Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Disaster Relief in Charleston

Good deed for the day!

Last Wednesday I was asked/told I was needed down in Charleston for the disaster relief. Haitian-Americans were being flown into the Charleston International airport and we were needed. It is made very clear to DSS employees that if there is a disaster (hurricane, tornado, earthquake etc) we are to be available to help, no choice, no excuses. So when I was told about this, I halfway volunteered because I knew that I could stay with Lindsey and they wouldn't have to spring for a hotel. You know we have to make cuts! :)

Wednesday afternoon I had enough time to get in touch with my Junior Woman's Club for donations. I was also able to get some donations from some of the Columbia employees of Gateway. It was very last minute and I was surprised what ended up on my front porch. Everyone was very generous!

Thursday was an early morning. Me and another co-worker, Ebony Thomas met at work at the wee hours and left for Charleston around 4:30am or so. Walking into the station that was set up to receive the Haitian-Americans was strangely over whelming. It was the same feeling I got when I was on the interstate during Katrina and saw SCE&G trucks, one after another going down the highway to help. It makes you proud! I didn't have time to stop and take all of it in, we were quickly escorted to sign in, meet the "guy in charge" and sit down for a debriefing with all the departments. The departments included, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, DHEC, DSS (Several divisions including ours, Child Care Licensing), A Medical Team and I know there were more that I was not able to see. Everyone was ready, waiting for the first flight, "smiles everyone, these people have been through hell and back."

Homeland Security level is 'Orange' right now, which means secrets. We didn't know until 30 minutes before the plane landed if a plane was landing, how many people were on it, number of children, number of military, number of civilians etc. That made things very difficult. We completely understood, but it was still very hard. Thursday's flight did not have any children. We didn't have a chance to do any kind of dry run. It did leave us time to set up or station they way we needed it. We had our make shift changing station. We had porta-cribs set up and a cozy area. We had games and coloring books and markers for the older children. We were ready.

We left the airport at 5:00pm and we were told, "your on-call, next flight is scheduled at 2am." There is always a chance that the flight a) has no children on it, b) is full of military or c) doesn't even come in. Since I had been up early that morning anyway, I tried to go to be early. 1:15am, the phone rings, "ok, I'm on my way." Splash some water on my face and honestly put a little bit of make-up on because I have never seen so many good looking law enforcement and military in one room in all my life. I wasn't going in there looking like death with my natural Lebanese dark circles and bags from so little sleep. With a fresh Mountain Dew in my hand I was ready to work!

A 10 yr old named Patrick was our first child! We were all very excited and may have actually scared him a little. He was great! He spoke both English and Creole. People in Haiti speak both Creole and French. We had interpreters there but as you can imagine they were being pulled in every direction. Patrick came to us around 2:30am. He stayed with us until his flight at 12noon the next day. We had 17 children that day. We had only one child acting out. He was being very aggressive towards the other children as well as towards the staff, mainly me. He bit me twice on the hand, two separate times. It didn’t break the skin; he didn’t have enough time to. Unfortunately with situations like this caregivers/volunteers are very leery of correcting the children. Earthquake or no earthquake, we don’t bite people. And I was the only one who would do this. So I was assigned this child. The funny part of the story is this; he and his mother spoke Creole. She kept calling him Garson’ (imagine with a French accent) so that’s what we called him. Turns out that means “boy” in French. So what she was saying was “BOY, you better stop it” or whatever. So all day long we were calling him boy, poor child. Found out later his name is George. We also found out that they were traveling here to Columbia and he will be in a child care center in Richland County. So I may see him again!

Amazing things from that day: children that didn’t speak a lick of English singing, in English a song that came from a play Backyardagins guitar. Actually one that Lindsey and Tab gave Trevor for his birthday. Sam donated it. You press a button and it sings a song. They were singing it, amazing. The hugs and kisses I got from these 10 year old boys when they left for their flight to Miami. It was a lot harder to say goodbye then I thought it would be. And then Patrick, who I had grown close to, he was my buddy all day! I’d look over at him during the day and see him shaking his head saying, “Haitians?” The minute I was getting a little sad that he was leaving Patrick said with a French accent, “Jennifer, I’ll see you when I’m 21!” He was a hoot!

