Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
First thing this morning, Byron was working on his lesson for church (he teaches the 8 year olds). Reese was "helping" him prepare the lesson on Adam and Eve. She looked at the picture of Adam and Eve and said "Why is that guy wearing a dress?" and "That lady looks like Taylor Swift". So from now on, I'll look at that painting in an entirely new way.
As for Kean-- he is officially the girls newest toy. Every day-- they have to "do" his hair-- and more often than not, it's in a Mohawk. I even caught them using their Barbie curlers on him the other day. So check out Mr. Handsome.
Posted by Lonni at 5:04 PM
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Okay, okay, okay. So many of you have wanted to know (to quote Paul Harvey) "the rest of the story" from my Haiti trip. So here goes.
If you remember, we (my producer, Myra and my photographer, Larry) spent a week in Port au Prince back in 1998 as part of an investigation for KCBS-TV in L.A. We were focusing on insurance fraud-- specifically, people who take out life insurance policies then go to a third world country and fake their deaths. Their relatives then collect on the policies. Haiti has a huge black market/fake funeral industry to service this scam. We flew there to - in part - show how easy it is for one to "die" in Haiti.
We first flew to Miami where we stayed at the Airport Ritz Carlton. In the room next to me was Haiti's president, Aristide. That has nothing to do with the story-- but I found it pretty interesting. This was of course, before he was run out of the country and back in the day when he was still in good graces with his people. There were security guards outside his room in the hallway the entire time I was there.
Anyway, I digress. We arrived in Haiti on a Sunday. By Monday mid-morning, we had paid off a corrupt government official to forge all the official documents to show that I had perished in a car accident. If my memory serves me, I believe I died on April 14, 1998. (The original death certificate is framed and here in my office-- a fun little memento, eh?). And it only cost me (or CBS) $75.
By Monday afternoon, our native guide, Alix had led us to a crooked funeral home director who agreed (all captured by hidden camera) to stage a full-on funeral for me, fill a casket with rocks and place my casket in the city cemetery. It would only cost us fifteen hundred American dollars. What a deal!!!
By the way, he offered to get us a real body to put in the casket for only ten dollars more. We politely declined and opted for the rocks for ethical reasons. Evidently, at the time (can you imagine what it is like now?) there was a huge glut of unclaimed bodies at the local morgue. Most Haitiens could not afford the few dollars to claim their loved ones bodies. The video we took at the morgue of bodies stacked everywhere was ghastly and too disturbing to use in our story.
We paid the funeral director $750 down and were told to pay him the remaining balance on Friday. He said the funeral would be on Wednesday and then he would need a few days to "edit" the video tape of the entire event. He would then give us that video as proof for the insurance companies that I had died. I still have it and the story we filed if you ever have a night where there's nothing on TV.
I know I'm jumping to the end-- but the video tape, by the way was hilarious. It was set to classical music and was full of constant pans, zooms and movements that made you feel like you were on a roller coaster. In short, can we say amateur? It starts out with a "wake" of sorts where 350 of my closest "friends" came to mourn my passing. The funeral director had paid these locals one dollar each to dress up in their Sunday finest and come and pretend to be devastated by my loss.
So the first part of my "funeral" has all these people sitting and sniffling and crying in a reception type hall. My casket (with rocks inside and flowers on top) sits at the front of the room. Some of the folks are so overcome with their sadness at my untimely demise that they fall to the floor and roll around in anguish. I guess that part is our fault. My producer (on hidden camera) tells the funeral director through our interpreter that she wants "lots of emotion" from the mourners.
After about an hour of this, the entire group heads down the street to the big Catholic Cathedral where an older, white Priest drones on and on in Creole. Who knows whether he was in on the scam and knew there were rocks in the coffin. But I got the full treatment-- the smoking ashes or incense or whatever is done. It made for pretty cool video, I tell ya!
From there, the funeral procession paraded through the streets of Port au Prince-- my coffin in an old hearse, a small raggedy band of boys and men playing Amazing Grace on a handful of instruments and a few hundred Haitiens walking and crying and following along.
They passed me several times. Or perhaps I should say- I passed me several times. It was surreal, to say the least.
Finally, we ended up in the Port au Prince City Cemetery where my coffin was shoved into a big concrete encasement. I'm certain the grave robbers who undoubtedly descended upon my coffin that evening were scratching their heads when they found the rocks!
Now back to the "story behind the news story". On Friday, we headed through the teeming city streets to the funeral home to pay the rest of the money to the funeral director and to get our "proof"-- the video tape.
