Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Another day home with the kids.  Parent Conferences today.  No classes.
 Kaia's artwork adorns the room.  Lots of family shots.  I think she is becoming quite the artist.  Gifted obviously.

 She was really excited for the day after I told her it was a day that we all meet up to say nice things about her :)  She made me promise I would tell her teachers all about how she helped me cook Thanksgiving dinner.  But when we arrived the shy bug kicked in and she spent the entire time behind my back.  Here she is pre-conference showing off her drawing Baby Mermaid Swimming.

 Then a little play to pass the day.  Sandbox in front of Meru... a .little something for everyone.

For dinner I made chicken soup from the leftover bones... then I gave the warm soft bones to the animals.  Remember how I said that Theo loves meat?  When I went to check on them this is what I found!!  I am sure I earned myself a Mother of the Year award for running to get the camera before removing the child from the dog dish.

And a more appropriate use of bones... Kaia and I tore the wishbone.  She won.  She wished for a princess and was so disappointed this afternoon when we came home from school and there was no princess waiting for her.  Not sure what to do now.  Where am I going to find a princess?

Really cute listening to her explain what a wishbone was to her carpool mate.  
On that special day that you make lots of food that is yummy you will find a wishbone inside of the chicken.  The next day when the wishbone is really really dry you pull with one finger and you have to pull really hard, harder than any mommy or daddy.  Then your wish will maybe come true.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

So Finally...

So today both of Kaia's carpool mates were sick and I decided school for a 4 year old wasn't worth one and a half hours in the car... twice.  Instead we decided to make it our offical Thanksgiving and spent the day in the kitchen cooking piles of fragrant food.  Kaia helped me almost the whole time collecting herbs, chopping green beans and potatoes, even putting the spice under the skin of the chicken (yuck!), and she was especially helpful with the pie!!

 Here we are with empty bellies.

 Before we gorge on this.  We have cheesy green beans, chicken, chicken gravy, and very garlicy mashed potatoes.

 Theo is in heaven, he loves meat!

 We are most of turning these two garden pumpkins...

 ... into this amazing pie.  It was the best pumpkin pie I have ever eaten, if I do say so myself, although it is probably the first that I have eaten that was made from fresh pumpkins.  Also notice her hand turkey hat that she made after I explained why we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Wonderful family day.  Does it get old when I say almost every day how much I love my life and my family?  I have to much that I am thankful for.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


A well deserved day at home is a nice break from the madness.  Sadly Carl had to work almost the entire day again at the Christmas Fair.  We missed him but knowing he was probably spending some of his time buying us presents helped ease the pain.

It started with Kaia dancing with her shadow in the morning sunshine.  Unusual that I am able to get the camera out and capture such a moment without her noticing.

Theo has learned a thing or two about potty training.

 And when you can't find Kaia mid-day you just need to check the closest patches of sunshine.  She loves to lay in the grass and soak up the sun.  Total Mama's girl.

 And today, bucket by bucket, they worked TOGETHER to fill the tub with water from the tap.  They also worked together to carry the half full tub across the lawn to the tap to make things easier.  When she first asked Theo to help her I laughed and said he couldn't possibly do that.  I eat my words.

And when Daddy came home he brought a rainbow with him...
 Them be beautiful kids!!

Wow, also can't help noticing that there are 4 shots of Kaia and in every one she has a different outfit.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Fair

We woke up at 715 this morning and as we madly rushed around the house trying to pack for the day and get on the road by 8am I thought the Fair would certainly be the highlight of the day, maybe Santa's appearance.  But today had so many highlights!!

The first was when Kaia spotted a doodoo (bug in kiswahili) above my head in the car just as we were leaving the house.  It was one of the big grasshoppers, approximately 2 inches long.  There were actually 2 of them.  Great.  But it was when she warned me that it might pee and poop on me that things got interesting.  Theo picked up on that in an instant and for the ENTIRE half hour drive he was gasping...
'Ohhhh!!!  Doodoo poop!!  Ohhhh!!  Doodoo poop!!'
And if that wasn't funny enough after 20 minutes... the sunroof started to leak on me... and I said 'Errgh!!  This bites!!'  And from the backseat he chimes...
'Ohhhh!!!  Doodoo poop!!  Ohhhhhhhh!!  Doodoo bite!!'

 At the fair the stand looked beautiful...
 The candles.
Orange Spice, Lavender, Mint Chocolate, Chamomile, and Cafe Latte.  Approximately 180 in total that we made in just over a week.  They were SO beautiful!!

 The cards. 
About 100 of these in 10 styles.  These felt like they took forever to make.

 The ornaments. 
Beaded Kanga material framed in dyed leather.  
Stars, trees, angels, bells, and ornaments.

