Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 28, 2009 - Comedic Timing

Grace can be really funny these days.  For example, yesterday we were at our neighbor's and the 8 year old didn't want to do her spelling homework.  I told her that Grace was a great speller and could help her out.  Right at that moment, Grace made a noise that sound like she was saying the letter, "A"...proving to the little girl that she could really spell!  It was pretty funny.

Grace is also getting good at grabbing stuff.  Last night Kristoffer held out his credit card, and she grabbed it with a BIG smile.  I think we should be worried when she is a teenager!  She is a precocious 13 week old for sure!

And then she tried to eat it, naturally, because whatever is in her hand she tries to put in her mouth!
Another new thing with Grace is that she loves the song "My Favorite Things" from the Sound of Music (you know...Rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens...etc).  When I sing it to her she smiles, laughs, and even tries to sing along!  

Boy are we having fun with her!  Tomorrow night we are off to Denmark.  I'm sure I won't be blogging quite as often as normal, but I do hope to check in every now and then to share Grace's first Danish experience!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 27, 2009 - The United Nations of Moms

Yesterday Grace and I went to our new mom's group...or as I like to call it, "the United Nations of Moms": we were two Americans, two British, a German, an Italian, a New Zealander, and a woman from Singapore!  Babies ranged in age from 3 weeks to 7 months.  Grace slept through most of our get together at a nice outdoor cafe (as did many other babies), but I really loved talking to some other moms!  Half of us are first time moms and half are second time moms so it was a great balance of questions and experience.  We've decided to meet once a week (although I'll miss the next 5!) and will rotate at outdoor cafes and people's homes.  We will usually have a topic to discuss and will sometimes bring in experts (for example, someone to do a first aid training with us), and other times will just let the babies play and the mommies chat!  It is exactly the kind of group I have been hoping for so that Grace and I can make some new friends and so I don't feel all alone as a mom so far from home.  The whole thing makes me very happy and gives me something to look forward to when we come back in July!

Now we are starting to pack for our trip; we leave Nairobi late Friday night.  Who knew such a small baby would need to travel with SO MUCH STUFF!?!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 26, 2009 - Quarter Year

Hi there.  Today I am 3 months old.  What a life I have!  They keep telling me that soon I will fly on an airplane to far away places where I will meet a lot of people who are related to me or who are my very good friends.  Sounds good!  But how far exactly is far?  And how long will I have to be on one of these airplanes?  I guess I'll found out soon enough.  

Yesterday Mom and Far took me to see Dr. Nesbitt again and, once again, I got very painful shots in my legs and drops in my mouth.  They keep telling me it is for my own good, but I don't see them getting those shots do I?!  Ouch!  This time, though, they gave me medicine beforehand and I felt a lot better than I did a month ago when I got the same shots.  I was a little fussy the rest of the day, but did not scream in pain all night or have a fever like last time.  And the good news is that it was my last Hepatitis B shot, which is the most painful one.  Far took pictures of me last night when I still had band aids on both of my thighs.  I was happy though because it was time for my bath!

When I was at Dr. Nesbitt's, we found out that I weigh 5.4 kg/11.9 lbs and that I am 59.5 cm/23.4 in long.  I am in the 50th percentile for both weight and height so even though Kenyans think I am huge (African babies tend to be a lower birth weight than I was), I am just average!

My mom is a little bit crazy with her camera and this morning made me pose for all kinds of pictures.  I was definitely smiling and laughing a lot, but not necessarily at the exact moments when she was snapping the pictures.  Maybe she needs to hire an assistant to help with her photo shoots (or wait until Far comes home!).  She noticed when I was getting my picture taken how strong my neck and head are; I was moving my head a lot and trying to sit up on my own.  She seemed very excited about this. I was also trying to get rid of that annoying sign she was making me hold!  Sometimes my mom can be so silly.  Mom and Far also have been saying a lot lately that I look like my cousin Josefine.  She must be very pretty and I can't wait to meet her soon.  

This afternoon we are going to our first play group with other moms and infants.  Mom seems very happy about this and maybe it will be nice if we both make some new friends.  After all, once I can sit up by myself all the time I might want people to hang out with besides my parents!

Okay...I'm thinking about having lunch now so it is time to go.  Happy quarter year to me!

Monday, May 25, 2009

May 25, 2009 - Daddy's Little Girl

Grace loves to spend time with her Far.  