As we approached the funeral home, we could tell and feel something going on. There were hundreds of people congregating around the place. Our driver/interpreter, Alix rolled down his window and asked a man what was happening.
I'll never forget the man's answer: "We are waiting for the dead to come back to life".
We drove on and parked a few blocks away to get the hidden cameras all hooked up and running.
I, being the fair hair and pasty white skin girl-- stayed in the car with my photographer (who also stood out). My producer disappeared with Alix into the crowd. Here's what they told us when they got back.
They made their way through the mass of people, went inside and found the funeral director. After they had paid him and got my tape-- they asked him what in the world was going on.
Before I tell you his answer, you have to remember that 98 percent of the population in Haiti practices Voodoo.
The funeral director told them that a very poor family from out in the country had gone to the local Hoogan (not sure of the spelling but pronounced who-gone) who would be the equivalent of a witch doctor in the world of Voodoo and asked him to use his magic and sacrifice their young son to bring them luck in the lottery.
The deal was struck and the Hoogan was to bring their son back to life after the lottery numbers were drawn.
Well, you can probably guess-- but the Hoogan was unable to revive the child.
And since he failed-- he was considered to have bad magic. The crowd outside the funeral home had just killed him-- by pulling at him. The funeral director said they had pulled his arms off of him and were now waiting for the dead to come back to life!! Not the Hoogan mind you-- the young boy. The people thought that by killing the bad witch doctor, that the spell would be broken and the boy would be somehow saved.
We didn't stick around to see if he revived. We got out of there as fast as we could-- nervously laughing because we were all so freaked out. I never found out how the parents did with those lottery numbers. Or if the boy came back to life.
Posted by Lonni at 10:31 PM
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Reese: Mom, how do I grow big?
Me: Well, you eat lots of healthy food, drink lots of water, play outside in the sunshine and sleep really good at night.
Reese: Aw Mom, this is really taking too long. I want to be big now-- like you.
We won't tell her I said this-- but I hope she stays little for a really long time.
Posted by Lonni at 12:09 PM
Saturday, January 23, 2010
We had a new therapist come to the house Friday morning--- Pat. She is an older woman who is supposed to be exceptional in her field. She specializes in working with babies who have eating and mouth issues. She spent a few minutes with Kean and told me it is no wonder he could never quite get the breast feeding thing down. She said the little horseshoe shaped bone under the chin that hold the tongue (from slipping down the throat-- I think it's called a hyoid)--- well, his is too far back stuck in some muscles. So we are working on some exercises to get it into place. His tongue is also flat on the bottom of his mouth instead of in a trough shape. Pat put Kean on a new type of bottle-- one that makes him work much harder to suck the milk out (and therefore work on the right muscles). She said there is hope that he may still be able to nurse-- but if we had not intervened this early-- she'd be working twice as hard down the road when he tried (and would fail) to be able to eat solids. One other benefit-- Pat says getting his mouth in the right positions and shape should also help with how stuffy his breathing always sounds. No guarantees-- but she'd be surprised if we don't see a difference. I'm excited!The coolest thing she said to me was that if she hadn't been told, she'd never had known Kean had Down Syndrome. And she's been working with special need babies for FORTY YEARS. That comment made my day! I keep thinking/hoping that he will be higher functioning since his Downs is not quite so apparent at this stage. I also had to add this picture for you to see. It's one of my very favorites (thanks Melissa S.)!
Posted by Lonni at 4:32 PM
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I can check one doctor's name off the list for good as of today!!! I took Kean in for a follow-up with the Pediatric Cardiologist to see how the flap on his heart was healing. And we got the best of news-- his Echocardiogram (spelling?) showed his flap is healing right on schedule and his little ticker is working just fine. So so long, farewell to Dr. Emge.
P.S. My friend, Melissa Snyder took the family photos (and the one above) just before Christmas. Since we are mostly housebound, she came over to our place and snapped away. She's just starting up a photography business-- thanks Melissa for putting up with us and the cold!
Posted by Lonni at 3:33 PM
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Unless you're living under a rock, you can't help but be aware of the brouhaha dominating the late night air waves. I've recently found myself quietly cheering on Conan O'Brien. Which is quite the turn-a-round for me.
When I was working in Phoenix, my friend LaRae Kunz and I went to the NFL Experience. Think Disneyland for football fans. It was in conjunction with the Super Bowl being played in AZ. Conan was there by himself and LaRae and I reluctantly hung out with him out of pity. He had just gotten his own show that was airing after Leno. He was awkward, dweeby and a first class geek. (Plus, if you remember, he was being tremendously criticized as a poor, inexperienced choice to get such a plum gig). But since I was on NBC and he was on NBC-- my friend and I felt obligated to be his friends for the night.
