Insights into these Shoes' Soul

Welcome to our blog! You'll get glimpses into the fabric of our lives... find out what is happening in our family, learn what our latest adjustment is to life in the US, find out what is going on in our minds, see what makes us smile, and hear what makes us tick. You'll also get ministry updates! We hope these insights into our souls will make you smile, keep you informed and challenge you to pray for us.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Sometimes it’s more tiring to get ready for an event than the event itself.  Between working at the RMI office and being on my own (i.e.: Dawn is away at college!), it took me days to thoroughly clean the house (it hadn’t been done since before my surgery) and get the house ready for the big day.  Our numbers were 16: Dan, me, Dawn, Devon, Amanda & Doug (2 friends of Devon’s), Wes (Devon’s roommate & childhood friend of Devon & Dawn), Andrew (Wes’s brother who came from Ocala), Dave, Rosie & Alyssa (Dan’s brother, sister-in-law & their daughter), Herb & Shirley (Dan’s parents), Ian & Myra (British friends of Mom & Dad) and Pat (our next door neighbor).   We had some traditional American dishes as well as an experimental turkey, real Haitian pumpkin soup, real Cuban flan, and real English trifle.  Yum!  We ate our fill and then some.  But first, you have to see Chef Devon in action.

Then 45 minutes later out comes a finished turkey!  Frying the turkey was definitely the center of attraction for the day since it was first time.  I’ll admit that I had my serious reservations about it!  But with the right equipment and a lot of online study of recipes as well as the do’s and don’ts, it actually worked.  Everyone enjoyed it [but more importantly it was fun and we didn’t blow up the house!] – it was spiced well, was moist and quicker than the oven.  My guess is that we’ll be repeating it. Dawn, Doug, Amanda, Wes and Andrew got put to work making the sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and “pink stuff” (a family salad…well maybe it’s a dessert, no one can tell but it’s made with cottage cheese, cool whip, fruit cocktail and Jell-O powder) as well as other things.  My kitchen suddenly became too small with every bumping into each other. My mother-in-law proved that she loves me by making the gravy again – she makes a mean gravy!  All of us at the “older than 30” table ate way too much.  I know because that’s where I sat.  And I certainly ate too much!  In my own defense…the food was incredible!  Everyone did a great job. The 20something table not only ate their fill, they played volleyball for over 1 1/2 hour at the neighborhood sand court then came home, tore into the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen.  But they weren’t done yet.  After the dishes, they left (like a stampeding herd) to go out to a movie. 

They know how to make a holiday last and last.  The next day most of them went camping for 4 days on the Peace River (a peaceful river about an hour north of us where they go fossil hunting – in the river).  You can see the rest of the pictures HERE.

In the weeks preceding Thanksgiving, our Ft. Myers newspaper asked for Thanksgiving stories.  I sent one in and was happy to see that they chose to publish it in the Thanksgiving newspaper.  Here it is:

The head count for Thanksgiving around our house was usually somewhere from 90 to 100. The menu was as traditional as we could make it….5 turkeys, stuffing (lots and lots of stuffing!), mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top and pumpkin pie. Our front yard was turned into an outdoor banquet hall…lights were strung, tables and chairs were brought in, tablecloths and decorations were set out. It took days, sometimes weeks to organize. Living in southwest Haiti for 25 years, we enjoyed the chance to celebrate American holidays when we could. We also wanted our 2 kids to learn about the various holidays and traditions of their home culture. For many years, every ex-patriot in the whole region was invited to come join us for American Thanksgiving. Canadians, German, Swiss, South African, Congolese, French, and Dutch joined us. Real Butterball turkeys were brought in from the US (as well as many other uniquely American foods). It was a huge potluck with very few leftovers!

We moved to Southwest Florida 5 ½ years ago and to be honest, I was a little relieved to have a smaller crowd for Thanksgiving. Having grown up in a household where hospitality was the order of the day, my kids have missed those large gatherings. Our last few Thanksgivings have included the kids’ roommates, brothers of roommates, and a girlfriend or two. Today I asked our older neighbor, who has no family, to join us. Last week, our 24 yr. old son called to tell me that not only were the usual extras coming, but 2 more friends of his who don’t have any family. (“And mom, we want to cook. Give us some dishes to make…some hard, interesting ones not something that comes out of a bag like a dumb salad!” No problem there. With 10 of the 20 people around the tables in their mid-20’s, you can bet I’ll be putting them all to work! ) So, our tradition of hospitality continues, and is clearly a value ingrained in my kids for which I am grateful.

Well, we didn’t have 100 people for Thanksgiving this year, but we found that 16 was just fine!  In fact the whole day was “mighty fine”.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2 surgeries

Yes, I did have my knee surgery on Oct. 25.  I passed my stress test the week before (hooray) and had the day surgery a few days later.  Everything went smoothly, textbook operation the doc said.  And a few hours later, I hobbled out of there.  When I got home from the surgery, the dog settled at the side of my bed to watch over me and the cats both climbed up to comfort me. Funny how they knew something significant had happened and that they needed to be with me.  Smudge evidently felt I was doing fine enough for him to not only go to sleep while guarding me but snored most of the time!  Dan took very good care of me, but I did test his husbandly resolve when I spilled an entire glass of Pepsi all over me and our bed.  Clean up took all day as he washed my clothes, the sheets and even the mattress pad.  The cats were quicker to get out of the way than I was!  I have been pleasantly surprised by the fact that I’ve had no pain!  There is swelling, but that is going down. I can bear weight on it and walk!  I‘m using a cane just to be safe because I don’t feel like it’s stable yet.  I’m so excited to be doing this well!  Thank you all for your prayers.  It’s great to be back on my feet.

