Friday, December 12, 2014

December 12, 2014 - Holiday Cheer

Before we fly north for the next few weeks, I'll just share some of the holiday spirit the kids have experienced this week.  

First there was Grace's Christmas party, and one of the "room parents" in her class made an Olaf (from Frozen) pinata which was a very big hit.  Along with my chocolate chip cookies (maybe it was just Grace eating them!).  It was a very happy and "sweet" celebration.  Grace is a happy girl at school.  And, actually, we got her first "official" report card yesterday.  It was detailed and positive, and we are so happy to hear how she is progressing physically, creatively, and cognitively. But the bit we were most proud to read was that Grace has a lot of empathy and caring for other children, particularly if they are sick or injured or sad.  Kindness is the most important thing, so that was wonderful to read.  

Then today was the celebration of Santa Lucia at Nordic school for Noah's class - a Scandinavian tradition that we see here every year.  I know I am completely biased, but sometimes I think Noah is so cute that my heart hurts a little!  The video is a little long (including bits from 3 of their 4 songs) but I just couldn't cut it down!  Yesterday they also had a "fancy" Christmas lunch and Jule Man (Santa Claus) came to visit.  Noah couldn't quite decide if that was the Tanzanian Jule Man or the Svenska (Swedish) Jule Man.  Either way, he was pretty happy about it.  

I love Christmas traditions and all the wonders of Christmas that do not include just the receiving of gifts.  I hope that as my kids age they will continue to love these special celebrations and appreciate that giving to others is the true blessing of the season.  Noah told me today that it will be very nice for Jesus on Christmas when it is his birthday.  Indeed.

Safe travels to anyone flying the holiday friendly skies like we will be.  I hope to check in before the new year!

p.s. Aya got over her jet-lag just in time to learn how to stand up in her crib.  Yeah.  So that's happening throughout the night now.  If I get more than 3 consecutive hours of sleep in the next 3 weeks, it will be a Christmas miracle indeed!  Santa, please!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December 11, 2014 - Holiday Updates

I could start with a lack-of-blogging apology, but really that is just the status quo these days so what's the use?!  Instead, I'll start with a correction...when looking over some papers the other day I found Aya's report from seeing the pediatrician in the US and her stats are way more impressive than I reported.  She is actually 65%tile for height and 80%tile for weight!  The big kids never had such numbers so I feel I short-changed her a little bit by not reporting them accurately.  The numbers now make much more sense when compared to her thighs :)  She is strong, healthy and our most active little one for sure.  Some people are placing bets that she'll walk much earlier than her siblings, but this Mama is in no rush for that!

The rest of our trip to America was great, despite our colds and Aya's permanent sleep issues.  We spent time with both of my sisters, got a lot of shopping done, visited with just a few dear friends, and enjoyed a really nice day with my family on Thanksgiving.  I was too busy enjoying to take many pictures, but here are a few of Aya's First American Thanksgiving.

Aya always smiled for Michael...except in this picture (because I was taking it!).

 Auntie Meghan & Patsy
 Uncle Tim teaching Aya all about fine jewelry...
 OK, this might be a crazy picture...but it was a delicious turkey!  It was so nice to be home for it - thanks so much to my parents for giving me such a wonderful day!
 Snuggles with Pops...
 And Pretty Nene!

Meanwhile on the homefront, Grace and Noah had a "Tanzanian Culture" performance at the Nordic school.  Grace loved the drumming, as you can see in the video below.  Noah was too shy for that, but did proudly show off his Tanzanian safari artwork to Kristoffer (sorry, English-speakers...that video is Danish only!).

They also decorated our small tree before Aya and I came home.  
Good practice for the real deal in Denmark!

Aya has just gotten over her jet-lag today - it took the full 8 days (1 day per hour of time difference) which has been tough on me. We're busy packing up and celebrating the holidays here with school parties.  Tomorrow night we'll be off for three weeks of Danish Christmas. We are all very excited - especially for Aya to meet everyone there for the first time.  So much to be excited and thankful for this time of year.  Happy Holidays!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

November 21, 2014 - 7 Month Surprise!

Greetings from America!  Aya and I made our way to Boston a few days ago.  It was a VERY long trip (to say the least) and she had just started to have a cold before we left so of course it got much worse during the course of the 24+ travel hours.  We flew through Turkey:  first flight to Istanbul (7 1/2 hours) she did great, layover (3 hours) she did great, second flight to Boston (10 1/2 hours + 2 1/2 hours sitting on the plane before take off because of a broken fuel pump at the airport) she did not do so well at all.  Who could blame her?!  