These were pictures from two Sundays ago before Kristoffer went to Mozambique.  Grace was looking for something to suck on, and Kristoffer's neck happened to be her target:

And this was taken this past Saturday after we were all reunited when Kristoffer got home from his trip.  He was tired because he picked up a cold during his travels and she was tired from a week of not sleeping so well:

As for me, I spent 2 1/2 hours on Saturday at a spa (cashing in my Mother's Day gift) and it was heaven!  Grace decided to go a long time without eating (during the day she usually eats every two hours like clockwork) and so my treatment was not interrupted at all.  It was perfect!  There's nothing to wash away the vestiges of pregnancy (and of a week as a single mom) like an exfoliating body scrub and deep tissue body massage.  I'm a new woman!

Stay tuned tomorrow for Grace's 3-month update!

Friday, May 22, 2009

May 22, 2009 - Hold On Tight and Laugh Out Loud

This week Grace started doing something new when playing on her monkey mat.  

Step 1:  Grab the monkey's green ring (she's been doing this for a few weeks, albeit inconsistently - now she does it every time):

Step 2:  Pull the ring towards mouth while furiously make smacking and sucking sounds with lipa and tongue and also trying to fit other fist in mouth with the ring:
Today she also had a super cute new moment.  When I was changing her diaper she was very happy, as always.  And she started smiling a lot and "talking", so I started to tickle her a bit and she loudly belly laughed!  It was so cute and she did it about three times when I was tickling her whilst saying the word for "tickle" in Danish (which I can say but cannot spell).  I was so excited that I immediately called my mom on skype for her to see and hear, but of course Grace wouldn't do it again.  I am hoping she will do it for Kristoffer sometime this weekend.  Thank goodness he is coming home tonight!


p.s. Grace will probably only fit into her "Made in Kenya" onesies for another week, if that.  They are getting a bit snug.  It is sad for me - they are my favorites!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 21, 2009 - One Year Later...

One year ago tonight, I got out of my second heart surgery in as many days just in time to watch David Cook win the American Idol finale.  If you had told me that night that in one year's time I would be sitting in my living room in Kenya with my 12-week old daughter watching another American Idol finale, I would have asked you if you were taking my painkillers!

What a year this has been for me.  I recovered from what was definitely one of the most difficult experiences of my life just in time to enjoy a wonderful pregnancy and the very best experience of my life: the birth of this beautiful, amazing little girl.   

I'm sorry to be so emotional, but I don't take it for granted for one minute that if I hadn't been through those unexpected surgeries last year, it might have been a lot more difficult for me to bring Grace into the world.  It has been a year of blessings for me.  My heart is healthy yes, but more importantly my heart is full.  Grace is healthy and such a sweet, sweet baby.  She makes every moment of life worth living and I thank God for that.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 19, 2009 - Talk Talk Talk

Here are some clips of Grace "talking" on video camera today.  She was going on and on for about 30 minutes and had the hiccups for almost the whole time.  Very cute.  Don't worry, the video isn't 30 minutes...just about 90 seconds :)  She will be 12 weeks old on Thursday.


p.s. this time it only took 4 hours to upload so i must be doing something right!


May 19, 2009 - Tuesday Morning Thoughts

Grace seems to be going through her 3-month growth spurt the last two days.  Let's hope it doesn't last too much longer because she is not sleeping much, she is eating constantly, and she is otherwise not the happiest camper.  It would not be that bad if Kristoffer was around to help, but he isn't and so I am going it alone.  I learned this morning that there is a reason Kristoffer cuts Grace's finger nails: I am really bad at it!  She scratched herself badly last night so I sucked it up to do it myself this morning, and now she has jagged and crooked fingernails all over the place.  I was too afraid of cutting her fingers!

