Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Nice relaxing family day at home today.  Homemade pizza for Christmas Eve dinner thanks to Carl.  Only one more sleep till Christmas!!!  We will finish off the night with Mojitos, movie, cookies, and one present.

 Kaia composed this photo.  She told me where to stand to take the shot and that it should be taken with no flash.  Pretty artistic.  And pretty amazing that she got Theo to sit still for her.

We tried really hard to keep the Gingerbread house tradition alive even though we did it late afternoon and before dinner time, prime meltdown time.  Then we said Kaia could only look at the sweets and not eat them.  It wasn't exactly ideal but it did provide a great learning experience for a more successful 2011 house.

Kaia wrote a note to Santa Claus today:

Dear Santa, 

My name is Kaia.  I have been so so so so good.  I have been caring to Theo, when he cries I pick him up and make him feel better.  I share my toys with my brother and my friends, sometimes I even give them away.  I can be very helpful, I take Sassy outside when he comes in, I feel Laika almost every day, and I clean my room and toys.  I want a lollipop and a soft lizard please.  Sorry to bother you, hope you have nice travels tonight and have a Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Candlelight Service

So it may seem like we are slacking on the blog because we are spending all our time with Dave.  But in reality the power has been atrocious.  We are hoping they are storing it all up for the holidays.  We have been staying busy with Dave though.  Mostly shopping and Christmas preparations.  We are enjoying every minute of it, it is so nice to have him here.

 This is us making Christmas cookies with Emily.  Bless her heart.  She had everything all set up for us, including homemade cookie cutters!!  She had hand drawn Christmas coloring pages for Kaia to color during the down time.  AND she was preparing a 'Christmas room' that had a tree and the prettiest diorama with snow and glitter pine trees.  It was such a nice afternoon!!!  We decided she is so jolly that she might just be Santa in disguise.
 This afternoon, after a lovely early Christmas lunch with Australian Christmas pudding for dessert, Dave crashed in the hammock.  Kaia hovered around that hammock forever until he F I N A L L Y woke up.  I think Uncle Dave is quickly becoming the coolest dude.

 Yesterday morning, while Carl kindly made a lovely breakfast, Kaia, Dave, and I made our Christmas cards.  Green tree with colored (but mostly yellow) ornaments, GOLD Christmas tree stamps and blue tinsel.  She only made about 4 of them herself but she is infinitely proud!

 Like I said, Dave is the coolest.  His lap is in high demand.  Thankfully they both fit.

 Us in the car on the way to Church.  Theo was really happy that Kaia wanted to hold his hand.

The service was beautiful.  A candlelight service with real candles.  Theo only made it a few minutes but Kaia enjoyed the entire night.  She loved holding the candle until the wax dripped on her.  Then she preferred watching me hold the candle.  The last song was Silent Night and everyone sung in their native language.  One of the most beautiful songs I have ever sung in church.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Theo's Birthday

Today Theo is one.  Like all other mothers I can't he is one already.  Where has the year gone?  The first 4 pregnant months here seemed to last forever as we tried to decide where to give birth, weighing all the options, contemplating every detail.  The past 12 have flown by, he is such a joy.  We love you Theo.  I tried to only pick a few pics from the day but really had a hard time whittling it down.

Kaia helped fill up the pool for the party.  She had been standing on the left of the pool for a bit and then headed to the right side and told Uncle Dave that she was going to 'move over to fill up the other side of the pool'. 

 I am a very proud mum.  Isn't he just gorgeous!  I think he looks just like me, why does everyone keep saying he looks like Carl?

 Today we discovered he likes sausage.  A LOT!

 The girls were so helpful when it came time to open the presents.  And the boys helped Theo play with his gifts once they were opened.  He got a set of the loudest squeaky cars ever!  I think my friends are trying to get back at me for something.  It may be hard to tell but Kaia has already changed clothes.

