Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 30, 2009 - Yummy

Grace found her feet a few days after she turned 4 months old, one day before we returned to Nairobi from the US. Since then she is chomping on her toes any chance she gets (sometimes with socks on, preferably without them though!). I think today, however, is one of the only times, if not the first time, that I have gotten it on camera.
She also has started to take an interest in her clothes. We may have a fashionista on our hands.
Cute baby!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

August 27, 2009 - Drought Update & FEED

For an update on the drought in Kenya, please check here: The situation is not good :(

Also, Bergdorf Goodman is exclusively selling a "FEED 2 Kenya" bag made by Kenyan women and deaf Kenyans; a portion of the proceeds of each bag sold goes to Kristoffer's School Feeding Programme. The bag is pretty pricey ($195) given that it costs US$21 to feed one school child in Kenya for 190 school days. However, every little bit helps and it is a cool bag. Jennifer Aniston was recently sporting one. Thanks to Victoria for the heads up - we didn't even know about this!


August 27, 2009 - We'll miss you, Bibi and Jen!

Dear Bibi and Jen,

Thank you for coming to Kenya to visit me. It was really fun to play with you and I especially loved all of the songs you sang to me. I know it was a big trip for you to come all the way here, and I can't tell you how much it meant to me and my family. You are very special and we will miss you very much.

Love always, Grace

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

August 26, 2009 - She can have her cake...

but she cannot "eat it too" until she is one year old!

Ok, ok, maybe we are bit over the top but especially because we have so many visitors (Jean, Jen and Christian!) we decided to celebrate Grace's half birthday with chocolate cake for all of us. Of course Grace isn't old enough to eat chocolate cake so we had to eat her portion ourselves, but we feel she is well prepared to take the next step in six more months. We sang her some half birthday songs, took lots of pictures and video, and even let Grace stay up 20 minutes past her bedtime.

Note: we only put half of a candle on the cake. She can blow out the full one in February :)

What a day!

August 26, 2009 - A Very Merry Half-Birthday!

Today Grace is 6-months old. This is VERY hard for me to believe, even though I have spent nearly every moment of the last 6-months with her: feeding her, changing her, soothing her, playing with her, watching her grow.

When Grace was newborn, below at 8 days old, we gave her a binky and it seemed to take up her entire face!

Today, at 6 months old, the proportions are a bit more accurate:

Grace will go to the doctor for her 6-month check up next week, so I will be able to report all of her stats at that time. For now we keep working on sleeping at night - she is doing pretty well with 7 hour (approx) stretches before waking up, and not feeding until she reaches the 9 hour mark. We have introduced some more foods but Grace has been terribly constipated the last few days: often in pain and pushing really hard! So I started her on pears, which I've read can help, and found dried prunes at a health food store this morning. I will work on liquifying them and giving them to her to see if that helps...although I feel bad about making her eat prunes! She doesn't know that they are gross, right?

Grace enjoyed her photo shoot this morning because she was able to play with the sign and repeatedly try to eat it:

The best picture of the day, by far:

Six months into parenthood we remain so, so grateful for and in love with this healthy, funny, sweet, beautiful girl.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August 25, 2009 - Kenya's National Census II

Since it is almost 7:30 in the morning and we still have power, I will take this opportunity to share a few more funny parts of the census last night that I forgot to write about in my haste to blog so quickly.

First, there was a book that the census guy used to look up the correct codes for the various answers we might have given him. It was completely understandable to me when he had to look up the code for Danish and American when he asked our nationalities. What surprised me was when Ida confirmed that she was Kenyan he still had to look up the code for that!! I mean, most of the people he is surveying will be Kenyan so wouldn't he know that code by heart?!

Next, the census guy must have been given instructions to ask each question about every person in the household, which certainly makes sense for all the adults! But when he kept me asking me every question about Grace, it was all I could do not to start cracking jokes. And let me tell you, he took his job his very seriously and I do not imagine that we had the same sense of humor. But come on! After asking for her birth date (February 26, 2009) and her birth place (Nairobi), he asked me what date did Grace first enter the country. He also asked me what language does she speak (is there a code for speaking "baby"?) and what is the highest level of education she has obtained (ummm...she can sit up on her that a level of education?). Even I could understand that Ida kept telling him in Swahili: she is just a baby!

Finally, I confirmed that my highest level of education is a Master's degree. Then he asked me what work I do currently. The conversation when something like this...

