Sunday, May 29, 2011

Showing Off

Amy and Pray spent the night.  Emily was also over yesterday evening sewing place mats for her mom.   By the time we come back in August Emily will be long gone to the US and Amy will (hopefully for her sake) be packing to leave.  We are enjoying our last days thoroughly... sewing, hide and seek, duck duck goose, mojitos, lots of dear memories.

Unfortunately today ISM was robbed.  All of the computers in the primary lab went missing.  Thousands of dollars worth of stolen equipment.  This is terrible news.  The school is already struggling financially and working very hard to make ends meet.  The school has 24 hour security and strict policies, it is unbelievable.  Hopefully the police will have good news for us tomorrow.

In the meantime I shamelessly flaunt my most favorite children in the whole wide world...

 If I remember right Kaia was explaining something to him and he was getting a tad bored.

 Kaia and Pray heading off to the grocery store holding hands.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

5 more sleeps

The terrible threatened power outages weren't so bad.  We have been having power during the day but not at night.  It has proven to be very unproductive because at about the moment Carl walks in from work, and I might actually get something done, the lights go out and I can't see a thing.  Very relaxing week though.  

Getting so homesick!!  Thinking of bare feet in green grass, big stores full of beautiful things, libraries, museums, traffic lights, power, warm water, smooth roads, dogs on leashes, Cafes, and loving friends and family. I think Kaia is a little apprehensive about the trip.  She has been very moody lately, resistant to change, and has made several comments about how she will miss her friends and pets.  I forget this is all she knows.

 Theo has been pretty tough and demanding again this week too.  Teeth coming in further maybe?  Maybe he also senses the upcoming trip.  One day he woke at 6am and literally whined, cried, and wanted to be held until 8am when I changed his diaper.  He collapsed to sleep naked on the changing table and relief encompassed me.  I covered him and brought my work into the kids room and he slept there for over an hour.

 I can't wait to share American culture with Kaia.  She has this new shirt that she calls her toothpaste smile shirt.  

Here Pray helps Theo put on his shoes.  Absolutely precious.  Pray is so wonderful with both my kids.  Amy has agreed to stay in our house while we are gone to care for our animals, staff, and bath tub.  What an angel she is.  But she doesn't like curry on popcorn.  Strange.

 Kaia had her first play date this week without the parents coming along.  Huge step in life.  This is a new girl in her class and Kaia talks about her all the time.  They are two peas in a pod and whenever I see them at school they are glued at the hip.  Of all the gibberish Kaia has shared about her the one thing she never mentioned is that the girl only speaks GERMAN!!  These two innocents also raided the cookie jar together... troublesome pair... this could get interesting.

 Exhausted.  And both asleep at the same time!!  PArTY!!!

 Here Carl tries to help with some light hand sewing.  He took the thread and threaded into a plastic shell bead from one of Kaia's necklaces he found on the floor.  Then asks how to get it into the needle.  What?  Progress is slow.  But look how proud he looks :)

Santa Claus is coming to town!!  Gifts are coming along.  I am starting to enjoy the holidays in May.  Pulled out the suitcases today and dusted them off.  Tossed a few things into them to feel productive. 

5 more sleeps!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Kili Bowl

How could I forget to mention the Global Kilimanjaro Bowl.

 Last Saturday Arusha hosted an American Football game.  Drake University Bulldogs vs. All stars from Mexico.  We didn't go since Theo is too young and we didn't think Kaia would care much.  Amy kept us posted play by play.  Drake took it 17-7.  Evidently 20,000 fans packed the stadium, very impressive in a country you would b hard pressed to find a football.  They also did great outreach work before the game.  Both teams arrived a few days early and worked with kids from local schools.  Our school neglected to participate!!!!  Finals week they said :(  Now I believe the teams are racing up Kili, but I am not following the progress. 

Also... I went to the doctor for a routine appointment and after checking in I had to go pay at a seperate counter.  They gave me my medical file to hold while I waited in line.  I have never held my own medical file before.  Since the birth was the most interesting thing I have done at the hospital I flipped to that page.  Summary...