Anyway, aside from the little one growing as she should, things here are fine.  Last week I had a show-down of sorts with Ida, our housekeeper.  We haven't been too happy with her work or her attitude and we were seriously thinking of letting her go.  Instead, I decided to be brutally honest with her, lay it all on the table, and see what happens.  I figured that if things didn't get better then we would be no worse off and, after all, we have made an investment of time and money in her so far.  The conversation we had was 40 minutes long: note that my neighbor says she has never spoken to any of her staff for 40 minutes total, let alone all at once!  I told Ida why I was unhappy and what she needed to do to keep her job.  She told me that she was afraid of me and that I was much nicer before I had Grace.  I can only interpret this to mean that I used to talk to her more before I had Grace and now she feels left out (especially since I am not using her as a nanny).  I basically told her she needed to work harder and that if she didn't get unafraid of me ASAP, she would lose her job.  Obviously the conversation included a lot more, but that is the gist of it.  And since then she has been much better - not lurking around like she thinks I'm going to lash out at her, and definitely doing much more work than she was before.  I also had to tell her that we won't be giving her any more loans after she asked for another one last week.  We are paying off our own debt and shelling out loans to every Kenyan who asks (our guards, our property caretaker, Kristoffer's colleagues, our driver Charles, Ida, etc.) increases the interest we are paying on our own debt!  She did not take kindly to this news at all and argued for the loans for quite a while - obviously she assumed that every time she asked for money we would oblige.  I told her that if she was looking for that quality in an employer than she should start looking for another job.  After that she stopped complaining.  So it is a bit difficult because we pay her and Charles well, they have great vacation, easy work hours, and we think we are kind to them.  But then when I tell her to stop asking for money I come across like a "rich bitch" (pardon my language) so I feel like we can't win.    

In other news, here is an interesting article in today's Washington Post about political tensions in Kenya these days:

It is, unfortunately, increasingly likely that the country will see more violence, as the situation remains tenuous at best.  I have two hopes about this: if there is more violence, I hope it is not worse than last time; and, if there is more violence, I hope it happens in the 5 weeks we are on vacation and not while we are here.  Even though our immediate surroundings will not be affected and as expats we are safe from tribal issues, it is generally stressful and exhausting to be living in a country going through such turmoil and I certainly do not wish Grace to be exposed to it.

I guess that's all for this morning.  While Grace is sleeping (more deeply than she did at all last night, by the way) I should take advantage of a quiet opportunity to eat breakfast and take a shower!


Friday, May 15, 2009

May 15, 2009 - What's in a Name?

In the past few days, I’ve realized that although I call Grace by her first name most of the time (because I want her to know and respond to her name as soon as she can), the nicknames that I also call her on occasion are completely absurd and non-sensical.  In the last few days, I have caught myself calling her (in order of frequency):

  • ü  Baby Pie (I suppose this is derived from “cutie pie” or “sweetie pie”)
  • ü  Monkey Do (derived from the phrase “monkey see, monkey do”)
  • ü  Peanut Butter or Peanut Butter Cup (an extension of the nickname “peanut”)
  • ü  Gracie (the only obvious nickname I think!)
  • ü  Punky Punk (I have absolutely no idea where this one came from)
  • ü  Spit-Up Monster (self-explanatory)
  • ü  Cheeks McGee (I also have no idea about this one!)

I hope calling my daughter these terms of endearment doesn't scar her for her life.  My father had taken to calling her "Angel 2" because he used to call me "Angel" and she reminded him so much of me as a baby.  I think, given the picture we took of Grace last night when she fell asleep in her swing, that his nickname might be the most appropriate of all:

Happy Weekend!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 14, 2009 - 200 + 11 = Life in Nairobi

200 blogs after we began "Life in Nairobi", our daughter is 11 weeks old.   So crazy!  

Yesterday Grace had her first "play date" with her friend Freddie who was born one week after she was born.  Freddie's mom was a colleague of mine when I was working last year and we decided to meet for lunch at a cafe.  She and I had a great visit, but Grace and Freddie didn't really have a chance to hit it off.  Grace slept for the first 90 minutes of our visit, and then when she woke up to eat Freddie went to sleep!  We decided next time we'll try it at one our homes and maybe they won't be so inclined to sleep in their strollers :)

We have also been making plans for next week - to meet some people for lunch, to go to the doctor's (for me), and to watch the American Idol finale with our neighbors because Kristoffer will be away in Mozambique from Monday to Friday and we are a little nervous about being lonely! 

Here are some of Grace's 11-week old smiles:


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 13, 2009 - Baby Reactions

Last night, I had such a funny moment with Grace. I had just finished feeding her and was trying to burp her.  Burping, by the way, is not Grace's most successful past time.  So I'm trying and trying with no luck, and I hold Grace up directly in front of me and I'm talking to her telling her that I think she will feel better if she burps.  Instead of burping, at this precise moment she decides to go for projectile spit up.  All over me: my shirt, my face, and in my mouth.  So gross!  My reaction to this was sort of a yell/gasp: "AAAAH!!!"  I didn't plan to yell like that, but I was caught off guard and it was an honest reaction.  

