Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Move

No more Bar!!  No more Bar!!  No more Bar!!

A great massage/pedi place opened up around the corner of our old house.  I wish now I had gone more.  Here are my farewell toes.  I love this color! 

I can't believe that less than a week ago I hadn't even packed a single box.  It has been a BUSY week!  Towards the end, as I began to panic, Theo was awesome about going on play dates all by himself.  Here is my big boy waving and yelling 'Bye Mommy!'  And this was his first solo play date.  My baby is growing up.  And I finished so much more without his 'help'.

We also wanted to arrive as lightweight as possible.  So it was time to say farewell to Sauli and Legs.  Saidi and Moses were happy to help.  Kaia really wanted to help too so we did it early in the morning before she clued in.  I will tell a brief description so skip this part if you don't stomach that sort of thing.

Saidi held them tight and quietly slit their throats.  It was quiet and calm and quick.  Then we put them in hot water the feathers pulled out easily.  I was surprised at how quickly a real chicken begins to look like a store bought chicken.  I was also surprised at how small the chickens turned out to be.  I thought both of them were much larger than average but the actual body was average.

Then we removed the lower legs, head, and guts.  Saidi took the legs, head, heart, liver, and kidneys home.  At least I think it was the kidneys, I have to do some research on that, they only knew the words in Swahili.  Inside of Legs we were able to see the yolks of her future eggs.  That was quite amazing.  One was fully formed, another a little smaller, another even smaller, etc, and maybe a hundred itty bitty ones.

At one point near the end I commented that this was the first chicken I had ever killed and they were both very surprised.  They even asked a few times to make sure they had understood me correctly. I was even more surprised that they were surprised.  I think living so closely with them for so long it is easy to forget just how different we are.  I asked if they had ever eaten a chicken from a store and they said they always know whose chicken it was, they had never bought a chicken from the store.  I explained in America you can easily buy a chicken in a store and have no idea where it was raised.  They frowned and shook their heads disapprovingly saying you should never buy a chicken unless you know who raised it.  I smile.  When I was still in America I could easily imagine having that discussion with some arbitrary African.  But now to have the discussion with the 2 men that I share my daily life with was completely surreal.  I love them both so much and have so much to learn from them.

Kaia did notice that very morning that Sauli and Legs were missing.  She hasn't talked much about it though.  We havn't eaten them yet.  We will give to one to Moses.  I think it is a very meaningful gift since we built the coop together, raised them together, and killed them together. 

So a few boxes later we were ready for...

Did I mention that Saidi will come with us to our new house?  We are so happy!  Despite telling him that our new house is easy to find AND giving him a map, between consecutive 13 hour overnight shifts, he came to help us move to make sure he would be able to find the place.  What a sweetie.  He is in the striped shirt.  Moses is in green.

My greatest fear was that the chicken coop wouldn't make it but arrived safe and sound.  We were blessed to find a friend with a huge truck AND to have 7 strapping men to help us move.  I can't believe they carried this by hand, I really didn't think it would happen.
Chickens... Check.

And here is everything we own.  Apparently more than we thought we had.
FYI... the guy in the foreground is wearing Kaia's summer straw hat :)

There goes my chicken coop.  We filled this truck 4 times!

As always Theo was very helpful. If you are wondering why he is naked it is because I sent the 'day bag' on the first trip with Carl, all the other clothes were packed.

We also filled a bus.  Just enough room for Theo to squeeze in for a ride.

And Kaia is just a little excited to be on her way to the castle.

We also filled this bus once.
I moved to Egypt with one duffel bag.  What the heck happened in 14 years!!
How cute is it that Theo fell asleep on the ride!!

And here we are settling in.  The last owner left a crazy ugly and tattered puppy-kitten-thing.  Kaia loves it.  Blah!!

A huge thank you goes out to Amy too... for spending the day at my side, taking care of my children, and documenting the day beautifully for your viewing pleasure.