Stage 1:  6 hours
Stage 2:  5 minutes
Stage 3:  3 minutes
Apgar: 9/10

I had no idea they were keeping track of any of this.  In my humble opinion it looks great in black and white!!  Go Theo!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

More Goat

Feels like forever since I posted.  Happy to report we are all healthy again.

First and foremost...  My precious mother had a cancer scare.  And while I share all the little details of our lives I have kept to myself what has preoccupied my mind and thoughts most for weeks now.  We are so happy that it was a false alarm and all the tests have come back negative.  Thanks to God.  We love you Mom!!

 That's right.  More friends leaving.  This time it is a woman who came just a month or so before us.  She has a daughter who was only 5 months at the time and is now already 2.  She is my crunchy friend, she loves to bake and make pretty things.  Very sad she is moving on.

 Power has been fine lately!!  We are 3 days into the dates they threatened the 15 hours cuts and nothing has changed.  Newest threat starts Monday... 4 days of no power 6-11pm.  No problem.  Here we are enjoying our power by chatting with Grandma.  I love how Theo is dangling off the table to get a good view.

 Preparing to travel.  Kids are going to have to get used to sleeping at different places.  Here Theo has fallen asleep on Melanie's lap.  She is our our easy going, life is always sunny, German friend.  Kaia fell asleep on the couch to the drone of adult conversation.  It was a great night and hopefully an indication of what our North American travels will be like.

 Our rear view mirror has fallen off again.  I refuse to drive until it is fixed by Carl is much more adaptive than I.  He just holds it up when he wants to see something.

 Melanie gave us an outfit for Theo that her 1 year old daughter had outgrown.  Before I even had a chance to try it on Theo, Kaia was already sporting it around the house.  Yesterday we went through all our hand-me-down clothes to see what fit her now.  For an hour she tried on cloths cheerfully without complaint.  What will we do with her when she is in high school!!!

Theo kept busy too.  He likes to take my fabrics and spread them out flat on the floor.  Then pick them up and drag them around the house.  Then spread them out, and drag, spread, drag.  Silly boy.

11 days till we fly like birds.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ganging up

In Finnish news... did you see that Finland beat SWEDEN to win the World Championships in hockey!!!  They are living the dream!!  Check out the photo of the 90,000 Fins who met the returning team... these days it is great to see large groups meeting for a good reason :) 

In Tanzanian news... Mafuta Sasa in Dar es Salaam is turning used cooking oil into biodeisel fuel.  Very progressive for these parts.  Despite being ridiculed by the general community and not being able to sell to fuel stations because governing agencies don't understand enough about his product, he perseveres.  We hope to be able to support him in the near future. 

In Arusha news... this is what a Load Shedding Time Table looks like.  It is looking like the dreaded cuts on May19-26 from 8am-11pm will be trimmed.  Instead day or evening cuts for 4 days in a row.  Totally do-able, In fact that is basically what we are doing now so we won't even notice a difference.

On the home front... Kaia's fever came back last night along with a headache and a very unusual 3 hour midday nap.  So we are nesting again today.  Uugh.  She woke up looking fine and the spots are mostly gone.  Hopefully this is the end of it.  Very sad to have missed a playgroup that was celebrating her friend's birthday today.  Also very sad that I am definitely fighting this too and am utterly exhausted.

 Today for the first time they ganged up on me.  I wanted to change Theo's diaper and Kaia showed him how to hide under the bed.  Clever.

 This is Kaia's 'telling on you' face.  Here she was explaining how Theo took Kuna.  

This is Theo's 'salad' face.  For some reason he has started asking for bites of my salad during lunch.  The salad usually has lots of raw onion, carrot, green pepper, and is covered in balsamic vinegar.  He makes this face for each and every bite but then keeps asking for more. 

**Video coming as soon as our power comes back on**
**ETA:  Seems we have a problem uploading videos again.  Sorry.**

And here is Theo crowing like a rooster.  Sometimes he really gets the sound right and often accompanies it with a great back arch.  But I couldn't get those on camera.  This one is cute enough though.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Material shopping, sewing, and cuddling sickies.  Theo fought off his fever and passed it on to Kaia.  She was sick Thursday but better by Friday so we sent her to school.  That night her fever spiked again so we committed to nesting for the next 24 hours.  It felt like forever for her!!  Daddy went out shopping AND out to an evening birthday party without her and she was devastated.  Afterward she remarked 'I made it 20 days stuck in the house!!'  Life is challenging.

