Monday, February 28, 2011

Mommy Time

This is me at the gym.  On Mondays I drive the carpool at 640 and tutor at the school at 820.  For the last few weeks, rather than turning around and driving the long drive back home, I have been hitting the gym.  It is a really nice complex with an outdoor track through the coffee plantations sporting fantastic views of Mt. Meru.  The gym itself is very good and has a beautiful yoga room attached.  They also have a tv with the news, a large and clean pool, kiddie pool, warm showers, cold water, sauna, steam room, and a coffee shop next door.  It is too expensive for us to join but a day pass is quite reasonable if you make use of everything they have to offer... which I do.  And I am thoroughly enjoying the 'me' time as well.  A very good investment in family sanity :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Parrot Birthday

Well our car isn't fixed yet, in fact we haven't even heard from them yet.  Ah well.  Yesterday I finished loads in the kitchen... homemade applesauce, oatmeal bars, lemonade, chicken soup from homemade broth, 2 loaves of bread, and brownies. And today I finished loads in the garden.

We have wonderful friends though!!  We borrowed a car for the day and were able to get groceries and catch up on other errands.  We were also able to make it to a birthday party in the afternoon.

 Another stunning cake from the designer of the airport cake.  

 It was a 1st birthday so the older siblings found ways of getting into trouble to entertain themselves.  Here everyone is getting a pedi.  Kaia chose to wear the dress I designed and knit for her 1st birthday.  I can't believe it still fits and I was thrilled she chose it.

 Even I couldn't resist.  Fab color!

 Theo was in HEAVEN... they had 100 of these balls!!!  When he first saw them he was so excited he could barely breathe!

He finally retired to the sandbox where he eventually lied down for a quick cat nap.

Friday, February 25, 2011

First Haircut

We called a second mechanic and he picked up the car today.  They are open tomorrow so our new best case scenario is that she will be up and purring by tomorrow evening.  Dare to dream!!

 Kaia's locks have been growing very long and curly and beautiful and snarly and painful to brush.  For months now I have been offering (begging) to take off a few centimeters to make the brushing less painful but Kaia has adamantly refused.  Today for some reason she keenly said ok.

Once on the porch she didn't refuse or scream but she did wiggle a lot.

Afterwords she was very excited and proud.  And this evening, in the tub, hair brushing was a dream!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sunflower Hats

The mechanic made it to the house today and he agrees with our assessment.  It is the gear box.  But he cannot even tow us to the shop until Monday.  If we are so lucky that he can fix the box then she may be ready to come home as early as Tuesday night.  If we have to buy a new one then the search for a gear box for a 1990 Nissan Mistral begins.  That could take a LONG time.  

Better make the garden even more beautiful since we are going to be spending a lot of time in it.  Poor Moses is going to get really sick of us really fast!  Today I spent all my free time in the garden.  My first ingenious improvement was to our sunflowers.  The birds are eating the seeds and I am ready to fight back!  So all the sunflowers got mosquito net hats.  Take that you greedy birds!

Check in tomorrow for even more innovative gardening solutions. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Glen Tow

 So do you want to hear the short story or the long story?
Short Story... 
Our car is SO dead!!!

Long Story... 
We brought the car to the shop on Monday to fix a few small problems...   
  • Our driver side window doesn't always roll up.  Now it doesn't ever roll down!!
  • An air hose had a hole in it.  They patched that up just fine.
  • No problem with the rear view mirror but they must have bumped it pretty hard because they left superglue in the car, the mirror is in a different spot on our windshield, and it fell off when we were driving home from school today.  We super glued it back again and hoped for the best.
  • Pick up has been slow.  They figured it was the gear box and recommended another mechanic who specializes in automatic cars.  We are in the process of getting his phone number and making an appointment.  They said to be careful but that it should be ok to drive for a week or two.  
Are you surprised they were wrong?  We're not.  On the way home from school it just fell out of drive into neutral.  Carl got it working again for a few km but at a speed bump cross walk we stopped for pedestrians and it refused to go any further.  We were in the middle of downtown during rush hour.  Good Times!!  Thankfully Carl was driving because I would never have been able to be as calm.  Double thankfully Glen, a man that owns a computer store in town and whom Carl knows well, stopped to help and towed us home. 

So there we were.  Getting towed through downtown because our gear box gave out.  Hoping like heck that the rear view mirror wouldn't fall down again.  And unable to signal oncoming traffic on the drivers side because Carl couldn't roll his window down.  Felt like a Seinfeld episode.   And we are very thankful that we made it home safely. 
 Jolly times at the homestead though.

Theo is thoroughly enjoying the world as a walker.  3 is his personal best and he couldn't be more pleased.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Furry Caterpillars

If you want to see a kindergarten teacher jump into action just tell her that you saw a furry caterpillar in the play yard.  A deceptively innocent looking creature that should be avoided at all costs.  If the fur gets on you it itches like mad!  As soon as you scratch it spreads to anything else you touch.  Seeing one is pretty rare.
 Today on our tree we found a patch of at least 30 of them!!  Even Moses had never seen anything like it and has no idea why they were huddled together. 

