3.26.2009

Loving Bobbie

Delaney's greatest love, after her Daddy, is Bobbie.


Bobbie dines at the table, heads off to school, hangs out at the swing, and occasionally even goes to the beach.

Bobbie goes with her everywhere, offering an unconditional, traditional sort of love. When out of her sight, Delaney will yell "Bob-BIE!!!" as if it will come running like Noma the dog.

Hayden has a matching Bobbie in blue, but generally requires it only at night. And sometimes first thing in the morning. Occasionally around lunchtime. Sometimes while reading or coloring.
To our surprise, Hayden has taken to calling the blanket "Wah Wah." He used to be able to pronounce Blankie, and Bobbie, but has reverted to Wah Wah. This coincides with the arrival of the twins' first bikes, purchased at Christmastime in Los Angeles and recently shipped to the island by Bopa and Meme.


Hayden discovered a way to keep Wah Wah close while hitting the road. He stuffed it into his bike's seat.

"Wah Wah!" "Beep beep!" he shouts as he pedals down the deck.


Keeping The Bobbies clean is one of the greatest challenges of motherhood. I confess we are dirtier than we ought to be, most of the time. Thank goodness for the speed cycles on the washing machine and dryer. Of course, Hayden sometimes takes matters into his own hands by throwing Pink or Blue Bobbie into the pool.

The Bobbies were baby gifts from Dianne, who knew me when I was the twins' age and looked just like Delaney.
Dianne embroidered each blanket with Delaney and Hayden's name and birthdate. They are beautiful. I only wish I could be sure that they will survive the next few years intact.


I've decided that The Bobbies are good reminders: you don't need lots of close friends, but those you have, you must treasure well.



3.22.2009

Mike talks about... healthcare

I understand that cutting healthcare costs is a hot topic in the U.S. The Obama administration might want to pick up a few ideas from Roatan.


On the good news front, a doctor visit runs about $2.50 at Miss Peggy's drop-in clinic. And you get free drugs! Unfortunately, it takes two to six hours to actually see the doctor. Everyone brings their whole family and gets dresssed up, like for church. It's an outing. Enterprising women sell sodas and snacks on the front porch. Children (including Delaney and Hayden) are entertained on one of the island's few swing sets. Fox News would call it socialism.




For impatient gringos and parents of twins, the clinic offers a Rapid Care option. For about the price of your deductible back home ($25) you can go in the back door, skip the line and see a doctor within 20-30 minutes. And, you still get free drugs. The problem with this time-saver is that it can take up to an hour after you've been rapidly cared for before the busy volunteer pharmacy technician actually dispenses those drugs.




Speaking of medications, there are some interesting twists here. You don't really need a prescription and there is a generic for just about anything. Again, for the price of your deductible, you can get a three-month supply of your daily doses if you know what to ask for. Beware of visiting U.S. doctors, though. They tend to presecribe medications that are not available.... anywhere on the island. Perhaps this means something.


On Roatan, doctors often prefer to order up shots over pills. The serious reason for this is that illiteracy is so rampant on the island that doctors aren't confident that their directions will be followed. But the comical consequence of this is that you end up with your pants down inside a corner Farmacia.

Instead of at the doctor's office, you are sent to one of the island's many pharmacies to get your shots. This is not your local CVS. In my first experience with this, I was told to drop my drawers right there at the counter. At least that's what I think the woman said in Spanish. At least that's what I hope she said.


Healthcare on Roatan is an adventure and generally an inefficient all-day proposition. Perhaps somewhere in this is a model for reducing healthcare costs in the United States.

3.13.2009

Clinica Esperanza

This week marks the second anniversary of the dedication of Nurse Peggy's clinic in Sandy Bay.


Don't be confused, though. Clinica Esperanza actually began five years ago in Peggy's kitchen.


A nurse from Ohio, Peggy had moved to Roatan to retire. Word of her presence spread up and down the beach, and soon islanders appeared on her doorstep seeking medical treatment. Then friends back home were sending her supplies and medicines. Before she knew it, she was busy all day long.


She outgrew the kitchen and moved the clinic to a downstairs apartment. Still not enough space, she relocated the two treatment rooms and pharmacy to the Son Rise mission. She found an amazing partner in Honduran-born Dr. Raymond Cherington, an island boy with a passion for helping people. Another amazing partner materialized: Arizona emergency medicine specialist Dr. Patrick Connell. Patrick, who first visited with a group of volunteer physicians, now devotes six months of every year to Clinica Esperanza.



In 2007, a vision for a first class, permanent facility offering the finest medical care available on Roatan island was realized. The 4,500 square foot clinic was incorporated and the doors of its first-floor ambulatory care center were opened.



Two years since the building's dedication, the clinic has gone from seeing 20 patients a day to 70 a day. 10,000 patients a year. They keep the fee for care impossibly low: 50 lempiras per visit. That's about $2.50. Including the medicines they send home with you.