 My tater tots.  Theo is still in a bit of a funk.  Those 4 teeth still coming in?  Maybe.  And Kaia sick.  Poor us.  So we watched a few videos to pass the time.  Finally Theo is sitting for a couple minutes in a row!!  

 Haven't been taking too many photos the last few days so here are some old ones that never made it to the blog, been saving some for an occasion like this... Photo crisis with no new shots for Grandma!!
Theo on the trampoline.

 Kaia posing.

 Carl and I with Kaia in Finland.  2 months old.

Carl and I with Theo in Tanzania.  3 months old.

18 more days till wheels up!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Had a bad driving experience today.  There are three roads through town.  The north road is longer but faster, the city road is shortest but always congested, and the short-cut with is very very bumpy but pretty free of traffic.  Ironically both the north road AND the shortcut are under construction right now.  Best way to school right now is straight through town.  Already contested, you can imagine how it is now that the other roads are under construction.

There are lots of robbery ploys here to get you to stop, pull over, or get out of your car.  Basically you don't stop for anything, no matter how terrible it looks.  If there is actually something really wrong then there is always a crowd of local people ready to help.  If not, then it is probably a ploy.  Single women are obvious targets.  One such ploy is for a biker to slam into your car... you will then stop to make sure he is alright.  Today it happened to me and it was terrible.  I knew for a fact I hadn't done anything, I wasn't even moving when he hit me, but it was so hard to continue driving as if nothing had happened.  Traffic was slow and he and his friends kept running along beside me trying to get me to get out of the car.  It took a few blocks for the traffic to lighten up and then everything was fine but I am really not looking forward to my next drive across town.  Can't wait for the short-cut to be fixed.

 I usually meet my tutoring student in the performance area and sometimes Kaia's class comes in at the same time for PE.  I love watching them.  Here she is walking along the balance beam.  I think she has a great style.  I never choose her clothes anymore, only her.  She is wearing a sundress with leggings under and a long sleeve shirt over.  Somehow it totally works.  Today she also snuck her dress up shoes into her schoolbag.  Sneaky girl :)

 Theo had a workout of his own today.  He loves the trampoline!!  About 5 hours after this photo was taken he had an underarm temp of 103F.  Poor guy.  He is doing better today.  Hoping for a healthy boy tomorrow.

 A friend of ours (actually many of our friends) have a trampoline.  When we pulled out of the driveway this is what we saw.  Lucky tortoise.  I didn't know they even had one, definitely wasn't keeping an eye out for him.  

 And speaking of inappropriate animals, what is wrong with this picture?  Carl is going to flip when he realizes I pulled out the camera before chasing him out? 

Double-And I am pretty sure there is a frog under my desk as I type.  I would check but the power is out and you all know the status of our flashlights.

 My darling Kaia.  She made this new dress for Kuna yesterday.  'Mommy I want to sew'.  Ahhh, she knows how to schmooze.  So the dress is cut out of one of her old socks.  She knotted the ribbon together over and over again to make the belt. 

 AND (with some help) she sewed on the first 5 of these hanging beads at the bottom!!  I am really really proud of her... for wanting to, for having the patience to sit down and work on it for so long, and for doing such a good job!!

And here is Kuna today.  Lounging at the beach.  
Ta-ta for now.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wapi Power?

Where's the power???

All I have to report today is the looming power outage schedule.  I guess 6 days a week of alternating 8am-6pm or 6pm-11pm outages weren't enough.  Since we use mainly  hydro power you would expect the power situation to be better during the rainy season.  But no, the power seems to still be politically driven solely by upcoming elections.

The newest announcement states that from May 19-May 26 we will have no power 8am-11pm.  You can read the pathetic excuses here.

You would think we could just invest in some beautiful candles and light them and enjoy the silence when the power is out.  That is the dream.  But the candles are cheap and drip all over the floors or the wicks are so bad that they just don't light at all.  Only 1 in 10 matches actually light.  And the neighbors just invested in a really loud generator.  But most critically I have a load of Christmas presents I am trying to sew and that is so much easier with a sewing machine.