 The Stockings.
Beaded Kanga backed in dyed velvet.  Price was good on these and they sold out completely by mid-day.
Sadly there were some problems with our advent calendar and it wasn't ready for today.  We will have to save the idea for next year and get it ready early.

 Santa came as always.  Not exactly the same as the old man who plays Santa in Finland who was old and jolly enough to have a beard you could pull for real and it wouldn't come off.

Tradition has been that Santa arrives at the fair and all the kids gather around and he answers some questions.  The older children obviously have a ball with this and try to ask questions that will show he isn't real.  This Santa handled it pretty well but still I think they have to prep the Santas a little better for next year.  Good fun though seeing the kids try to come up with good questions :)

 Here he is with the kids gathered around.  And you can also get a general idea for the fair.  It is huge, the biggest event of the year with vendors from all over East Africa.  If you look closely you can also see Kaia and Carl sitting and listening to Santa.

 Theo found it all a bit overwhelming.  After this we plopped him in the middle of 20 kids playing at the ISM stand and he slept for an hour amidst the chaos.

Then can you believe we had a BIRTHDAY PARTY too!!
It was out at the house I blogged the directions to a few months back, the house where we ride horses.  Only we hadn't been there since the rains have come.

 Oops.  Stuck again.  I made a poor decision.  There was a VERY wet muddy area and space to drive around on either side of it.  I chose to go on the left.  I should have chosen the right.  On the left it was only the top layer of mud that was dry, underneath was 4 or 5 inches of soft slippery mud.  As we started to slide I really though I could get us through it but slowly we got more and more stuck.  Finally learned how to put on the 4 wheel drive today though, always a silver lining if you look hard enough.

Thankfully we were traveling with 2 other cars, 5 adults in total.  Also thankfully, the mud wasn't that deep so pushing the car did help.  One spot was particularly deep and we had to stuff rocks behind the wheels.  At that point we couldn't' push from the back in case the rocks flew out so we had to push from the side.  Since it was my car I pushed the longest and hardest since I REALLY wanted to get it out.  I used the front door as leverage and was directly behind the front wheel at that point....

 Ha Ha Ha!!!  
I am not wearing pants... that is ALL mud!!  A good 3 inches thick in places.
We are 4 awesome ladies and I am eternally grateful to them!!!  And an extra kudos to the driver who took the pic but really should have been in it too.  A total accident that Mt. Meru is centered behind us, a perfect shot to sum up our experience.

As we got back in our cars to drive tho the party one of the girls looked at me and asked her mom... 
'Is she really going to wear that to the party?!?'

 Mental note:
I need to keep a pair of Wellies in the car for emergencies!!

 All was forgotten once I had a nice shower, fresh clothes, and the kids let it loose on the bouncy castle.  Can you find Kaia in the pic?  And notice the beautiful landscape behind the castle.  Almost totally worth the drive out there.

After that we got to hang and drink yummy lemonade and eat awesome cake... inspiration for you Melissa... and procrastinate on going home.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Car pool

I love this picture because it really shows just how different life is here.  They are all on their way to swim class, 8 kids up there... mine are safely at home with Daddy :)

Fair is tomorrow.  Set up went really well today.  Life will settle down now.  Pics to come.

Ho Ho Ho

I got home late enough that I missed dinner and as I was putting Kaia down to sleep she asked for a cookie 'because she hadn't had one today'.  Well Daddy popped his head in to say that she HAD had a cookie today!!  So we had a little chat about lying and she started to cry... 'will Santa still bring me presents?' she wanted to know.  Poor thing, where did she learn that!!  Of course he will my love.

Later as I told the story to Carl he said he was singing Santa Claus is coming to town during dinner and she was keen to know if she had been nice.  When he said she had she concluded... 'Santa should bring me three presents and bring Theo two presents because he has been a little bit naughty.'  Funny lady.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Baking Thursday

Happy American Thanksgiving!!!

I know that technically it is Thanksgiving but we don't have many American friends and there isn't much Thanksgiving spirit so we decided not to celebrate today.  We both worked all day and we all had to get to bed early because it is a school night.  We WILL do it up nicely at some point next week.  The kids can't read the calendar yet anyway so it really is the thought that counts.

And I also know that you aren't supposed to start the Christmas stuff until after Thanksgiving but we are going to mess that up too.  Melanie celebrates St. Nicholas day on December 6 and has been trying to stockpile cookies for a few weeks now... so... being the dutiful friends we always try to be...

 we have been helping her... I know... we are so kind and caring.  We now have, at least until Christmas, implemented Baking Thursdays.  A huge hit.  This week was crowded!!

