Sunday, July 26, 2009

July 26, 2009 - Hoy Estoy Cinco Meses de Edad

Hola! Greetings from Barcelona, Spain.

Kirsten and Hans arrived to our rental apartment yesterday (after driving 3 days from Denmark!) at the same time that Kristoffer arrived by taxi from the airport. Then a few hours later Grace and I arrived. It was a lot of traveling for all of us - and I must say that Grace and I did not have the easiest journey (that is a long story, but trust me it was not easy to travel internationally alone with her...especially not when the Kenya Airways check-in lady first told me that we didn't have a seat on the plane at 6:30 in the morning OR when the smelly Dutch backpacker sitting to my right elbowed Grace in the head while she was eating which resulted in 10 minutes of high-pitched shrieking...sigh) - but we did all make it here and the logistics worked out perfectly (much to our surprise).

We spent about 5 1/2 hours walking around the Montjuic Park area of Barcelona today. We saw some of the Olympic facilities (the diving pool and the track stadium) and attempted to go to two different museums BUT one of them was soon to close on a Sunday by the time with got there and the other one was hosting a conference of Jehovah's witnesses and there were hundreds and hundreds (dare I say thousands) of people there so we did not go in. We do have the rest of the week here though (we all leave next Sunday) so I'm sure we will get a chance to see everything we want to see. It is sunny and hot here and, for the first time in a long time, we are super tourists - cameras and maps and guidebooks in tow. Kristoffer and I are happy for Grace to have as much time with her grandparents as possible.

Just as important as being in Barcelona today, Grace is now 5 months old! Here are a few shots of how our little girl celebrated her day (and began to learn Spanish too!):


Thursday, July 23, 2009

July 23, 2009 - Turning 21!

No no, Grace cannot legally drink. But she is 21 weeks old!

Grace is super cute these days - belly laughing all the time, babbling up a storm, sucking and chewing on anything she can get in her mouth, and generally just being a really good baby. For some bizarre reason I don't have any new pictures to prove it...but trust me, she is!

Soon she will stamp another country in her passport as we are leaving for Barcelona, Spain on Saturday morning. We will have internet access at the apartment we've rented so I will post a few updates. And when we get back from Spain she and I will be in Kenya for two whole months (save for one long weekend on Zanzibar - the Tanzanian island) and "Operation Routine" will commence. All of our traveling has not been conducive to Grace having a solid routine or schedule which is not good for anyone, so I will do my best to change that when we get back. We also have the introduction of solid foods to look forward to by the end of August. Our baby is a few days shy of 5 months old...can you believe that?!

Barcelona, here we come! Adios!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

July 22, 2009 - Bilingual Baby

My sister sent me a link to this article yesterday:

It is a good read if you can take a few minutes. It talks about raising bilingual children and how researchers are trying to apply some of the ways children learn language to adult learners. Language acquisition is at its best between birth and 7 years...and, if I remember something from graduate school correctly, it peaks at 3.5 years (which makes sense!).

We are very conscious about raising a bilingual baby. Kristoffer speaks to Grace in Danish, yes, but I am also very aware that she is mostly hearing English given that she is always with me! So there are some things that I only say to her in Danish. For example, when it is time to eat I will never ask her, "Grace, are you hungry?" Instead I say in Danish, "Grace, er du sultan?" The same goes for "Grace, are you tired now?" = "Grace, er du traet nu?" I am also working on a few other regulars to help the cause.

Spending all of next week in Barcelona with her Farmor and Hans will certainly help in the Danish department. We are leaving on Saturday morning!


July 22, 2009 - A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

This picture was one of many taken last week in Northern Kenya (Samburu) by the WFP Country Director, Kristoffer's boss's boss's boss. It shows you how severe the drought conditions are - Kenyans (in this picture a man from the Samburu tribe) are digging and digging and digging in dried up river beds to try and gather small drops of water for their cattle. It is never good when you can see all of a cow's ribs! The situation here is only getting worse.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 21, 2009 - I ♥ Books

I love books! I giggle and coo when Mom reads them to me, I like to gum them in my mouth, and they are generally fun to play with. Yay books!


Monday, July 20, 2009

July 20, 2009 - Fun with Far

I'm no expert, but as far as father-daughter combos go...I'd say these two are tops!

And that about sums up our weekend :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

July 17, 2009 - Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit...