So what does Grace do after I yelled?  She looked completely shocked for about 7 seconds before a very distinct, sad frown slowly developed on her face and then she burst into tears.  Literally!  It was so cute and funny that I just had to laugh, although I suppose that wasn't very nice of me because she was really sad and crying pretty hard.   She actually thought I was yelling at her, and definitely didn't like it - who knew babies were so sensitive!  That happened once before when Kristoffer jokingly yelled at her for doing something like baby-punching him in the face, but she didn't take it as a joke and started cry.  Clearly, she does not want to be in trouble with her parents.  And she is really funny about noises in general.  You could be banging drums next to her or watching a movie with loud sound effects and if she is asleep, she will remain asleep.  But if you sneeze quietly or slightly move a piece of furniture?  That wakes her up for sure!  

As you can probably tell, we are truly enjoying all of these small moments of Grace's development.  And, as you can see below, she is very happy when we have tummy time and is getting bigger and stronger every day.  


Monday, May 11, 2009

May 11, 2009 - Happy Mother's Day

While every day feels like Mother's Day with Grace, this weekend was particularly lovely and I really enjoyed my first Mother's Day.  We relaxed all weekend with sun-bathing, swimming, an addictive TV show and even eating out.  Grace gave me a lovely card (she is quite the writer in English and Danish!) and a gift certificate for a spa treatment before we go on our trip.  Can't wait for that!  Her father gave me beautiful flowers and took me out to a new restaurant for dinner.  It was our first time eating out for dinner since Grace was born and like a good little girl she slept through the entire meal so Kristoffer and I enjoyed some non-baby conversation.

I am a very lucky wife and mother indeed to have these two by my side!


Friday, May 8, 2009

May 8, 2009 - Tale du Dansk?

Grace and I are working on our Danish in anticipation of our trip to Denmark next month.  It is very important for everyone in Denmark to speak to Grace in Danish (not in English for my sake) and for my Danish to improve so I know what they are saying to her!   I find that I can understand more than I can say, and I can say and read more than I can write.   Kristoffer speaks to Grace in Danish a lot of the time, but because his whole life here in Kenya is in English sometimes he forgets and so we all have to remind him: Danish only with Grace!  We want this baby to be bilingually brilliant!

Here is Grace’s first attempt at writing in Danish (edited by her father only for spelling):

Jeg hedder Grace Elizabeth Welsien.  Jeg bor i Nairobi, Kenya.  Min far er Dansker og min mor er Amerikaner.  De er heldige kartofler.  Jeg er ti uger gammel.  Jeg vil gerne rejse til Danmark i tre uger i Juni.  Jeg vil gerne moede min farmor, Hans, farfar, Marianne, onkel Rasmus, tante Jytte, og min kusiner Josefine og Nikoline. Nu er jeg sulten og traet.  Knus! Farvel!


Thursday, May 7, 2009

May 7, 2009 - Double Digits

We've got a 10-week old baby over here!  Grace is such a joy these days - her smiles, giggles, and emerging personality make us so happy.  She is constantly trying to suck her thumb (still with no success) and she has a very strong reaction if we trill our lips or tongues.  For some reason that noise totally freaks her out and she looks like a deer caught in headlights if we do that (so, of course, we should stop doing it except getting that reaction out of her is really funny!).    She still has a varying sleep schedule - otherwise known as no schedule at all - but even at her worst she only wakes up 3 times a night which I am not complaining about.  Her unpredictable times are between 4 and 7 in the morning and between 5 and 8 at night.  During the day we read at least one or two books (still working on Alice in Wonderland), we play on her monkey mat, we sing songs, we play on her tummy, and we sleep a bit.  She gets a bath every night between 7 and 8 and she still really likes that.  Last night she stayed awake for all of American Idol (we are almost caught up to America).

Yesterday Grace went back to the eye doctor for a complete eye exam.  We had to put drops in her eyes every 30 minutes for 3 hours before her appointment so that her eyes would be dilated for the appointment.  She didn't love these drops, but she was a real trooper and didn't cry.  When we saw the doctor, she became such a flirt!  She was smiling and giggling, and he told me she was the best, cutest baby he ever examined (I bet he says that to all the moms).  Then I got a long story about his 17-month old grandson in Australia and how much he missed him.  I told him that we know some grandparents who can relate!  Anyway, he confirmed that she currently has no detectable vision problems and her eye health is very good.  Great news!