Lots and lots more fun stories to come in the new house.  Stay tuned for great rat, roach, and frog stories to come :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Penguin Party

Hi there guys.  Been a while.  I guess I have been a little bummed about our upcoming move.  Since it has been so rushed we only saw one place and basically had to take it or leave it.  I like having choices.  The sleep deprivation from the bar music has also made me a touch grumpy.  Poor Carl.  

I am feeling more optimistic about it now.   You all know we want a tiny house (less to clean) and a huge huge garden. Yes, we know what we want.  So I will share the  
perks about the place...
3 stories.
5 bedrooms
8 bathrooms
4 balconies
Staff sleeping quarters and kitchen
HUGE grass covered banda 
Fireplace and barbecue in banda
Male and female bathrooms in the banda
Pool table and dartboard in banda
Weight lifting equipment in banda
Furnished including comfy couches (totally unheard of here!!)
basically a tad excessive

AND the not-so-perks...
itty bitty cave of a kitchen
itty bitty corner for my garden
and will have to sneak in chicken coop before owner tells us it is not allowed

AND worst of all...
it comes with a gardener so we have to give up Moses. 
We love Moses.
And this is very very sad.

I know I have ended with the negatives but I really am feeling more optimistic about things and motivated to turn it into a nice home despite the fall backs.  Maybe an opportunity to learn about butterfly gardens or bird gardens to attract some wildlife and balcony gardening to maximize the yield on a small property.  We will make it wonderful.  And we will do it by the time Tia Leslie and Uncle John arrive for their visit.

In the meantime we have been incredibly busy having fun. 

 Kaia's classmate turned 5 and her mom is AWESOME at throwing themed parties.  She is the one who did the troll cake last year.  This year was a penguin theme.  So this is where the 'penguins' soaped up and  slid down the hill on their bellies.  Both Kaia and Theo were too scared to try but had fun watching.  I would have lathered up and showed them how it was done but there were WAY too many cameras around.

 The penguin bean bag toss.  
And I can't find the photo right now but she made little fish shaped meringue cookies and had the kids waddle over to her with their mouths open to get one.  Friggin' hilarious!!

This morning Kaia put on shorts that are '12-18 months' and I told her they were too small and short.  She had to change.  And she did.  But then when I picked her up from school she was wearing the SHORT shorts!!  She had just put the larger ones on top of the short ones and took them off at school!!!  She said it was because she was warm, but I didn't think we had to worry about stuff like this until high school!!

 Then we spent the weekend with Amelia (the one from both Egypt and Finland).  Bob just accepted a job in Portland for next year so this is the end of an era.  Here they are walking the cat. 

 And here is Kaia (who was inseperable from Amelia the entire weekend) and Amelia chasing butterflies.

 And once we were home from our relaxing weekend, with full and very happy bellies, reality set in.  Packing packing packing.  Theo LOVES to help.  Since Theo is Moses' shadow, I think he will miss him the most.

 And of course I still have to get some work done.  Today we experimented with new candle designs and organized the workshops some more. What a messy room, right.  
And what in the world is in that white box?

Oh, just Theo napping :)

He fell asleep sitting up at the lunch table with a piece of ravioli and a fork hanging out of his mouth!!!  Priceless.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Theo Times

So, here are a few pics to recognize/describe a bit what Theo is about these days ...
Of course he has his major ups and downs with his big sis, but generally he is a very happy, bright and sociable boy ... 
He has taken to reading / looking through books a fair bit when on his own -- especially when Kaia is not around ... he really seems to enjoy it!
Here he looks almost guilty!?  Why?!  He does have this rather bad habit of tearing out pages once in a while .. hmmm ...
and lastly here is a shot of Theo 'hiding' as we play as a family ... Kaia and Mommy had just used this spot/location a few minutes before - and gave Theo a big surprise when he found them here ... so of course he had to try this spot too now for his turn.  Ahhh Theo ... 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bass next door

Carl is back from Nairobi and in good spirits.  He has torn off 30% of the tendon that attaches to the patella.  The doctor hopes that he will be able to walk without a crutch in 4-6 months.  Not exactly the skippity good news that we were hoping for but WAY better than heading to Canada for surgery.  