Last night I discovered that Grace and beans do not go well together. I had a traditional Kenyan meal for dinner last night that was loaded with beans. It tasted good, but I don't normally eat a lot of beans so I could not have predicted how it would affect Grace. 10 hours after eating said dinner, at 4 am, Grace woke up and stayed awake crying for most of 2 hours. This was unusual behavior for her. She wasn't screaming in pain, but kept raising her legs, making a lot of uncomfortable pushing sounds and generally did not want to be out of our arms. But alas, nothing came out. At about 7:15 this morning, after a short nap I managed to get her to take in my arms, she painfully passed the most gas I think any baby has ever passed. Seriously - if you think adults fart a lot when they eat beans, well they have nothing on Grace! Poor baby! She is still not completely herself, but I think the worst of it has passed (no pun intended) and I will be careful not to eat so many beans at once again!

Yesterday Grace found a new toy that she really likes - an empty Sprite bottle! Even though she has never had a bottle of her own, she knew just what to do with it and has been enjoying it a lot.

Finally, to celebrate the release of Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince (we've only been waiting two years!), Grace is sporting a Harry Potter-like scar in the center of her forehead. How she got the scratch there we aren't magically appeared after her bath last night. It wasn't Kristoffer because he doesn't have nails, and usually if I scratch her she maybe she did it on her own? Of course, Grace is still eating every two hours which means that a date night to the movies to see Harry Potter is not in the cards for us just yet, but someday soon I am sure. Here's a close up of our little "chosen one"...

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

July 16, 2009 - Half a Pregnancy

Today Grace is 20 weeks old. Given that a pregnancy is considered to be 40 weeks, she is now half a pregnancy old! To celebrate this milestone (ok, ok, I know it is not really a milestone), Grace has decided to show off how much she likes watching TV (example below watching "Dress my Nest" on the Style Network).

No matter what direction she is facing when she is lying down, she will crane her neck to look towards the TV. I guess it's time to start playing some of her baby DVDs! Also these days she scoots all around her mat on her bum using her legs and arms. Sometimes I will leave her to go to the bathroom or something, and then when I come back in the room a few minutes later she is a completely place!

I forgot to mention in my last two blogs that Kristofffer and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary on July 6th. And by celebrate, this is what I mean: we were sitting next to each other on the sixth and final flight of our world tour. Grace was somewhere in between being asleep and awake in my arms and I poked Kristoffer's arm. He took the headphones out of his ear and paused the movie he was watching to hear me say, "Happy Anniversary! Thank you for marrying me." He smiled and replied, "Thank you for marrying me too," and kissed both me and Grace on the forehead. Maybe future anniversaries will be more glamorous, but at the time, a sweet moment like that was perfect for us.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July 15, 2009 - Adjusting

We've been back in Kenya for a week now. Last week the weather was very gray and cold - I had forgotten how cold it actually gets here in "winter". Maybe because I was pregnant last year my hormones masked the chill! But this weekend the weather was lovely and has continued to get nicer and nicer. Yesterday at my mom's group it was actually hot out and we were all confused. Of course we are happy to enjoy good weather, but it is supposed to be winter now so what does this say about climate changes in Kenya? Right now the country is experiencing extreme drought and food shortages in several parts and, because the long rains failed earlier this year, there will not be much of a harvest next month which will drive the country into an even deeper food crisis. Kristoffer says that the WFP Country Director is even more concerned about this than usual.

Kristoffer has adjusted happily back to work; he is always busy and is always taking on new projects. I am sure this endears him to his superiors and keeps him energized too. Over the weekend he took Gert & Kitte to climb Mt. Longonot (Kristoffer's 4th or 5th hike up and around this volcano) and they had a great time. On Sunday we went to church together, we visited the By Grace Orphanage, we took them to see baby elephants at the elephant orphanage, and we went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. It was an action-packed weekend and, as usual, Grace was a great sport through it all. On Monday I brought Gert & Kitte to the local musuem of modern art and to the City Park where you can feed the monkeys. One of the monkeys stole Grace's binky (sut/pacifier) out of her stroller! I think they had a great couple of weeks in Kenya and they went back to Denmark yesterday.