Now look at him. Geez, I should've been nicer. Ha!
Posted by Lonni at 4:16 PM
Byron and I thought we were so smart. When we made the big "bedroom" switch for the girls (moved Holland to her own room downstairs and put Reese in with Greer), we thought it would give Greer a chance to step up and be a leader. Greer is our typical middle child: sweet, sensitive and constantly kow-towing to whatever Holland wants. Just to give you a little insight into her personality-- when Greer got shots at the doctors office, she saved her lollipop and sticker to give to her big sister, Holland. In short, Greer idolizes Holland.
Well the big switcheroo hasn't been the successful experiment we had hoped for. Greer wants to sleep downstairs with Holland and Reese and Greer have been scrappin' each night.
So at dinner, we were talking about trying to get along better and told the girls that Greer-- since she is now the oldest in the room, is the boss.
Reese immediately sat up tall and jamming her thumb into her chest announced in a loud, bold voice (several times) "No, I'm the boss, I'm the boss"!!!
Poor Greer just sat there.
Aye, yai, yai!
I pity whoever ends up marrying Reese, the alpha female of our pack.
Posted by Lonni at 4:08 PM
Saturday, January 16, 2010
My heart has ached as I've watched the news reports about the horrific earthquake in Haiti. I have a special affinity for that country-- it's where I picked up the parasites that made me sick for years! So I affectionately look back at Haiti as the country that continues to give after a one week visit!
You see these catastrophic events taking place in these third world countries and you can't help but wonder why they must continuously live such cruel lives-- never getting a break.
Haiti was just finally getting on her feet after being battered by several severe hurricanes in the past few years. When I visited back in 1998, it was and continues to be the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere You can't even begin to wrap your head around the poverty there. One half of the population lives on less than 1 dollar a day.
We saw dead bodies in the gutters.
Children living in lean-tos, shanties and squalor.
I remember leaving the airport and making the long drive on the dirt highway into Port Au Prince.
This is what we saw-- communities living on the side of the roads with dirty blankets and fabric stretched over four sticks slammed into the ground for cover-- a pig or goat would be staked next to where they lived.
Now keep in mind, I was only there a week and the story we were doing focused on a black market, illegal but booming business-- the underbelly of a country.
Posted by Lonni at 3:04 PM
Friday, January 15, 2010
Posted by Lonni at 8:39 PM
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Okay, so have you ever done something so utterly boneheaded that you spend the rest of the day cringing and telling yourself if only....
Here's my "dork-o-la" entry: We draw names in our family for Christmas. My sister-in-law Rachel had my brother Doug and his family for Christmas. As part of their gift she got them movie tickets-- but she bought them at Costco in Texas. So on Christmas eve, I switched them out with movie tickets bought at Costco here in Idaho (good for Idaho theatres). I put the Texas ones in a card in an envelope and told Rachel I'd stick them in the mail for her.
Meanwhile, my mom decided to ship a big box of homemade candies and treats to them and asked us to ship them. Byron ships so much (well, he did before the economy froze up)-- that he gets a discount with Fed Ex. So here's my boneheaded part. Instead of sticking the card in the mail, like I told her I would be doing-- I had Byron tape it to the outside of the box my mom was sending (so it would be tracked by Fed Ex)-- you know how you do that-- with the card having the address and name on it. Well, I forgot to call Rachel and let her know. I just figured (my big mistake) that she'd see the card and open it.
Now the Austin landfill is six movie tickets richer!!! If only I'd called. AAARRGGGGHHHH!
Posted by Lonni at 12:08 PM
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
If you don't get my crack about "gentle readers"... that means you are much younger than me! I had all these great plans to post some pictures-- but Byron left the camera (and the pictures I was going to post on it) over at my parents house. So sigh...
My folks are in Vegas. While they are gone, Byron and his brother Craig are fixing a leaky roof and a few other problems with the house. It's so slow at work-- I'm thinkin' maybe they should start up a "Mr. Handyman" business. Remember, Byron's nickname is McGyver-- and between the two the them, they can fix anything!! Really.
Kean had his big 5 month birthday on Sunday. 4 month birthday if you listen to the Doctor's and do the "adjusted age thing". Kinda strange that he still hasn't ventured out much and met many people and here he is already this old. I figure by the time we get around to blessing him (in the LDS church it's like a Christening), he'll be about ready to start dating and driving! We'll just keep plugging along until Spring. Only a few more months.