So... to summarize our break...
Carl tore his patella tendons
Alice broke her ankle
New houseworker and her daughter had typhoid
Spent two solid days with a girl whose measles broke out the following day
Amy's baby had bronchitis (the viral contagious one)
so the rest of us are very very thankful to be strong and healthy!!!

 So with life SO slow we have had to entertain ourselves in interesting ways.  We have moved a bed into the middle of the living room and absolutely LOVE it!!

 While Carl was gone in Nairobi we attended an 8 hour birthday party.  Awesome!!  3 birthdays celebrated.  Leandra is now 4 and Yves is 2.  I earned my keep by blowing up the inflatable pool almost entirely by myself.  My legs were SO wiggly afterward!!! 

 It was on the other end of town and I had to work at that end of town the next day too.  So we spent the night in a tent which was so much fun.  Also nice to be able to celebrate without having to dread the drive home through the city.  In the morning the kids all brushed their teeth together.  They have a little egg timer and they have to brush until all the sand has drained down.  AWESOME idea!!

The tent I brought has an old zipper and in the morning when I got up I was worried they would get stuck inside so I left the door open... only... they have a huge dog and he was comfortable enough to go in the tent.  Kaia woke up to him playfully biting at her pjamas!!!  Way scarier than a broken tent zipper!!!  They recovered quickly.

 And here is my 'work'.  We are constructing a tire climbing wall.  Here you see Claudia, our two gardener assistants, and the 7 children we were watching.  Obviously our days could be slightly more productive!!

And our new PROBLEM!!  Here is our back porch you can see at the bottom of the photo, our back wall, and a roof just past it.  Well that roof is the roof of the new local bar.  They play music all day some days and every single night.  It is loud with lots of bass and you can see how close it is to our house.  I find it insane that someone can just open something like that in the middle of a residential area and no one complains.  IT IS TERRIBLE!!!  So we are looking for a new place and hope to move as soon as possible.  More on that to come.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Carl is off to Nairobi this morning for an MRI.  We are all hoping for good news of a speedy recovery to come.  Poor guy.

In the meantime the blog will get a little wordier.  I have SO many kid-isms to share but unfortunately forget them almost as fast as I accumulate them.  Here are some of the ones that stuck.

I can barely get this guy to wear clothes or chupies on a good day.  One morning while I was doing dishes I can hear the kids playing nicely in the bedroom.  Kaia has a pool party planned and has incited Theo to help with the preparations.  Now how in the world did she get him into a Frilly Dora Bikini without a fight!!!  Originally he had the bottoms on too but I missed the shot.

And here it is laundry day... I am folding clothes from the last 2 days.
Kaia has jammies, 2 chupies, and 4 dresses.
excessive but appropriate.
Theo has jammies, 8 chupies, and 1 shirt.

I am reading a book entitled Growing Great Girls.  The main message is that they need to be told they are loved and that they are special A LOT.  I already believe this but it is always refreshing to have a reminder.  So last night as we cuddled while I put her down to sleep I looked deep into her eyes and told her that she was the best little girl in the whole world.  Her face lit up and she double and tripple checked.  Really?  In the whole world?  Better than all the other little girls?  It is lovely how easy it is to melt a 4 year old's heart....
Then she looked deep into my eyes and told me I was the best mummy in the whole wide world.  And wow, it is lovely how easy it is to melt a 38 year old's heart :)

And when Theo whipped out his sticker book Kaia really wanted him to give her a sticker.  I suggested she ask and when she whined instead I did it for her.  He was more than happy to give her a sticker but she whined that it wasn't the right one and how he never gave her the one she wanted.  So I suggested she say thank you enthusiastically with lots of 'I love its' and 'it is so nices' and I was sure he would give her many more.  She didn't.  So when Theo offered me one I told Kaia that I was sure I could get him to give me a 2nd one and I began to compliment him profusely.  Of course I was showered with many more stickers.  So I smiled and turned to Kaia and said 'see'.  She smiled back and squealed excitedly that she would give me some too and ran off to get her Pretty Pink Sticker Book.... Ummmmmmm.... Point lost :)   