If only we could say the same about the BUGS in our house!  It is now debatable whether they are poultry mites or other critters.  Basically, after the fumigation last week we were still getting bitten so we had them come back on Monday and fumigate with something stronger.  And still we are bitten and still we can't see the damn bugs!  We are now sleeping in a different bedroom in our house to see if it is that our mattress is infested.  We can't quite tell yet because we are still so itchy from the older bites, but if the problem can't be fixed with a new mattress then we don't know what else we can do.  And poor Grace has all of these bites on her!  At least she doesn't act like she is uncomfortable, but the situation is making me crazy.

Life is good as we head into the last three weeks before we bring Grace home to Denmark and the US.  Her first world tour out of utero!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May 6, 2009 - Movie Star

This is a video that we took of Grace last night after dinner.  It has taken hours, literally over night, to post it (see post from a few days ago titled "Dear Fiber-Optic Cable" for more details)!  I had to make it low quality in order for it to upload at all, but I hope the quality isn't too poor.  In the last few days Grace's smile has grown so big and her giggles so frequent.  She is insanely cute - just look at those cheeks (spoken like a true mother I guess)!  I hope you like seeing her "live"!


Sunday, May 3, 2009

May 3, 2009 - Sleepy Baby

Grace continues to love sleeping in her special seat (thank you to my Aunt Judy for getting us this for my is a life saver and, seriously, I don't know what we would do without it!). She often wakes up when we put her down flat, but if we strap her into her seat she'll stay asleep! (pictures taken on Friday)

And even after a few good nights of sleep (Thursday night she did a stretch of 5 hours and 15 minutes!), she is still a bit sleepy this Sunday morning.  

Also, thank you to Kristoffer from me and Grace for his sweet, sweet blog yesterday.  It was like an early Mother's Day gift and we feel the same about him:  he is a fantastic Far so far!


Saturday, May 2, 2009

May 2, 2009 - To Be a Far

At vaere Far er noget helt saerligt. It is a new feeling and new way of being if you will. For the record, the first two whole hours of Grace’s life she spent with me! She was in my arms, content, new and cute as ever. The next couple of days I was the man, Lisa couldn’t really move so I did everythingJ Then the milk started to kick in and it has been downhill from there.

In my view Lisa is the perfect mother, she is there always, no matter what time a day or night. Like a rocket she will shoot out from a perfect sleeping position and jump up from the bed like superman and attend to Grace – amazing. And more amazing is it that she hasn’t been tangled up in the mosquito net which I myself sometimes struggle with. On a more serious note, watching my wife being a mother has been one of the best experiences of my life. 

And then there is Grace. Grace is a no-bullshit kind of girl. If we supply the basics: food, comfort and clean diapers she is one perfect baby girl, with ear to ear smiles and noises that will enchant everyone. However, if those things are not provided, well I don’t need to tell you what will happen – but there will be trouble.

Lisa spends 24 hours of her day with Grace. I spent from 5pm to 6am. In this day and age I think I should be “graceful” that I am home around 5pm and that I can arrange to eat lunch with my family once a week. So therefore I am happy and full of Grace.  Just for the record it is 7am on a Saturday morning and I am up with Grace who, by the way, has fallen a sleep in her chair and her mother takes two very well deserved hours of rest before the day kicks off.

Enjoy your weekend.


Friday, May 1, 2009

May 1, 2009 - Dear Fiber-Optic Cable...

Dear Fiber-Optic Cable,

We feel we know you so well.  We know you had a tough time traveling under the Indian Ocean from the United Arab Emirates, but we are happy that you finally reached Mombasa.  Life without you is tough. The internet is just not the same; all downloads take forever and the internet often doesn't work in the rain.  Getting a clear connection on Skype is rare and even at WFP the internet connection is intermittent at best.  

From the time we arrived in Kenya we have followed you every week and expected you a lot sooner, but now it seems that we will be connected to you in August 2009.  We can't wait to watch videos on YouTube in real time instead of with hours of "buffering" and to hear sound without a delay.  We look forward to the day when our emails upload right away and when we can finally post videos to our blog!  We are also happy that you will make internet access cheaper for everyone in Kenya!  We just hope that "Africa time" doesn't slow you down anymore and that we can be reunited once again come August.

Kristoffer & Lisa Welsien