Posted by Lonni at 9:01 PM
Saturday, January 9, 2010
It's official. My mother is (in my eyes) MOTHER OF THE YEAR! Listen to what she's done now! Last night, she and my dad took the three girls for a sleepover. Okay, that may not sound like a big deal to you-- but to me it was sweet, sweet peace. Byron, Kean and I hung out, had a nice dinner and then worked on dubbing over my video tapes to DVD. And there are about a gazillion of them. All those old TV stories (15 years worth)--- aye, yie, yie-- you should see my hair styles! What was really fun though, was watching our wedding video from nearly 11 years ago. It was such fun to see all the friends and relatives and how we've all grown old!!
So that's what I'm doing today. More dubbing.
My mom is taking the girls to see a movie: Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Squeaquel. I'll let you know if she survives.
Posted by Lonni at 1:12 PM
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Bless the hearts of all those teachers out there. You know, the ones teaching my hyper, over stimulated children who have had too much candy, too much free time and too much spoilin' over the break. It's so good to be back into a routine (at least for me). I'm much happier. Plus, it doesn't hurt that our hometown Boise State Broncos won the Fiesta Bowl last night. What a fun game to watch.
Here are a couple of pictures from Holland and Byron's great adventure from Saturday. Just the two of them went up snowmobiling (about broke Reese's heart that she's not big enough). I guess the powder was amazing. They only got stuck once-- but it was a doozy.
Posted by Lonni at 9:47 PM
Saturday, January 2, 2010
I have this thing for poetry written by Lord Byron. Knowing the love of my life is named Byron-- it's not too difficult to figure out why. Anyway, Lord Byron once penned "If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad." That's how I'm feeling tonight. I'm a bit blue. I don't know why but I started thinking about those first few days after Kean was born when we first found out the doctors were suspecting Trisomy 21 (and the blood literally froze in my veins). The agony of waiting for confirmation and the nights of wet pillows and wet hair from crying so much. I wonder if it's normal to be traumatized from all that? I read an article a while ago about how parents who had babies in NICU for I think a month or so had tested positive for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I firmly believe that. I still feel scrubbed raw and here we've been home for over three months. I sometimes wonder if there is something wrong with me. I get twinges of sadness and pity for myself when I run to the grocery store (like tonight) and see "typical" baby boys-- all healthy and alert. Kean has these moments where he is on his back and just stares into space for the longest amount of time-- and it frankly depresses me. Other times he will take forever to focus on my face. I guess I'm just feeling vulnerable tonight and needed to vent.
Never have I clung to such tiny milestones as him grasping his bottle, or cooing or smiling. I know everything is much slower and I am so grateful for how wonderful he is doing-- but tonight I'm feeling overwhelmed and are you ready for how silly this will sound???-- I'm worried that everyone will continue to love him as much when he grows out of his cute baby stage and starts growing up. I'm tired of sore breasts and pumping and worrying about germs and his breathing and his congestion and blah, blah, blah.
Okay, sniff, sniff. I've purged most of my black feelings. Some I just have to keep locked up inside. But I've decided tonight--- that I think I'm ready to write down in depth this entire experience that has swallowed up our lives over the past six months. I'm thinking it will be therapeutic and I don't want to forget any of it--- the icky stuff or the sweet miracles. Make me do it, okay?
Posted by Lonni at 9:52 PM
Friday, January 1, 2010
For the first time in my life I'm thrilled to see a year come to an end. There were times I wasn't sure we'd make it. And I know I'm not alone in that sentiment. 2009 has been challenging for most of my friends. So PHEW! It's over. Yes, we're still dealing with an anemic business and mountains of hospital bills and several other stressers-- but I'm optimistic that better times are in store. Last night (at 10 o'clock) we toasted the New Year with grape juice (notice the paper towels-- Reese spilled her glass before we even started-- typical) and set individual goals. I guessed on Kean's goal-- it will be to sit up and crawl. We had some decent snow (now it's turned to rain) but that allowed Byron to take the girls for a little spin in the yard.
Posted by Lonni at 10:41 PM
Before we get to the big event-- I had to show you this picture of Reese. She's been telling me lately she wants to be a reindeer when she grows up. So when she came home from preschool with this hat (it says Santa has 9 reindeer now)-- notice the antlers, they're hard to see-- I decided she is well on her way! Holland woke us up at 2:30 a.m.-- 2:24 to be exact. It's burned in my lack of sleep memory. I told her no way-- go back to bed. Thankfully, she did. And Christmas morning didn't come for us until 7:30. Very, very do-able. Here we are at the top of the stairs waiting for the big go from Dad.
Posted by Lonni at 4:36 PM