She also has VERY small feet for a 4 year old.  In fact she still wears a pair of gym shoes that a 3 year old outgrew a year ago.  She has become a little self conscious of this because her classmates have started to notice and comment.   I think she should be proud of her little guys because it is just like Cinderella but even that isn't enough to take her mind off it and she likes to check her feet each morning to make sure they have grown a little throughout the night.  And usually they have.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


So ... things are a bit slow at the moment as you might be able to guess; post-Xmas/New Years celebrations, taking down of tree, PJ working at many different small projects including her work with TGT center and the Blue Heron, and of course Carl slowly recovering with his knee.

Even though things are slow, it's such a great time to appreciate being a teacher and the holiday time we get, to spend these lazy days with the kids and really be a father - and of course to give PJ a well-deserved rest/break at the same time.  Here we are playing a blindfold guessing game - this is a fun game for Kaia and the first time we played with Theo ... blindfold, get a familiar / old toy in to their hands and they have to guess.  They love it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Years

This year we were all invited over to our good friends house for a small New Years eve celebration.  Melanie, Stefan and their 2 year old daughter hosted us and it was a wonderful evening turned day event.  Melanie and Stefan are a lovely German couple here that PJ got to know through playgroups. 
Kaia as you can see is quite comfortable with Melanie, and Melanie is so wonderful with all children.
Carl, even with his bad knee was put to some use with making a playlist of music for the night - Theo wanted to help as well of course.
A German tradition for New Years involved melting a small piece of tin over a candle, then rapidly dropping it into a mug of water - and pulling out the resulting shape to be deciphered according to what will be coming your way in this New Year.  Small happy children, buffalos and Darth Vaders were are spotted!
(Go figure!)
Another tradition for Stefan apparently involved creating a hot air balloon and flying it over the neighborhood.  He has never actually been successful at this, but bless him for trying.  This night was not a success despite his best efforts with a garbage bag or two, and all of us helping/hoping.
Well, one of the reasons we love Melanie and Stefan so much is their coffee-making abilities!  We slept over and the next day we were offered plenty of these lovely cafe lattes in their garden.  Ahhhh ...
We lounged in their garden for half the day on Jan.1st and let the kids enjoy the pool, the water buckets, and the praying mantis that invited himself to lunch!
Kaia has no problem here with cooling off from the mid-day heat
Here is Kaia drawing a picture of Grandma (not sure which one here, can you tell from the drawing?)
and in case you think we forgot the little guy - here he is napping away the morning after partying the night before to ring in the New Year ... 
Happy New Year everyone !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Morning

ah yes ... what is more exciting to a 4 year old than the morning after Santa has visited?
and of course sharing/teaching/modeling all this excitement to her 2 year old brother!
 So here are the two tykes ... Theo with his phone from his birthday, and Kaia with her 'ice cream' lip liner (kids makeup) / pen and a candy/lollypop - first thing Christmas morning ... opening up the goodies from Santa in the stockings
 Grandma and Grandpa Love got Kaia an 'Airbrush' kit which she loves ... here are Mommy and Kaia working on it Christmas morning making an angel and a ballerina
 Uncle Dave and his strong sense for scuba-fashion picked out these stylish goggles for the water
 Theo is looking for a slot for batteries here with his trucks from Santa
 Kaia is sporting a new dress from Mommy and Daddy, new Crocs from Grandma and Grandpa Radtke, and her new Princess Ariel doll from friends

 Theo loves his trains anyway he can get them!

and of course the best (?!!?!) for last ... Santa left a dancing pink doggie for Kaia - of course Theo loves it too ... and of course after the 498th play ... Mommy and Daddy LOVE IT TOO !!!!!!!
This is Kaia SECONDS after opening the gift of the pink doggie ... look at the joy in her face!