It was an amazing experience. I was lucky to have Lindsey and Tab there to stay with so I could help all weekend. I got back to Columbia late Sunday night. I have volunteered to go back whenever they need me and I am looking forward to it!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A New Year on Manor Avenue

Charlie and I celebrated Christmas for the first time at the new house. I was lucky enough to have my Columbia girlfriends come over to my house for our annual gift exchange. I even got some new ornaments for my Christmas tree!
We are in a new year now and it was time to focus on my housewarming. I think I was more excited because I knew it would mean I had to get things put together, it made me pick up the pace a little more. I stayed with the rooster theme in the kitchen, luckily mom has lots to choose from when it comes to roosters. She let me borrow a lot of her stuff! It's exciting to know that generally I am done with things. I still need to hang pictures in the green room and above the kitchen table. But beyond that, I pretty much have things the way I want them. That's exciting. So now I am ready for Spring so I can do what I want in the front and back yard! The pictures below are the latest. I will post master bedroom and green room pictures soon. But right now the bed in the green room is covered in laundry and my bedroom is, well, not put together.

I found the two rooster plates at TJ Maxx with Emmylou, it was a great find! And I actually found the plate rack in my laundry room when I was cleaning up.

Mom moved just a couple of things around and it made such a difference. Like the plant on top of the cabinet. She also added the plant and small roosters in the window. It looked so naked after Christmas with nothing up there.
Mama is really good with "props." She kept using this word before my housewarming party. So one of her "props" was books. Yes, she had to bring over books to fill out my bookshelf. Is that sad? I had a collection of A Light in the Attic, some Chicken Soup for the Soul and a Cocktail diary. So I guess I answered my own question. :) Believe it or not, Charlie is not a prop. That is where he sits nightly!

A good friend gave me a gift card to Target for a housewarming gift and I got my window valence for both windows, the table cloth and the center piece. It's hard to tell but it is pears and cherries. It looks really good. I'm very pleased with it. I'm still working on mom to get a new couch for her house so she can hand down the ones she has now. :)
Next is the latest in both bedrooms and hopefully the small renovation of the bathroom. Sam got me a sink and faucet for Christmas and I am having that installed soon!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas on Manor Avenue

It's Christmas time on Manor Avenue. The lights from my neighbors across the street inspired me. I put lights up in my front yard. Between the two of us, we light up the whole street! I was lucky to have my girlfriends here in Columbia come and enjoy all my decorations at out annual gift exchange. I even got some new ornaments for my tree!

I was able to get about half of moms Santa Clause collection and put them up around the house. I think she was happy to have them off her hands. It was just one of many of her collections!!

Luckily you can't see all the cords that are plugged in to make all this light! It does look pretty tacky in the day, but I guess all of them do, not just mine! :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Camelias!

My camelias are in full bloom! I was so looking forward to seeing them bloom. I sat on my porch for the longest time looking at all the buds. There were so many, and are still. It was so exciting waiting to see what color they were. They were not in bloom when I moved in so I didn't know what to expect. To the right of the house is the big hot pink camelia with the big yellow center. To the left of the house are small pale pink camelias. They are taking a little longer to bloom.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Updated House Pictures!

New House Pictures

My plan is to put different sizes of black picture frames on the big wall with maybe some Rosewood prints in them. Not sure yet!

This is my green room! I'm pretty much done in here except for hanging some prints on the computer desk side. I love this room!! The bed skirt is actually a cloth shower curtain that I cut down the middle! It fits perfect!!

I just put this valence up and the curtains to hide the washer/dryer. I'm still getting used to it. It blocks a lot of sun from that door. This is the back door in the kitchen. I'm starting to like it more and more!