Grace and I had a good time with our group yesterday. One mom brought a 16-day old baby and I thought she was the tiniest thing I have ever seen. Then the mom said that she was the exact same size as Grace at birth! Could it be that I have already forgotten?! All of the other babies were older than Grace yesterday - like in the 6-8 month range - so I got a closer look at what to expect in a couple of months. Most of the conversations revolved around starting solid foods, baby eating habits, and sleep schedules. I think all of these women will be great help to me when we start Grace on solid foods at 6 months. I'm hoping she will start sleeping through the night by then too. Before we went away she was doing much longer stretches than she has been doing the last month. Some of the moms think it could be because of all the changes, traveling, time adjustment...she does need to eat but maybe she needs to nurse for stability and comfort too. Unfortunately, that isn't going to change anytime soon because we leave for Barcelona a week from Saturday!

Oh yeah...about visiting By Grace! The children had never seen a mzungu (white) baby before and they were enthralled. They all wanted to touch her; I kept her in the Bjorn and let them touch her feet and hands (which I promptly scrubbed when we left because really the children and the orphanage are so, so dirty). Gert & Kitte were overwhelmed, as our previous guests have been. Seeing pictures of By Grace is one thing, but being there in person is quite another. We were able to give them some donations - from Gert & Kitte, my parents' friends Dave & Linda Pender, and my Aunt Judy. She said it was the first money they had received since Kristoffer brought other donations in April. We also learned that they haven't received WFP for the children yet, even though they were supposed to start receiving food in January. It appears that there is a problem with one of the agencies that WFP works with to distribute food and they haven't given any to By Grace yet. Kristoffer is investigating this matter at work, because they desperately need the aid.

As for me, I'm a bit tired but pretty good. Today is the first day in a long time where Grace and I have been home alone to do NOTHING and it feels really nice. I am having a little trouble getting used to our staff again. Well Charles, our driver, is fine. He is expecting the birth of his second child any day now. But Ida...oh Ida. Right before we went on vacation she and I had a sort of confrontation, and after that I felt we made some progress and things were getting better. But now it is as if we are starting over from scratch. There has been so much miscommunication between us in the last week that I am going a little crazy. For example, yesterday I was going out and asked her, "Ida, is there anything you need in the house for the rest of the week?" and she said, "No." I said, "Are you sure there is nothing? Because I am not going to the store tomorrow, " and she said, "No, we don't need anything." Great. Until this morning when she tells me that she can't do laundry because we have no detergent. I said, "Why didn't you tell me when I asked you yesterday?" to which she replied, "Because you seemed so busy." Kitte summed this up nicely when she was here: we are speaking two different languages even though we both talk in English!

I realize that this is a very small example and might not seem that annoying, but we have several similar conversations or experiences every day and it is actually very annoying time and time again. Kristoffer feels that it is just because she hasn't been working for the 5 weeks we were gone and that with a little more time things will be back to where they were before we left. I guess we will see.

Here are a few recent pictures:

Grace loved to play with Kitte!

Gert, who was disappointed that none of his safaris were on foot,
was very happy to climb Mt. Longonot!

I think they liked visiting the baby elephants and the lone baby rhino. We saw him about 10 weeks ago and can definitely tell that he has grown!

That's Life in Nairobi.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

July 11, 2009 - Been There, Done That, Bought the Onesie (aka: the longest, most picture-packed blog ever!)

Hi! This is Grace. I am writing this blog to fill you in on everything that happened on my vacation since my mom last posted pictures (about a month ago!). I think we were right up to Farmor's 60th birthday party. So here I am hanging out with my Tante Jytte at the hotel before Farmor's party. She is fun!

Then it was Farmor's party! There were a lot of people celebrating her and she seemed to be very happy. It was the fanciest party I have ever been to!

I took a cat nap during dinner...

but spent most of the night awake and in different people's arms. Here I am with my Auntie Tina, who is also expecting a baby of her own in January.

At the party there were lots of songs and speeches to honor Farmor.

Uncle Rasmus and Josefine seemed to have a good time!

I was really tired, but it was very hard to sleep with lots of music and laughter. Towards the end of the night I was just hanging out with Far and Auntie Marianne.

The next day after the party we went to Farmor's on her actual birthday to celebrate with the family. I loved when Nikoline would hold me.

Unfortunately, every time Marianne held me I was hungry or needed to be changed and so I was always a bit cranky with her. Sorry!

I got to play a little bit with my cousin Claudia too, and that was really nice because the following week we stayed at her house in Copenhagen. She is a big girl and I hope in a few months I will be able to do all of the things that she can do!

Once again...Nikoline is a baby-sitter waiting to come of age! What a fun weekend it was to celebrate my Farmor!