One of our first stops in America was to visit the pediatrician yesterday.  Aya weighs 17.6 lbs (75%tile!!) and is in the 85%tile for her length as well.  She got several vaccinations and a flu shot - which was a necessary evil but didn't necessarily help her feel better right then!  It was great to have a nice long talk with the doctor here, who we love!, because I had been communicating with her closely when Grace was very sick.  She was thrilled with how well and healthy Aya is.  She asked me, "So she can roll over back and forth?"  I was like, "Um...yeah...she's crawling everywhere!"  Our most "advanced" baby for sure.

Aya loves the sound of her voice and makes really funny noises to hear herself.  She loves to watch herself (laugh at herself, talk to herself...) in a mirror.  She is a quick crawler now and is increasingly trying to pull herself up to standing with a few successful attempts already.  The other day when Kristoffer came home from work, she crawled right over to him with a big smile and he was thrilled for the first time that she officially greeted him.  

Aya continues to adore adore adore Grace and Noah.  She also really loves Oliver, our nanny, who she hangs out with a long when I'm on carpool duty for the big kids. Musical toys and balls seem to be among her favorite things.  Also small pets - cats and dogs!  She likes cruising around in her walker or playing in her exersaucer. She still likes her bath a lot and enjoys swimming some of Dar's very warm pools. She is eating a little bit more - trying new things and wanting to feed herself rather than being fed. The doctor said all the feeding guidelines in America have changed and babies can now eat ANYTHING from 6 months old (except raw honey!).  So her meals get more interesting now that there are no restrictions :)  No teeth yet - please come soon!

It's hard to believe that another month has come and gone, and that we're already in America to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family.  It's my first time celebrating Thanksgiving at home in 7 years - before Kenya! Before Kids! That was another life for sure. After this quick trip Aya and I will head back to Dar for a little while before our whole family goes to Denmark for Christmas.  It's been so wonderful to have these holidays to look forward to.  

Great job to Aya for continuing to be an awesome little baby (despite still not sleeping through the night - ACK!) and for continuing to make us all so happy (just can't wait until we're happy AND rested!).  I'm hoping that in the next few days she'll warm up a little bit more to my parents - she is not yet interested in being removed from my hip but they sure would love to hold her a bit more (without the crying!).  Here's our sweet girl...7 months old, jet-lagged, and perfectly snotty! 


Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17, 2014 - It's Easy Being Green

Grace's school has a theme of "the environment" this year, so lots of talk about taking care of the planet, the environments of different countries, recycling, etc.  Each grade gets to participate in a musical concert on the theme of the environment.  Kindergarten, Grade 2 and Grade 4 performed last week.  Grace's grade did a "square dance" kind of number (admittedly, I have no idea what that song was about since I was distracted helping Noah to participate in the dance with Grace because siblings and parents were encouraged!) and a song called "It's Easy Being Green" about all the ways you can be kind to the planet.

It was very cute, despite my (really really really) bad footage and pictures.  Kristoffer was traveling and I had Noah and Aya with me.  And we had to leave the house at 6:25 am to get there.  Clearly, I'm excused from any expectations. I was there! And Grace was proud and happy, as usual.  

Poor Footage:

Poor Pictures (they were supposed to wear green and/or white...Grace had neither so chose her favorite and well-worn dress that has a little bit of both!):


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

November 12, 2014 - Where to Begin?

Hi again.  Remember me?  I used to blog here a lot.  Then I had my third beautiful child and somehow she broke the proverbial straw of the camel-blogger's back.  I just can't get my blogging act together!  Sorry!  I think about writing blogs a lot. In my head I start to compose them even.  But if there is a choice between taking a 30 minute nap or writing a blog, the nap is winning every time these days.   Anyway, here is kind of an update of our recent goings-on, just to string you (and myself!) along until I can up my game.

