting and steamroll through them to find the new (as close as possible to the old) normal to get back to my comfort zone.  I hate being out of my comfort zone.  Hate it.  But Paul embraced that, in a humbling yet total all-in way.  And in doing so, he changed the world. Whoa. That's something for me to think about.

So, enough blathering.  Enjoy this feast day.  I think it's a cool one, hip and modern in its own way.  Timeless.

Happy Feast of Conversion of St. Paul!
St. Paul, pray for us!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Old Dog, new tricks: potty training 107

New  underwear is so much fun.

Ok, I have to say it.  We've been potty training.  I wasn't gonna post on it, because it's just one of those things, right?  Well, I thought so. I mean, I've done this SEVEN times, right?  (Hence, the 107 in the title...erk) Right. 

But this time is different.  Not only because Gabey is a brilliant sweet charming talented child, and no I'm not biased, thank you for asking.  But it's different because, for the first time ever, it's been a snap.

Now, I hate potty training.  Because my nature is a lazy slug.  And potty training, it's messy.  And inconvenient.  Just contemplating it makes me want to go lie down.  And there are thousands of books on "how-to" and "Secrets-of" and advice out the wazoo.  I think somewhere on my shelves I own at least fifty of them. 

But, little did I know...there really IS a secret to potty training.  Ok, two.  The first one is not so much a secret: timing.  Ya gotta wait until the kid is ready.  I did have a go at it once or twice w/ Gabey over the summer.  Clueless.  Hopeless.  NOT ready.  We bailed.  And ya can't wait TOOO long (that was my mistake w/ oh, most of the others - except Miss M.  She did it on her own and told me after, I swear. At two. Brilliant girl.).  But, it's been cold and snowy and we've been hunkered down in the house and he just turned three.  Plus he's in a phase where he refuses to wear clothes.  So, apparently, it's time. Now.  Whoohoo!

{Yes, my house is a mess, it's that shedding clothes thing, what can I say?}

But here is the "new trick" for this "old dog."  And before I say it, I will point out that I realize it's one of those ridiculous  "everyone knows it but you" kind of things.  And I would also like to point out that I will - evenutally - overcome my resentment towards my friends failing to let me in on this.  And I might, someday, overcome the  humiliation of NOT knowing this.  I long ago accepted I was no "super-mom." This confirms it.  No matter how many kids I have.

So, here it is: BACKWARDS.

Backwards.  DOH! You put the kid on the toilet backwards!! Why didn't someone tell me? Ahem -Jean? Toni? All of you bloggy gals?  You can't presume I know ANYTHING.  I'm a dolt.  I had no idea!  Forget the tiny messy potties and the slippery seats and holding them up on the seat getting a cramp in your back from lifting them....let them climb on backwards, facing the tank!



Ok, apparently, everyone!  This was a light bulb moment for me.
Thank you, finally, Jean.   
Maybe it's a southern thing?
Feel free to sound off here and let me know if its regional so I don't feel like a total dolt (tho I've lived in the south long enough to train a few and no one told me.  Not that I"m holding a grudge, Jean......).  Did you moms know about this?? Sheesh.  Well, I didn't.  But it totally was a light switch for my Gabey.  Ok, and me.  Hey, he can climb up on  his own, check everything out, feel secure.  Very empowering.  Done deal.  He's trained for daytime and almost for night.  In less than a week.  AMAZING!

So, for those of  you who share my prior lack of knowledge, I"m sharing.
For those of you who presumed we all know, you're wrong.
For me, I'm just celebrating.  Whew.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Marching today

It's the Annual March for Life today.
Coffeedoc, Buddybug, Bananas, her best friend, and Marta are all in DC, today, for this.
 {So, because things are hectic (as usual) and I really can't say this differently, I am reposting part of this from last year.}

This is from a year or so ago...I don't have ones fro this year yet, of course.

I try not to get too political on this blog.
But it is surely no surprise to anyone that our family, I, we, are pro-life.
We are Catholic.
The Catholic Church has made it's position on the spectrum of life issues very clear, very simple: All life is sacred. Period. Beginning to end. No matter what, where, who.

And before you get started....I am quite clear on all the facets of this issue, and have worked through different things and thoughts about it all over the years.
But finally and fully, as a Catholic who has discovered the deep beauty and richness in the faith, I realized it IS simple. And for me, though I spent years having long and important discussions on all the angles of this and these issues, finally it hit home in the most visceral way possible.

This is why I am pro-life.
Look, really look, at these faces.
How can I not be?

And while the actual March for Life happens today, the more, the most, important event (some might argue this point, but I would disagree) happened last night: the annual Vigil and Mass for Life. 

 {Last night, waiting for Mass}

Last night at the Cathedral

In the packed Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, with Bishops and religious and just regular folks from all over (thousands upon thousands), all jam packed in to pray. 

[Last night, waiting for Mass to start]

They wait for hours (often 4-6) before the Mass even begins, just to make sure they have a spot. They pray, they talk and then, they pray in community: the Mass.  Even with that long wait, the enthusiasm is not dimmed.  (And, frankly, I believe this is the most powerful method of change.  Marching is good, graphic gruesome pics are off-putting and are not, but prayer is best.  It works.  Coming together in force to pray....priceless.)

 {Last night, waiting for Mass to begin}

There is also a Youth Rally and Mass for Life the next morning (today) the day of the March. Here's a snip from last year.  Our Lady of Guadalupe, protector of the unborn, pray for us

And, if you can't make it in person, your voice can still be heard...this site has a way to "be there" virtually, with an avatar even (how hip), and march in solidarity.  (thanks Shannon!)