For our last week in Denmark we went to Copenhagen. When we arrived we went to a birthday party for Morten (who is fondly nicknamed "Drunk Morten", "Computer Morten" and "Big Neck Morten" to distinguish him from "Military Morten") and we found out that he and Elsebeth are going to get married!

We also saw Kim and Jib who were visiting from Thailand and are also engaged.

It was also nice to see "Military Morten", who was very happy because he had just moved in to a new apartment with his girlfriend Lynette.

The next day we went to visit my Farfar's step-mother, Kis. She is 93 years old and she made me smile a lot.

Her daughter, Farfar's sister, came to meet me too. Hi, Annette!

After that we temporarily lost our camera so I sadly don't have pictures of meeting Far's friends Christian, Stig, Steffen and Soren. Sorry guys! But it was very nice to meet you! Three weeks in Denmark went by quickly and we were quickly on our way to Boston. I was excited to be reunited with my Nene and Pops. At their house, they have an excersaucer and I liked to "stand up" in it!

It was really fun to meet my cousin Molly for the first time. She is very attentive and played so nicely with me. She is going to be a big sister soon and I know she'll do a good job!

We went to watch my cousin Michael play baseball!

Auntie Meghan is so silly!

My cousin Sean got a baseball trophy...

while I enjoyed sucking on Auntie Meghan's hand. Did I mention that I'm teething now?

And of course I liked being with my favorite partner in crime.
To celebrate Father's Day (one day early) we went to Uncle Tim's parents' house. The weather wasn't warm enough for me to swim so I played with Auntie Meghan. Did I mention that she is so silly!

Far loved to swim in the pool with my cousins and Uncle Tim. When I get big I hope to have fun in the pool with them too!

While they were swimming, I also played with Pops.

Here is me and Far on his first Father's Day! It was a low-key day but it was nice; I gave him some new squash gear and a framed picture of me for his desk at work.

During that first week in Boston, we spent a lot of time at Auntie Meghan's house. She took me on my first outdoor swing ride!

Far played tug of war with my cousins and their friend! He is so strong that he managed to beat all 4 of them!

Then Auntie Christine and Uncle Kevin (soon to be Auntie Christine's husband!) came to visit for my Baptism. They were so nice and made me smile a lot.

Back at Auntie Meghan's again, I liked it when Michael held me. He is really good with babies.

Nene's best friend "Mrs. D" came from Dolylestown, PA to meet me.

We had a great chat.

Then it was time for my Baptism. Auntie Christine is my Godmother and Mom's cousin Reid is my Godfather.
Father Joe, who married Mom and Far, performed my Baptism at St. Augustine's in Andover where they had their wedding too.

I was blessed by my parents and Godparents.

I didn't cry at all! But that's OK...Mom cried enough for the both of us!

Reid lit my Baptismal candle.

They did a good job!

Three generations.
Nene and Pops were very proud.

Nene liked to show me off!

Here I am with Mom and her Godparents, Aunt Linda and Uncle Tom.

There was a big party for me at Aunt Nina and Uncle Jack's house. Lots of friends and family came to meet me. I got to see my friend Brady for the first time. He was born one month after me but I think he is bigger than I am! His daddy and my mom went to Syracuse together and our moms became long-distance friends during their pregnancies. It was a great occasion for everyone to finally meet (p.s. I do think Brady is very know, for a boy).

We ate lots of food and had a big cake - yummy!

For my party I decided to wear the same outfit as my Godfather...a basic white tee was very comfortable on a muggy summer day.

It was wonderful to see "Auntie" Brooke and "Uncle" Dave! I'm sorry that I was fussy every time you tried to hold me, Brooke. It wasn't you - it was me! And my mommy is sorry that she didn't get a picture of us together :(

Mom's cousin Jon is very funny...

and I liked Ben too, although he is SOOOO tall that I wonder if it is possible that he is actually my mom's cousin?
What a wonderful day that was. I will never forget it (because my mom won't let me!). The next day I needed to recover from the festivities a bit so Kevin and I were chillin' out...

and I was trying to steal Nene's attention away from her doggy, Belle, who was really jealous of me. I mean, who could blame her...I am WAY cuter than a dog!

I like my new Bumbo chair and my Tiffany's rattle - thank you to Joanna, Dave and Will for both.

We went out for a walk and some fishing with my cousins at the pond near Nene's house and my Far was being so silly...

but thankfully Uncle Tim was around to calm me down. Good thing he got in some practice with me before his next baby is born in November!