The week of Halloween (right after my last post) and the week after Halloween were very challenging.  Grace became sick on Monday with a very bad headache, a very high fever, and an extremely high white blood cell (WBC) count causing the doctor to diagnose "bacterial infection" and put her on antibiotics.  Her fever - going as high as 104 (40c) and coming down lower than 103 (39.5c) for short stints ONLY with the help of some serious medication - didn't break until Saturday evening.  The initial antibiotics didn't work and the second antibiotics still didn't make a dent in her WBC. She couldn't eat or drink and so became quite dehydrated.  She ended up with an "IV" for three days to receive a third kind of (stronger) antibiotic and fluids for her dehydration.  We were in and out of the clinic - sometimes staying there the whole day! - for 5 days.  She did end up with other symptoms like swollen glands and tonsils, stuffed up or runny nose.  No cough.  No ear infection.  It was so strange.  But she was sad and miserable, and also very cooperative considering all the needles, injections, medications, etc.  It was all very exhausting for her and that is hard to watch in your child when you can't just make it all better very quickly.  Patience with African health scares is not a strength of mine. 

At some point Noah got it, with a concentration in his right ear.  At another point Aya got it, with a concentration on the fever (not as high as Grace's thankfully) and general unhappiness. From the start of Grace's fever to the end of Aya's fever, it was a 10-day "siege" that left me and Kristoffer completely and utterly exhausted.  That could possibly explain why I am now on antibiotics for a sinus infection myself.

Our friends here were extremely concerned and very, very helpful.  We would definitely have been even more stressed without them and without our trusty staff, Oliver and Christopher.  We survived the siege, but not without a few lasting scars.

I would say we are just about recovered from all of that, but now Kristoffer is traveling this week for work so I'm dealing with the night-shift on my own.  Aya is miserable at night - WILL SHE PLEASE JUST GET A TOOTH ALREADY!? - and last night Noah decided to be awake for 2 hours in the middle of the night as well ("Mama, do you want to read some books?" he innocently asked me at 2:30 am.  I'm sure I said something inappropriate but can't remember my actual response.).  

Grace had a sweet musical assembly at school today - I'd love to post a bit about it here, but that will have to wait time (whenever that may be).


Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014 - Half-Hearted Halloween

This year, we aren't doing so well in the Halloween department.  The past two years I have planned or helped plan a trick-or-treat event for the kids at their preschool, but this year I'm basically too tired to do it.  And you can't really trick-or-treat here because of security (lots of gates and compound walls and guard dogs!).  

Instead we went to a children's Halloween party this past Saturday and plan to go to another one this coming Saturday.  No official trick-or-treating, but at least the chance to dress up. 

Noah took it much more seriously than Grace did this year.  He was VERY into his pirate costume :)  She just wanted to wear her dragon cloak and, honestly, it's super hot here these days so very involved costumes are a bit tough.  There were no kids that she knew at the party we went to so we think that dampened her spirits...perhaps next weekend's festivities will be more fun with her.  

I tried with Aya - admittedly there was no advanced planning before the day of this party - but our baby costumes are super heavy and hot (remember Grace and Noah as giraffes for their first Halloweens?).  The coolest one - a little dragon which was Noah's in the past - was still too hot for her, so she did not really wear it in the end. Someday, I really hope we will be in America for Halloween just so we can make it a big deal and they can really experience the crazy spirit of the event.  That is something to look forward to.  In the meantime, here was our meager attempt...thank goodness for Noah's enthusiasm!

(at least she perked up a bit once we took her out of the dragon clothes!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 21, 2014 - Aya's Big Week

Six months old today and started to crawl YESTERDAY.  Aya can get on all fours but doesn't quite crawl that way yet - it is more of an army style crawl, although even since yesterday she has gotten faster and more precise.  I think it will be the "on all fours" variety soon enough.

She has started to have the occasional "good" night with only one or two wake ups, but we are still struggling in that area.  She is good at going to sleep on her own in her crib now without nursing or being rocked/cradled to sleep.  And our best night was just shy of 7 hours in one stretch - if we hit that mark I will be REALLY happy (especially if I get all 7 hours!).  

Aya is still mostly nursing but once a day has banana, apple, pear or avocado and maybe a little cereal. She tried but did not love squash.  I will have to increase and expand her feeding now that she is six months old.  Early indicators suggest that she'll be our best little eater.

The big kids love that Aya is more noisy and expressive and mobile now.  They are competing for who can make her smile or laugh the most, and now they are teasing her with her toys: "Crawl over here! Come get your ball!" When I say she has a great laugh, here is a little sample:

We phased out her swing to promote more crib sleeping and she really likes her exersaucer and walker. The bumbo seat would be great but her thighs are too big for getting in and out! HA!  She still really loves her bath.