 A slight distraction for a lesson about nature.  The first time Theo saw Sassy eat an animal he freaked out!!  Theo was following and playing with a chameleon and Sassy walked up, pounced, and the chameleon was gone instantly.  This time he was more interested but still unsure.  The most disturbing part was that at the beginning the mouse was still alive.  I don't know how I feel about the kids seeing this sort of thing, but we can't hide them from it here.

Once things calmed down Theo beefed up. Can you see the teenager in him here?

And finally the cookies were ready!!  Melanie has an awesome German cookbook, all I have to do is point one week and the materials are all ready to go the next week.  This week she had even prepared the dough in advance!!  I LOVE baking Thursdays!!

And a great reason for little ones to get into jammies in less that 10 seconds flat so we can all be in bed by 7pm with a little sweet in our bellies.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Today was a work day for me... candles.  AND a work day for Carl... nannying.  Carl definitely worked the hardest of the two of us!!  He played with Kaia and Theo, Leandra and Yves, and two twins that live at the workshop.  6 kids under 6 from 9 to 5.  That dude was TIRED!!

 Meanwhile, at the workshop...
 Last week we got our hands on the gook from inside a bee hive.

 We took a small test sample and strained out the honey trying to isolate the wax for candles.

 We were actually able to make beautiful leaf impressions in the flattened wax in hopes of rolling it into a beeswax candle but it didn't roll well.  We figured our was was still holding too much honey and thought we would try to clarify it further, but how?  In the meantime, since the process seemed to be working, we strained the remaining honey.  

I read online that we could leave the wax outside and the bees would clean it completely but I thought... where in the world would we get a bunch of bees?

 As the honey was straining we were candle making.  I noticed a bee on the window.  Then a few more.

 We went to lunch and came back to a SWARM!!!  Inside the workshop!!  For those of you who saw this coming... congratulations... because I definitely did not!

 Only Claudia was brave enough to go inside.  She moved the honey outside and built a smoke fire.  But the bees couldn't get out because they kept flying to the window rather than the door.  So I held a huge canvas in front of the window and they started to go out the door.  But there was a little window above the door and many were still caught.  So Claudia had to stand facing the door, stretch her arms up high, and hold material in front of that window.  And they came... maybe 50 of them... flew out in a frenzy past her face, walking on her arms, and finally away to the honey.  Claudia is fearless!!

 Here they are beginning to swarm the honey.  I was too afraid to take pictures during the true swarm.  There were so many bees at that point that it looked like the strainer was filled with boiling water.  They actually elevated the wax out of the strainer and onto the ground around it so they could better clean it of honey.  It was amazing!  And when one bee would get honey on himself the others would clean him.  Nature is so beautiful.  

Ironically these are the bees that originally made the honey, they were just taking back what was theirs to begin with.  I am very curios to know if they know it was their honey, I kind of think they must.  It only took a few hours before they had cleaned all the wax and emptied the bowl of honey, they were gone by nightfall.

 And I think our wax is ready for candle making.  Not exactly the plan, but we are flexible :)  
God bless the bees.

And we aren't going to let something as petty as a bee swarm get in the way of our candle making... here are the coffee ones.  All done and so pretty.

One of the things I love most about the workshop is the beautiful drive out there, it is set amidst the coffee fields and I love driving (or walking, or jogging) through the coffee fields.  It is also fun to look for wildlife and we spotted a couple guinea fowl and a few dikdiks on our way home today.  The dikdiks are really shy but there is one hiding in these coffee bushes, can you spot it?  Kaia could.

And I guess, before I head to bed, I should confess... yes, I am the one who left the door open during lunch.  Ah well.  Live and Learn baby!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Best Day

 It feels like a long time since we had a day with truly no obligations whatsoever.  Today rocked.

 Started off with 2 kids that got along so well.  Here Kaia is reading Theo stories.  She has created a bed on the floor with the couch cushions for the occasion.  Theo is actually listening too.

Then Carl took the kids shopping so that I could get some work done in the garden.  He came home with bubbles and you would think the kids had never seen them before!

 The beautiful sound of children laughing...

 and laughing...

 and laughing...

 We got to talk to Uncle Dave for his 36th birthday.  We called during his party and got to meet all his friends and see his (sadly undecorated) cake (that I am sure tasted like heaven). 

 While I tutored Carl and Amy made homemade flat bread stuffed with homemade hummus AND homegrown mchicha (a local African green veggie).  INCREDIBLE and I am still stuffed!!

We were a little bummed when the power went out because we were in the middle of movie night but it wasn't anything a round of The Shadow Game couldn't resolve.  Kaia and Pray started by pouncing at their shadows on the wall... then they both went manic... we finally had to stop when the puppet monster scared Theo speechless and we began to worry about impending nightmares.

By then the kids were all a little nuts anyway and needed a cooldown!!  Pray's butt shaking dancing was the perfect way to end the night.  Yawn.  Off to bed with me!!