Sigh.  I think I am just getting homesick.  The grass is always greener.  23 days!

And... I haven't mentioned Mother's Day yet :)  Carl and the kids had a beautiful bouquet of roses for me, a nice new package of herbal infusions, and (Kaia in particular insisted upon) a lollipop.   We enjoyed  mojitos in the garden and a nice cup of steaming coffee after a lazy afternoon brunch.  Lovely day.  I love my family!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Where's Guinea?

A quick uplifting story to share.  A friend of ours was feeling tired and sluggish back in August.  She was diagnosed in Arusha with Malaria and suspected it wasn't right.  She was diagnosed with Hepatitis in Nairobi and still felt it wasn't right.  She went home to Spain and was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.  When I asked my doctor friend about it she said it was a death sentence.  She is in her 40's and the diagnosis was devastating.  She has a fiery spirit and a very sexy doctor.  It has been a hard and exhausting battle but 10 months later she has actually BEAT it!!  For now anyway.  She has also been hitting the gym to keep her mind of everything and has lost 40 pounds.  She sent photos and I can't believe she is the same woman who left only 10 months ago.  And next year she is off again to Bermuda for another exotic teaching post.  I thought her journey was worth sharing.

 Back at the homestead Kaia has become quite the backseat driver lately.  Here I stopped with traffic for the red light, which she could of course not see from the back seat.  As I slow to a stop she says... 'Mommy, just pass them up'.  She is also big into replying... 'No'.  So when I explain I am stopped for a red light she says 'Nooooo'. For what feels like the 100th time today I reply 'YES!  I am sure!!'  I am sure the light is red, I am sure you ate breakfast, I am sure you don't have on any panties, I am sure it is raining, I am sure the chickens are on the porch, I am sure, I AM sure, I AM SURE!!!

Today I also broke down and cut some more of Theo's hair.  It was looking ridiculous all short in front and long over his ears and in back.  I still do not have the heart to chop of his beautiful curls in back but I did tackle the bulk that was growing over his ears.  Now he has what Carl calls the 'Canadian Mullet'.  

But this video is the best part of today's blog.  Remember when I told you about our game 'Where's Guinea'?  We learned it from Uncle Tom and keep playing in an effort to keep memories of our family back at home fresh and vibrant.   Theo plays now too.  Usually Kaia hides Guinea and Theo searches.  Today Daddy was home and had the honors.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kuna's Bday

Even though our houseworker is amazing there are days when it drives me crazy having a woman in my house all day long, lots of days actually.  So today I treated myself, and her, and gave her the day off.  It was paradise and I didn't leave the house the whole day in order to appreciate every minute of it.

 By 930 this morning Theo was so worn out he literally fell asleep in my arms while I was reading to him.  I put him down and he slept for 3 hours!!  He must be fighting something, or it was the complete silence that is so rare in our house.  But if I sent you an email this morning and gave you this blog link... this is the sleeping baby you have to thank.

So why does he have so many bruises on his face?  For some reason he thinks he can jump from the coffee table to the couch.  He can't.  Persistent chap though.

 You aren't going to believe this but Kuna turned 4 today (just 3 days after Kaia)!!  We all dressed up and attended the party.  I swear Theo asked for this outfit!!  Mostly.

 Things started off really jolly.

 Kaia was so absorbed in the festivities Theo started testing the ultimate boundaries.

 That didn't turn out so well.

 And some of the games had a dusting of revenge.

But overall we had a great time.  If you wish you had been here, you can!!  Would you believe that tomorrow is her 4th birthday again!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Meet Kuna

With the birthday festivities finished the next big-ticket event in our lives is going home!!  I am a compulsive list-er and have already started a packing list so we don't forget anything :)

 The decorations were already looking a bit sad after one night out in the damp cold so we brought them indoors to enjoy until we leave.  Kaia is thrilled and Theo is vying to pop those balloons.