I think the best news seems to be that her cow's milk sensitivity has subsided so that I have reintroduced a moderate amount of dairy back into my diet with no complaints from her.  Yay for cheese!  And she is no longer getting medicine for her reflux and is almost not spitting up at all.  Just in the last two weeks that has really improved.  Score huge!  (Now what to do with the rest of the year's supply of baby Zantac I brought over from America?)

What a half year it has been!  So happy for Aya's growth and development, but also feeling a wee bit nostalgic for those early baby days.  She is a little wonder and we love her so much.

(this was Aya's last time in her baby tub.  She is sitting up in a bigger, non-reclining tub now.  Still loves it!)
Selfie with Noah and Mama when Far was away in Indonesia!
Our little beauty...even starting to get some hair!

Happy Half Birthday, Aya Karen!

Friday, October 10, 2014

October 10, 2014 - Family Firsts

There's always something going on in our house.  Often that "something" requires a trip (or many) to the clinic.  And so it was these past two weeks as well!

Some good "firsts":

  • I survived my first time solo-parenting 3 kids while Kristoffer traveled to Indonesia for work.  (Note that he thinks if I write "Indonesia" instead of writing "Bali" that sounds more like work and less like vacation.)  I had Oliver work an hour and a half extra each day to help with the witching hour trifecta of bath-dinner-bedtime and we all survived, despite me not getting a lot of sleep.  I decided to sleep train Aya as a belated birthday present to Kristoffer (among the crazier gifts I've given him), so he got to miss out on the hardest parts of that.  She is now pretty good at putting herself to sleep in her own crib without fussing, but alas, has not stopped waking up at night yet!  And Noah was also waking up at night a few times as well, so that was the hardest part of Kristoffer being away.  We all missed him and were happy when he came home - I think Noah the most, because they are best friends to be 3 and your best friend goes away for a week.
  • We saw Grace swim to the very bottom of the pool at school for the first time.
  • Aya went swimming in the pool for the first time.  Similar to bath time:  she loved it!  She also moved on from bananas to apples and avocado and butternut squash.  Banana is totally her favorite, but last night when she was finished with her squash and applesauce she cried when I took the bowls away. Did we finally get a really good eater?!
The biggest, and most painful, first of our week was undoubtedly Noah's first big injury.  Thank goodness it was not worse (and thank goodness K was home from his trip!), but his monkey act on the playground which was preceded by him telling Grace, "Look what I can do," landed us in the clinic getting stitches for his split chin on Sunday afternoon.  It was bloody and painful and traumatic (physically for him, emotionally and parentally for us, empathetically for Grace!), but he did as well as could be expected of a 3 year old with a seriously split chin.  It seems like the sheet they had to put over his face when the doctor was doing the stitches was among his least favorite parts.   For us, it was him having to get two shots of anesthesia before the stitches. Horrible!  He was rewarded well with popcorn and candy for dinner and bottomless episodes of "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" for the rest of the day.  Thank goodness for iTunes.

The stitches were removed this morning - that was a little bit tricky as one of the stitches seemed to have grown into the skin - but he was really great and so brave to go back into the same room with the same doctor and nurse as Sunday.  Now covered in steri-strips only, it will be a pretty big scar but since he is so young it will fade quite a lot with time.  I will be interested to hear how "big" the story gets as he ages.  I know for a fact that Grace has told anyone and everyone who would listen on our peninsula about Noah's big fall and just how much blood there was ("He was bleeding forever!").

This past week also marked Aya's second virus - fever for 3 full days, but no bacteria so no antibiotics this time around (she's already had those twice too).  I thought/hoped it was her getting a tooth but 102.5 is pretty high fever for teething and it broke last night with no tooth to show for it.  She was complaining a lot and not sleeping restfully.  And we went to the doctor twice for it (throw in an extra visit with Grace last weekend to check out her cough, and we've been there 5 times in the last 7 days!) Maybe this weekend will be the time when she decides to just sleep on through the night.  A Mama can dream!

So now the kids have a break from school - one whole week off!  Of course it comes just as they are doing pretty well in their school routine and super early morning schedule (read: fewer temper tantrums at home!).  The week will be just enough time to screw their bodies up and make getting back into the routine the following week a very big pain. Unlike many friends, we are not traveling this week so will have to get creative with how to pass the time in increasingly hot-as-hell Dar.  Summer is officially here again!