Clinica Esperanza has been a key part of our lives for a while. Before we moved here, we often brought supplies down in our luggage. We collected sneakers from our friends to outfit Dr. Raymond's youth basketball team. And our friends continue to send supplies. A box organized by Phil came at Christmas, and just last month a box arrived from the Greater Hartford Arts Council with vitamins and cough syrup, organized by Judy. My former assistant Desiree is out there now spreading the word, inviting people to "join the cause" on Facebook. She's recruited more people than I have! Our family members have also chosen to make financial contributions to the clinic. I'm so honored by the generosity of spirit of all these people.


When Delaney and Hayden got sick for the first time on the island, we went straight to Clinica Esperanza. We were humbled to wait among the dozens of other families in line for help. Families that haven't always had access to preventative care. Families that haven't taken the availability of healthcare for granted all their lives like we have.


We always learn something by waiting our turn at Clinica Esperanza. Last month my parents helped me on several visits there with one sick twin or another. Here are Delaney and Hayden, with my mom Carol, making friends with another little waiting patient.


We've made the clinic our central island philanthropy, too. Mike has volunteered as a strategic planner, and I have become secretary of the Board.



We take inspiration from this team that refuses to be daunted by a third-world island's challenges. Dr. Patrick just related this story to "Peggy's Volunteers" on Facebook. I guess this is why and how they do it. One unique person at a time:
"The house call is alive and well in Roatan for those physically unable to visit the clinic. Pauline Sampson, RN, a volunteer from Ireland, was a frequent visitor to the home of Ms. Emily Connor Mann doing dressing changes on Ms Emily’s chronic leg ulcer. Ms. Emily was a West End institution watching the world from her porch. But sadly Ms. Emily passed away on March 1st after a brief illness at age 82.


Pauline had promised Ms. Emily that she would get the ulcer healed by Christmas. But Christmas came and Ms. Emily reminded Pauline of her promise. To which Pauline responded “I never said which Christmas.”


One Islander commented at Ms. Emily’s wake: “If Ms. Emily don’t get into heaven, there ain’t no use to any of us trying.”




To join the cause, go to


Tax deductible donations to Clinica Esperanza can also be sent by mail to:
Bay Islands Community Healthcare Association
1370 Old Wilmington Pike
West Chester, PA 19382-8211



























3.07.2009

All Wet

Delaney likes being dry.

She runs around the house looking for her bay-doot (bathing suit) and pulls off all her clothes to wriggle into it. She jumps into the pool. She giggles with delight and says, "Wet." And then she pulls off her bay-doot and throws it over the side.

Same for spilling a little milk or getting caught in the rain. "All Wet," she says. And pulls off all her clothes.

While my parents were here visiting last month, we went to Foster's on West Bay Beach for lunch. In the usual chaos of being with twins in a restaurant, I didn't pay much attention to Delaney emptying the beach bag. After all, it was keeping her busy.

Lunch was served and she promptly tried drinking from my glass and spilled ice down her front. "Wet," she announced unnecessarily. I started to say it will dry, heck we're at the beach. But she had already pulled her shirt off.


Then, to our amazement she ran to the other side of the restaurant, to an empty table we hadn't noticed before.
On one of its chairs she had apparently stockpiled all the extra clothing we had brought in the beach bag.
She sorted through her options and picked out a new (dry) shirt.
Her traveling closet. A girl who thinks ahead. A girl with a plan.

Sometimes I'm scared to think about just what she has in store for us.

Here she is, sans bay-doot, working on my resume. Make it good, Delaney, make it good.


3.04.2009

Footwear in Paradise

Like the Cheeseburger, footwear in paradise is best when kept simple.

Generally, you find yourself walking on something other than concrete. To get from your car to a restaurant, for example, you're liable to traverse sand, mud, gravel and sea grass. Often it's dark and wet. You don't want your shoes to be too nice, or made of anything other than plastic that you can rinse off. Crocs fit that bill pretty well.

Here is Delaney, searching for her Crocs at school among those of her classmates (hers are the smallest pink ones on the right). She likes to try on everyone else's shoes, kind of like shopping, only without the commitment.





Hayden likes to wear one Croc at a time, hobbling along with his other foot bare. We're not sure why. Or he uses his shoes in one of his many science experiments. Here, they have been set out to sail the calm waters of the infinity edge pool.


















I underappreciated Crocs for a long time. I think my reluctance to embrace them started when Mike insisted on buying them in bright yellow. Fortunately, that particular pair has worn out and he's moved on to a more muted green. My own red ones only come out when it rains.





For me, island footwear consists of J. Crew wedge flip flops. I have 15 pairs. Heck, a girl still wants to accessorize. Coordinating my flip flops to my shorts is about the most indulgent part of my morning.


If you want proof of how inappropriate anything other than Crocs or flip flops are, check out Delaney on Valentine's Day. It was a big deal at school, so she wore a "Des" and picked out her holiday black-patent Mary Janes.

Here she is running through the school yard, trying to keep her Des and her Doose from tripping her up.
I sympathize.
It's hard to be a girly girl on an island.
But it's awfully easy to be a kid.