 We have a friend with a 3 year old boy who loves to dress up in princess and ballerina dresses.  I think Theo may take after him a bit.  Roxanne (Hi Roxanne!) gave us this beautiful robe for Kaia because it wasn't being used in her house.  Unfortunately Kaia has 2 robes and won't wear either of them.  It is the strangest thing and I have no idea why.  So I am so happy that Theo gets giddy excited when we dress him up in it.  Now it is finally being enjoyed properly.

 He is also quite keen to read in his swing which is super cute.

 I am quite keen about taking photos of bugs with my children in the background.  I don't understand my own fascination.  But Praying Mantises are such old hat to the kids that Kaia couldn't even be persuaded to get up to see this one less that 5 feet away from her. 

Also on the wildlife front... the power was out a few nights ago.  Carl and I were sitting on the couch in the dark when all of a sudden a loud CROAK fills the room.  Then again a CROAK .  After a while a 3rd CROAK.  It sounded like it was only a few feet from the couch but our dim flashlight and nervous fingers couldn't find it.  Nothing since.  As long as he doesn't jump up on me in the shower I think I am ok about sharing residence with him.

Oooohhhh that's right, I forgot.  This is probably why Kaia wouldn't get up... she was playing with her new Barbie and dressing up her new cardboard dolls.  She got her first Barbie for her birthday from Leandra.  Rite of passage.  She has named her Kuna (?) and only puts her down to eat or go to the bathroom.  Kaia is full on into imaginative play and Barbie is the center of everything.  I love listening to her beautiful voice ring through the house creating new and hilarious adventures for Kuna.  You know, until Theo comes over and pulls her hair and it all turns to ear-piercing wails.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Kaia's Bday

 So here is the birthday girl.  Such a big girl now.  You know how kids wake up so quickly?  She was sound asleep this morning and the next minute she was standing up in bed.  She says 'You know mommy, I think I am still 3'.  An experimental test supported her hypothesis.  You see, Pray is 4 and he can reach the light.  So she tried to reach the light and couldn't.  Thus proving she was still 3.

 Last night we blew up the balloons for the party.  70 of them, 30 with sweeties in them.  Rather than putting them up or away we left them on the floor for her to find when she woke up.  Super cute... she walked down the hall this morning, opened up the living room door, saw all the balloons, quickly shut the door, and came running back to bed.  I think for a minute she thought there was a Santa for birthdays, she was so excited and had no idea what to think.  She was also definitely over the 'I am still 3' thing!

 We gave her a couple of books and this princess theater set.   It came with 5 cardboard princess with stands, a stage, a few little storybooks, and tons and tons of outfits to put on them.  I know.  Perfect gift.
Party site pre-mess.  Kaia helped color and decorate the letters.  Because Kaia has been really shy at the last few parties, and I wanted her to have an amazing party, we arranged a few early arrivals so it wouldn't be like her house was invaded by 14 kids at once.  Worked like a charm and by the time a few were there she was in party mode!!

 Here is the food... fruit, veggies, pita, hummus, guacamole, smoky dip, quiche, hot dogs, popcorn, chocolate banana bread, peanut butter brownies, and snickerdoodles.  The kitchen is still cooling down.  Yummmmm!!

 Here is Big Theo and Little Theo.  Can you tell that Little Theo gets more than just his name from Big Theo?  Almost all his clothes are Theo-me-downs and it totally shows.

 Lots of games.  Carl did that.  Huge props to Carl because he did an awesome job!!!  Here is the balloon pop.  There are sweeties in each one and the kids have to pop them to get them.  To get a candy even I tried... but popping a balloon is scary!!  I had to leave that to the kid-experts.

 Here is the obstacle course.  In the theme of Dora they have to go 
Under the wobbly chair, 
Backwards through the big tall grass,
Push the truck of teddies to safety in the garden bed, 
And around the back of the house to...
Get back to the wobbly chair :)
Kids will do anything if you ask in an enthusiastic voice!!

Theo wanted to play too but had no idea what to do so he started crawling excitedly around where everyone was pushing trucks of teddies.

And of course the cake.  Dora held 4 relighting sparkler candles in her hand. In the end we had to enlist the help of everyone to blow them out.  Happy Birthday Kaia!!!