A few days after my Baptism, we started visiting some people we didn't get to see too much before. So we had lunch with Nene's cousin Patsy in Andover....

and I had a play date with Joanna's baby Will in Newton (get it..."Will & Grace" like the TV show!)...

and then we had dinner with Mom's Fun Factor friends from Syracuse, Marcie and Gina, who live in Brighton (sorry to Jess, Jess and Sarah that I didn't get to meet you this time!)...

The following night we went to South Boston for dinner with Kate...

and Julie!
After all these adventures, you can imagine how tired I became. Far thought that playing the piano would be therapeutic, and so my music career began.

The whole time we were in the US, the weather was not nearly as good as it should have been. Very chilly with lots of rain! One day the sun finally came out and we went to the beach with Aunt Nina...
and Uncle Jack.
Also, Aunt Judy and my cousin Max came along (sorry I don't have pictures with you!) and our cousins Elizabeth and Jake. Auntie Meghan, Michael, Sean, and Molly all came too and had fun at Nene's beach in Plymouth. The only problem was that maybe all of my adventures were a little too much to handle because I had a fever the whole day and did not feel like myself. I just wanted to be held and cuddled to sleep and I was generally very uncomfortable.

This made Mom and Far very nervous because I would have to go on two airplanes very soon! So they took me to the emergency room to make sure I didn't have an ear infection (because flying with an ear infection would be terrible!), and luckily I didn't. Maybe I didn't feel good because I was teething or maybe I was just having an off day. Good thing that I felt better the next day to celebrate the Fourth of July! I liked hanging out with Jake on America's birthday.

It was so nice to get so much time with Elizabeth (my middle name too!) because she is very special to my Mom.

We went to downtown Plymouth with Nene, Pops, Auntie Meghan and the gang, Elizabeth, Mark and Jake for the day. First we went on a cruise around Plymouth Harbor. It was a big paddle boat and was the first boat I have been on besides a ferry in Denmark.

We saw lots of interesting stuff, including Plymouth Rock (OK, let's be honest...Plymouth Rock is not actually that interesting. It is sort of like the "Little Mermaid" in Denmark: you think it will be a lot bigger than it is, and so it ends up a huge disappointment!).

After the cruise we ate seafood and shopped a little, and then we staked out a great spot on the lawn in front of the water so we could watch fireworks that night. We waited for hours and hours. It was a lovely evening, even if it did get a little chilly...

and then I saw my first fireworks!

It was sad to say goodbye to Nene and Pops the next day. I can't wait to see them again in October when I come back with Mom for Auntie Christine's wedding. Last Sunday we flew back to Kenya. I was mostly a good girl on the plane rides but I didn't sleep very much which made my parents very tired. I have spent this whole week being jet-lagged but I think my body is finally starting to adjust to being in this time zone now (my mom says: Hallelujah).

Thank you to Mom and Far for bringing me to Denmark and the US to meet so many people and see the places that I come from. It was a great trip. I'm sorry to all of the people I didn't get to meet in the US - like Uncle Mark, Aunt Carrie, my cousins Matthew and Nathan, Mom's friend Abbey in Texas, as well as her friends in New York, her Italy girlfriends (sorry we missed your wedding, Katie!), and all of the aunts and uncles and cousins that aren't in the Boston area. Did you know that I come from such a big family?! I am hoping that when I go back to the US in October I will get to see everyone I missed this time around.

And now that we are back...this week I had a check up with my doctor and got my last round of vaccinations (ouch!) until I am 1 year old. We learned that I am 62.5 cm/24.6 in long (50th percentile) and I weigh 6 kg/13.2 lbs (25th percentile). The doctor was a little bit worried about some small rashes on my skin where I had gotten bug bites, so yesterday I saw a dermatologist (that is a big word for a baby!) and she said that it was normal eczema and was nothing to worry about.

Far's aunt and uncle, Kitte and Gert, have been visiting us all week and I have had a lot of fun with them. Their granddaughter is Claudia who is just 5 months older than I am and so they know just how to play with me. It is nice to have them here!

I hope you liked this detailed update of our vacation. In 5 weeks I visited 3 countries (including Germany) and was held by probably around 100 different people (at least!). I'm tired just thinking about it and from writing this blog so I will take a nap right now! And I will let Mom resume her regularly scheduled blogging about me and our life here in Kenya now that you are all caught up. Phew.

Love, GEW