 And then there was the cake.  Fancy this... Uncle Dave is a certified baker AND a certified bartender.  Both the mojitos and the cake were amazing!!  And the power went out just as he was going to start the frosting so he is a true SuperHeroUncle.  Welcome home Dave, please don't ever leave!!  Theo liked the sparklers on the top best.

 The cake was modelled after Theo's favorite ball.  Too bad we couldn't manage to get a shot of the cake without Theo's hand prints.  Guess the likeness was so good that Theo thought it was the real thing!

 This is the crew.  They all arrived on the same plane last year and have been friends ever since.  Only last year Simone was Kaia's age, Fionn was big Theo's age, the big Theo was baby Theo's age, and baby Theo was still in my belly.  It has taken all this time to get a good shot of all of them... this time I gave them all cake, sat them down and instructed them to eat.  I got like 5 shots!  I am brilliant!  And... is that Kaia in another outfit?

 This is what Theo looks like when he crawls towards me.   Poor guy sported that diaper all day long. 

 When things were quiet again we gave Theo our gift.  This is rumored to the most durable kids bike for sale in these parts so we plan on putting it to the test.  Theo knows he is supposed to be excited but doesn't know exactly what to do.

 He doesn't get it at all yet but we had a ball showing him how it worked.  And... Hello!  Kaia has changed again!! 
So here he is signing off.  The very exhausted Birthday Boy.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Grayson's Confirmation

Today we were privileged to be invited to the Confirmation of the nephew of Alice our house worker.  She invited us to one last year as well and it was an incredible experience.  I was very pregnant last year and this one was much more enjoyable for me.  Dave is very fortunate to have been able to have such a special experience while here.  The celebrations have quite a few similarities to what we would normally see at a wedding.

 The Confirmation begins at Church in the morning.  The service is very long as many children are confirmed at the same time.  We met up with the family after the service.  Their first stop is one of the local roundabouts.  The family congregates and takes numerous photos.  Everyone is all dressed up and looking beautiful.  On the weekends the roundabouts are always filled with people taking photos for weddings and confirmations.  We were invited to be in the family photo at the roundabout but Kaia was sleeping in the backseat so we politely declined ;)

 Then they drive to the restaurant.  The first car is full of family and the cinematographer who has caught every moment of the day on film.  The second car holds Grayson and is decorated with ribbons and bows and honks all the way to the restaraunt.  We were the third car in the procession!!

 The restaurant is set up slightly elaborately.  Grayson sits on the thrown with his best friend.

 We get prime seats at the head table with the family.  I felt a little uncomfortable but I think Alice wanted to keep us close.
 The celebrations begin with the ladies dancing.  Each of the women family members took turns carrying Grayson.  Alice has 5 sisters and 2 brothers.  Her mother is also still alive.  Alice is in the white dress here and her older sister is wearing the gray suit.  Grayson's mother is in white in the background.

 Then comes the champagne.  Many people take turns shaking it.  They Grayson walks around and everyone gives him their blessings by touching the bottle. 

 The entire event is MC'd by a young charismatic man.  Entirely in Swahili.  I don't have much idea of what is going on, poor Dave is completely lost.

His voice blared from these speakers between even louder songs.  Here Grayson's friend is opening the Champagne.
 Then everyone toasts and the boys drink Champagne together.  Then Grayson walks around and fills the glasses of the important people in his life.

 Everyone comes to toast him.

 Then comes the cake.  There is a LOT of dancing... the ladies slowly 'dance in' the cake to the front table.  The girl holding the cake is Brightness, it was her Confirmation we attended last year.

 The boys cut the cake together.  The cut a pile of small pieces.  The most important people in his life come up one by one and he touches them on the shoulder, they touch him on the shoulder, he feeds them a piece, they hug or kiss.  It is a wonderful way to recognize the love he has in his life and his coming of age.  These were very special moments to witness.

 More dancing.  Theo was in the thick of it most of the night.