This is the view as soon as you walk in the door. Leaves on the floor and all! :) I love these Moulin Rouge prints and they look so good in this space! I'm happy with this space!! I built that table to, and by built I mean put together from the box. :)

This is my "sitting area." I love this space too! These chairs and ottoman are from Fernandina, they are super comfortable! I have to blank walls and I'm still not sure what I am doing with them.
This is obviously my bathroom. Catherine made me a sink skirt and it fits perfect!! I've tried really hard to maximize space here. You can't see in the picture, but there is not a curtain on the window. It's not too bad because of the position of surronding neighbors, they can't see in, so thats good! :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Pack of Dogs

The dogs on either side of me were particularly loud this morning. I didn't think too much of it and got up at my normal time. I walked out to say good morning to Charlie and feed him and saw there were two other dogs in the backyard. They were our dogs from next door. A dog a little smaller than Charlie and another black dog that was about the same size. They have always played by the fence with each other and tried to dig a little too. I put a stop to that immediately. ALL morning long I was trying to figure out how these two dogs got over here? I got up at 3:30am to correct Charlie and they were not back there, so it was sometime after that. The problem is I walked the line of the fence and couldn't see any place where a small and rather large dog shimmied their way to our side. They couldn't jump the fence considering there was a good 3 feet more fence added to the top prior to me living there. It has bothered me all day, I just can't figure it out.

The funny thing is imagining what CT was thinking when I noticed the other dogs. "Aww man, I wasn't suppose to have anyone over." "Yall be quiet, my mom doesn't know you're here." "You're not allowed to poop there." "You better get out of the garden, we aren't allowed to go in the garden." Which by the way, the big black dog made a huge poop in the middle of the yard. I am luck enough that CT goes in the ivy. He also was in and out of the garden, you should have seen CT looking at him on the other side of the foot and a half "fence" around it. He was so confused.

I sent the home and I'm hoping to figure out this mystery and not have them in my yard when I get home!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Peaceful Easy Feeling

It's was 6:45pm and rain was coming, you could smell it. I was sitting on my front porch, on the steps, not in the chair that I usually sit in. I was just back from another weekend away. Away from Charlie, away from the house. It was so quiet, it's always quiet on this street. There was still some sunlight left that was coming through the dogwood tree on the right side of the yard. The glare is harsh when I'm in my chair, it's quite a different view on the steps. It's soft light, not light that you get warmth from. It's a tired light, one that has been out all day working hard and is ready to retire for the evening. I glance at the dogwood, full with green leaves that haven't turned or begun to fall to the ground. Does it know that spring is nearly over? How much will it change in the next month, I look forward to seeing those changes.
The sun is all but gone and the clouds slowly move together. It feels thick outside, not humid so much as the feeling you get when you know that rain is near. A drop hits one of the leaves on my camellias, it sounded thick, I turn quickly as if turning fast enough will let me see the rain fall. "Big 'ol fat rain," I think to myself. It amazes me how your thoughts change when milestones occur in your life. I look forward to the rain knowing that it will water my grass and plants today, not me.
The rain comes faster, I have to move from my step that I have found so nice and peaceful. It's the kind of rain you want to play in. No thunder, no lightening, just rain. It's night time now, I cannot focus on the leaves on the trees, or the pine straw on the ground. Standing on my front porch I blink over and over, but the night has come and all is dark. I have a peaceful, easy feeling.
Back in my chair, my outlook changes. My thoughts are faster, more scattered. Ideas race through my head as if it's there one chance to be seen. I notice the change and try to get back to my calm easy feeling. Breath in, and out, in, and out. Work, files, bricks, how many?, where?, Charlie, grass, rain, wind, I am flooded. I look to my step to ask how do you do it? It's wet and little puddles have begun to form on top of it. I may have sat there all night if I wasn't forced to move by the lingering plops of rain. Plop. Splish-splash. Ping. Bring on the rain! My peaceful, easy feeling will come another day.