As I was going through the stress tests the week before, my mother was rushed to the hospital near her home in Greenville, SC with a perforated stomach.  One sister, Bea, lives with her, another sister, Carrie, lives nearby and my 3rd sister, Marti, lives about 1 1/2 hours away in Columbia, SC.  All 3 were able to be there as she underwent emergency surgery to fix her stomach and deal with the infection.  It was a close call; she was in ICU for a week.  They were able to get all the infection and she’s been recovering very well.  My sisters took turns being with her around the clock as best they could, putting everything on hold (jobs, husbands, kids, etc.).  We all took each day at a time, not sure if I’d have to scrap my own surgery plans to head to Greenville to be there.  As it became clear that she was responding to the antibiotics and treatments and on the mend, they gave me the freedom have my surgery.  I know it’s has been and continues to be a sacrifice for them to be there and I appreciate them handling things so well!  My mom is now in a rehab center working on getting back her strength and to get where she is able to care for herself before she goes home. [The picture is from the summer of 2009 when she came down to visit us.]
After my surgery, the doc gave me clearance to go to Tampa to Dawn’s Regional Volleyball Playoffs.  They won 3 of their 5 games.  The 2 they lost was to the same team, who happen to be the national champions!  But they made them work for those wins.  We had fun being there and seeing her play some of her best ball ever.  She was smoking hot, hitting hard and putting quite a number of points on the scoreboard.  The team that they lost to recognized her talent and played their games to keep the ball away from her.  She was honored by receiving an All Region Player, 1st team award (which is voted on by all the coaches from the region).  This puts her in the running to receive an All American award next week at the National Tournament!  [She painted my toenails for me in between games – it’s wonderful having a daughter!]  Here’s a short clip, watch # 33!
And I can’t fail to mention that DAWN IS NOW  21  YEARS OLD!!
We are so proud of her!  To think that on Oct. 24, 1990 she was 6 lbs. and on Oct. 24, 2011 she is 6 ft. tall.  Amazing.  I remember that day like it was yesterday….Here’s what I put on Facebook on Oct. 24: Dan & I were ecstatic with the fact that our itty bitty, 6 lb. 13 oz. baby was a GIRL! Born at 6:40 a.m. in a rural Haitian maternity clinic with only bare, 30+ yr. old, essential equipment and a huge leak in it's roof. 3 weeks of solid rain had left 2 inches of water in the delivery room...I was the only one who was dry! The day dawned clear and bright a short time later. We named her Dawn Faith, a name we'd had picked out for 4 years! Our dearest, closest friend & co-worker, Jules, told us she'd been born on a very, very good day. I asked him why was this day was so good and he responded, "Because it's MY birthday too."!
Can you imagine the excitement there was when the 1st white baby in 10 years was born at the maternity clinic?! It was a very, very small building...the outer room was the labor/recovery room & the inner room was the delivery room. That's it, 2 rooms. Once word got out that Dawn had been born, it seemed that the whole village descended on the recovery room. Not allowed inside, they crowded around every window to peer in at the little white baby & her mom. There were dozens of people poking their heads in the open windows. No phones at that time, but by the time we got home 5 hours later, "tell-a-Haitian" had made sure that everyone in a 10 mile radius knew of her birth!  Here she is with Jules when we left Haiti when she was 15.
Happy 21st Birthday Dawn!!

And last but not least…
Visitors are a regular occurrence in our house, but not usually this kind.  This lovely, baby red rat snake literally fell in from heaven Halloween night.  When I opened the screen door to let the dog out for his nightly constitutional, this 14” fella fell from on top of the screen door, down my arm and onto the screen door spring.  There were no lights on and I thought a lizard had fallen on me….until I saw in the dim light that it was much, much longer than a lizard and it was moving and curling up on the spring!  I called Dan, turned on the light, checked to see if it had a rattle at the end of it and if I had been bitten (I was thinking of a pygmy rattlesnake).  Dan grabbed some bar-b-que tongs and put it in a cage.  After we figured out that it was a harmless red rat snake, we wondered if it was Nemo’s baby.  Nemo was a much, much bigger red rat snake that we had for about 3 years until it escaped a year ago.  It’s the spittin’ image of Nemo!  It’s now sitting safe and sound AND secure in the cage on my kitchen counter.  I deserve the “Mother of the Year” award!  I’m saving it for my son.  He wants to raise it.  I say more power to you, just do it at YOUR house this time.  You see, Nemo was Devon’s snake and it lived at my house for the entire time Devon had it.  Your house, Devon, your house!