Then it is time for gifts.  First Grayson sits in the center and people 'dance in' gifts to him.  We all danced in together too and gave him a small cash gift.  Then his parents take the seat and are presented with kanga, pieces of the local cloth.  Last year Brighness received the cloth as well rather than her parents.  Otherwise the male and female ceremonies were very similar.

Then lots of food, lots of soda, dancing, and some praying.  Alice's boyfriend was the chef and he is a VERY good cook.  We may have to host an event one day just so that he can cater it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Campfire Stirfry

Today we spent most of the day relaxing.  Long morning coffee, lazy breakfast, shopping list generating, lunch at Blue Heron's garden cafe, a little Christmas shopping, grocery shopping, and home just in time to make a very late dinner.  These 25 days with Dave are going to fly by!

 Dave unpacked this morning.  He was allowed 20 kilos but about 15 of them must have been stuff for us.  Here is everything he brought for us.  Kaia is trilled!!  And we finally have a new blender.  He even brought a wrapped Christmas present for us that was intended for 2008.  Hope we like it, he doesn't remember what it is.

 About 5 minutes into cutting up veggies for dinner the power went.  So we had the pleasure of cooking over an open fire on the back porch under an almost full moon.  The temperatures were perfect, a light breeze, very quiet without the hum of electricity.  When we have the time to relax and enjoy it, having no power is actually very nice.

So here it is.  Stir fry, rice, and stir fry sauce.  All done.  Food was yum and the men did a great job cleaning up in the dark.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Swim Gala

Carl's last day of work for the year!!  HOLIDAY!!!

 Uncle Dave showing Theo how to shake a shaker.  Like any truly great uncle, Dave strutted his stuff at Music Makers this morning.  Unfortunately the power was out so I didn't get a chance to see him dance with scarves after the singing.  That would have been video worthy.
Meanwhile, at school, Kaia was swimming in her Swim Gala.  They got to show off all their newly acquired swimming skills.  Kaia can (very proudly) now swim by herself with swim wings and a noodle.  This photo was from a 'race'.  Kaia came in first!!  But as you can see she had a bit of a head start :) 

 Our first meal of the holiday with Carl.  So nice to have him back all to ourselves. 

 Dave likes the hammock.

Blue Christmas tree tinsel makes way better hair than Christmas tree decoration.  Kaia is taking her dolls for a hike. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dave Arrives!!!

So this morning seemed to last forever!!  Dave's plane wasn't to arrive until 2pm.  I asked Kaia if she was more excited about Uncle Dave coming or Santa coming... she said Uncle Dave.  What a great niece!!

Found this butterfly in the yard this morning.  So big and so beautiful.

While we waited for Dave's plane we had a soda.  Kaia has never had an entire soda to herself before but made her way through most of a Fanta.  She had the tongue to prove it.

And FINALLY Uncle Dave is home with us.  Good flights except... in Bangkok they told him he may not be able to get into the country because 'his passport was not valid for 6 months after his departure date'.  They finally let him board the plane but he had to sign a waiver that they took no responsibility if he was not allowed to enter Tanzania.  Poor guy.  He stressed out for the rest of his journey until, without a second look, he was easily and quickly waived passed security.

But most importantly his is SKINNY!!   He has lost 25 kilos in the last 8 months!!  Incredible!!  I will post some before and after pics soon.

Blog entries may a bit shorter the next few weeks but we will try to keep posting cute shots of Dave bonding with the family.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Block Offerings

 Wonderful Theo morning again with Kaia gone at school.  He is really starting to understand and communicate.  Which makes him double the fun!

 Theo giving me a block.  He loves to give you things.

 Theo checking to see that I am happy to have gotten a block.

Theo offering yet another block.  The pile in the foreground is the pile that he has given to me, one by one.

And just as I was about to grind the sesame seeds for dinner the power went out.  Unfortunate timing.  So this is a photo of the ground sesame seeds and the rock that I used to grind them.  Kaia thought it was hilarious to watch me do this.  And honestly it was pretty tiring!!