 Each one is about two inches long.  I tried to get a close up but because of all the long soft fur the camera had a terrible time focusing.  Suffice it to say it was disgusting and I would never have gone anywhere near them if I didn't keep a blog!!  Moses shook them all off into a tall bucket and then buried them in sand. Hopefully this won't happen again.

And Theo is full on walking now.  But some things are still more fun if you do them together.

Monday, February 21, 2011

God be on You

 The Story of the Fire Sticker
One fine day the carpool arrives in a tizzy.  They had been pulled over by the Fire Brigade.  With 3 toddlers and 1 baby in the car this is no fun!  The Fire Brigade are the newest addition to Tanzanian roadside harassment.  You are now required to have a fire sticker but a consensus on how much they cost or how long they are valid is a long way off.  I have NO PROBLEM complying with safety standards and in fact I most certainly would prefer that my car is as safe as possible in case of fire.  BUT there isn't anywhere to go to get a fire sticker.  You have to wait until you are pulled over and then bargain for a good price and hope they don't try to play you by giving you a sticker that will soon be out of date.  

My fateful day was last Friday.  I feel fortunate to have been pulled over by a very nice gentleman.  He gave me the best price I have heard quoted.  He also sold me the newest fire extinguisher for what I feel was also a very fair price.  And he gave me a sticker with no dates at all, hopefully that means it is valid for a lifetime.  He also spoke quietly as to not wake Theo, a mother's dream.    His parting words were  'God be on you'.

And when I went out to take a picture of the fire sticker Kaia reeaaalllllllyyyyyy wanted me to take a picture of her proudly swinging herself on the swing to show Grandma.  It's great to be 3!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Baking Bread

 I am slowly getting on my oven's good side.  Ever since that horrible week of losing power every single day we have been trying to plan ahead in the kitchen.  So I spent Saturday slaving away from dawn till exhaustawn.  

Baking bread has been especially difficult, the top would burn and the inside would still be doughy.  But yesterday the 'cook from below' function magically started working for the first time since we moved in.  It doesn't have a temperature control but I decided to be a risk taker and see what would happen.  It turned out almost perfectly.  Just a little crumbly on the top, any suggestions?  Nevertheless it tastes SO good with the Vegemite Uncle Dave brought us from Australia!! 

The guavas from our tree are small and full of seeds.  Carl crunches them and I think it is terrible for his teeth.  Kaia is intrigued and I cringe whenever she crunches them.  Yesterday I couldn't help myself and I say, 'Those seeds are too hard to chew, your teeth might just fall right out'.  Kaia looks at me, her eyes brighten, and a huge smile creeps across her face.  'Really!!' she says, 'Then I can put it under the pillow and the Tooth Fairy will bring me a gift!!!'

I lost that argument!!  Time to put a guilt trip on Carl and get him to deal with it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lessons Learned

 I can't believe it has been so long since our last post.  On Wednesday Carl had a holiday for Mohamed's Birthday.  Our recent computer problems prompted me to use the day to consolidate and organize our family photos to ensure we would ~never~ever~ever~ lose them.  But you know how contagious organizing can be.  3 days later the photos are impeccably organized and safely backed up in 2 places, our 5 hard drives are also glistening with orderliness and Carl's movie collection is mid-trim.  Meanwhile, while files are transferring, we have still found time to run amuck.

 Theo and I found this beetle (at least we think it is a beetle) on the way to pick up Kaia from school.  It was so big that I didn't SEE it coming... I HEARD it crawling through the grass!!!  Ewwww!!!

And what a refreshing picture of Kaia, it really captures the excitement and joy that a 3 year old wears so beautifully every day.  What is she so excited about?

 Monkeys at the Blue Heron!  A troupe lives in the area and comes through occasionally.  We all had so much fun watching them play.  Here her friend Pray is turning her head to see the one that he is looking at.  He is a year older than her and always takes very good care of her!

Theo and his baby friend also enjoy watching the monkeys, but for them it is all a little less extraordinary.  I am so happy that we are able to raise him in an environment that he can learn Swahili fluently and think of monkeys the same way I think of squirrels.

So after a long week of living we have all learned a few things...
Theo learned that even though monkeys are very exciting... if he doesn't take his afternoon nap, making it through dinner can be a challenge.

 Kaia learned that she can suck noodles up through her straw.

I learned that if I give Kaia a bag of granola in the car it may end up as a paste all over Theo.  Interesting.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day

 Since Democracy is all the rage I thought I would put Theo's HAIRSTYLE to a vote... hair off to the left, to the right, in the middle, or standing straight up?
They are all so devilishly handsome I can't decide!!

Happy Valentines Daddy!  And to everyone else that we love!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Portrait Class

 There is an Art Museum here called the Cultural Heritage Center.  It is stunning but we have rarely been, only to attend a few events.  This weekend they hosted an art class for children.

It was really aimed at a slightly older age group and focused on portrait sketching.  The painting on the left was painted by a local self-taught Masai man of a Masai warrior in his village.  The teacher talked about how the head was shaped like an egg and then where to place the eyes, nose, mouth, etc.  I drew the egg and mid-lines for Kaia but she placed the rest. Do you see the resemblance?

Then we headed over to Braeburn School for their FUN DAY.  Good food, lots of games.  It was great.  Kaia made a matching bracelet and necklace.  She also won a gift bag in a 'pull the string' game.  Actually the lady gave it to her after she lost 3 times in a row and looked like her heart had been broken.  God Bless kind people.

This week's power outages...
Monday 8-18  Tuesday 8-18   Wednesday 8-18   Thursday 18-?  Friday 8-18 
Saturday 18-?  Sunday 730-18
Brutal.  On Sunday it was out before we even woke up, and yes we are thrilled to have slept in past 730!  But no coffee... no way!  It was time to splurge at the local shishi cafe.  Totally worth every shilling.

Kids loved it too because we ordered them sausage.  
Gotta say that Theo is starting to look like a pretty big boy. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Beautiful Egypt

 Congratulations!  What a wonderful day! 

 We have our own reasons to celebrate.  Guess what is back in season!

 But I began to get afraid when I saw under his chin.  Even more so upon taking off the bib.  And now I am just wondering how bad it is that he still has purple palms even after a long hot bath.  

 This is Kaia at 3 months sporting her first yellow bathing suit in swim class.

This is Kaia at 3 years sporting the SAME swimming suit and a green tail.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Coup d'éta?

Power is out, the norm these days.  Our new phone internet connection is turning out to be a lifesaver.  It isn't a fast enough connection to download video though and we are spending the night navigating around live feeds but still trying desperately to follow the excitement in Egypt.  Ironic that Mubarak calls and 8pm curfew but waits till after that to address the people.  I can stay up a little late to witness a highlight in history!

Closer to home... the fancy grocery store has Leapster in stock!  Kaia's first exposure to video games.  I had no idea she knew so many numbers and letters!   We will never have to entertain her in the grocery store again, but getting her back home is proving to be a problem.

And at home... Theo is totally and ridiculously unsuccessfully feeding himself with a spoon :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Barry and Evelyn

 Kaia and Theo have been getting along so well lately.  He is now going to bed with her at night regularly.  As we leave he cries a little bit but she somehow calms him quickly and they quietly fall asleep.  This morning when Theo woke up Kaia was the first to go and greet him.  When I came back to see them they were lounging together on the bed just chilling out and 'chatting'.  My babies are growing up!

HI Roxanne and Lindy!!!
Funny the people that end up in your lives.  Last summer we were stranded for 4 weeks in Ottawa in a trashy house with no car, a suitcase of our belongings, and a big ol' pregnant belly.  Roxanne came to our rescue and took such good care of us.  Only a year and a half later we have had the pleasure of hosting Roxanne and her daughter Lindy.  They must have had a great time because they sent their friends Barry and Evelyn for dinner. It was a really nice night and it only took about 10 minutes for both our kids to love them.  Carl told them they remind him of his own parents and they do... must be the Canadian grandparent syndrome :)

Barry originally came 2 years ago with his son and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.  No small feat for a man in his 60's!  He was moved by the country and the people and went home to raise funds and awareness.  With the money he raised he is building schools and a well for a primary school in Mwanza.  He and Evelyn came to see the finished projects and to meet the children that would be using them.  Sort of a grandpa Mortenson, he is truly inspirational.  He is now writing a book about his amazing experience so let me know if it is something you are interesting in reading.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Theo's Firsts

 Theo's First Swahili word:  nyanya (tomato)
Many swahili words are repetitive like this and are easy and fun for kids to say.  Theo was interested in the growing tomatoes on the vine so Moses let him try.  Theo kept saying nya-nya-nya-nya-nya-nya-nya-nya.  How can that be an accident?

Theo's first steps: 5 in a row to kick this ball
We have been waiting and waiting and waiting for Theo to take his first steps.  He has taken a few here and there to greet me or to get a ball or some food.  Usually accidental, he doesn't even notice he had done something special.  If you hold his hand though he will kick a ball all the way across the yard.  Go figure.  He is now up to consistently taking about 3-5 steps to come to your lap and we are just going to label them as first steps.  So yea!  Theo is walking!  This photo was taken on Saturday when he forgot he didn't walk yet and was kicking the ball around the yard.

Walking and talking may be old hat to her but Kaia also keeps us entertained each day.
I am cooking in the kitchen and hear a funny noise come from the porch.  
I ask: 'Kaia what was that'
Kaia says:  'Theo blessyoued'