Me: I am currently unemployed.
Him: Well, when you did work what did you do?
Me: I was an educator.
Him: looks in his book for the right code.
Him: How many hours do you work every week?
Me: I am currently unemployed.
Him: But what kind of private work do you do? How many hours?
Me: None. I do not have a job except that I am a mother. I take care of my baby, all day everyday.
Him: now furiously flips through the book because he doesn't know how to code someone who has a master's degree but is unemployed; there was no code for "stay at home mom".

Ten hours later, I am still laughing about and pondering the whole thing. I intend to have a conversation about the experience with Ida this morning to find out if it was an interesting experience for her too or if it was just the norm.

Today has been declared a public holiday so that people will be home and the census can be properly conducted. The UN doesn't take the holiday so Kristoffer is already at work...bummer! Ida and Charles both opted to take a Friday off for a long weekend instead of getting today off. Christian arrived from Copenhagen safely and I will take him on a tour of the UN today.

Monday, August 24, 2009

August 24, 2009 - Kenya's National Census

I thought about naming this blog: Most Kenyan Experience to Date...but then I thought that might be a slight exaggeration, although not by much.

Tonight through Wednesday the Government of Kenya is conducting its national census by going door-to-door to every household in the country. Remember when I wrote yesterday that sometimes it is easy to forget that you are in Kenya? Well let me clarify that by saying this: participating in the national census is the most sure-fire way to remember where you are.

Kristoffer had gone to the airport earlier tonight to pick up his friend Christian who will be visiting for the next month, and so Grace and I home were home alone, with Ida in her quarters too. I thought about not answering the door when they came a-knockin', because there are security concerns about people posing as census officials to rob others, etc. But then I saw who it was exactly that came to call: 2 armed militia, 2 regular security guards, our caretaker (who I don't trust, but definitely know), and 2 government guys actually doing data entry for the census. So instead of letting them into my house with my sleeping baby, we all sat outside on the couch on our front patio or stood in our driveway for the 30-minute intake. And how was this data collected? With one really large notebook (granted, pre-printed with questions and columns for coding), 1 pencil, 1 eraser, and 1 book with all of the necessary codes. Our census guy was very nice (only one guy spoke, the other guy was there for "quality control" I think), especially given how tedious his work is. The census is estimated to take 30 minutes per household, which I can confirm almost to the minute. I swear I am not making this up!

So I answered questions about Kristoffer, Grace and me, and Ida answered questions about herself. At one point one of the militia - a female, which is rare! - demanded that Ida bring her a glass of water. It was really strange. And either the census guy must be told to conduct the census in English since that is the official language of the country (Swahili is the national language) OR he was doing so because I am not Kenyan, but the guy kept asking questions in English. Maybe Ida didn't want me to know what her answers were because she kept answering in Swahili and asking him questions in Swahili, and the guy kept responding in English. He seemed a bit irritated that she wasn't speaking English too. I also found it interesting that he knew some of her answers to the questions before she even told him: based on her last name he told her what tribe she was and where she was born!

As I said, 30 minutes later they leave and I am furiously writing this blog before I forget all the details and because, of course, we will not have any electricity tomorrow. I can't believe this was a truly, truly Kenyan experience and Kristoffer missed the whole thing! Sheesh!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

August 23, 2009 - P.S.

Kristoffer is a little bit sad that when I posted the pictures of Grace today I neglected to post his favorite picture from the "baby in a basket" series. So, here you go:


August 23, 2009 - Life Happens

Kristoffer asked me the other day, in all seriousness, "Do you think Kenya is going to completely fall apart or just barely make it?" I think this is a question that most people in Kenya are thinking on a regular basis, but maybe never actually ask aloud. Sadly, I don't know the answer. I am no longer naive enough to just believe in the best for and of Kenya, because that is not reality here. But I like to think that I am not so cynical now that I see no hope at all. I suppose I am somewhere in between. The country is drowning in political or environmental crisis after political or environmental crisis, over and over again. I had lunch with two American friends the other day and one of them said, "Whenever we are really frustrated with the situation we say we are having "A Kenya Moment" because we are so disappointed that Kenya never lives up to what it actually can and should be." I can completely identify with that. The other friend says when she is really frustrated she reminds herself, "TIA - This Is Africa!" Of course it is almost hard to remember that you're in Africa when you are having lunch at a lovely cafe with other Americans, but then you go home and have no electricity and your landlord hasn't returned your signed lease in three months and your housekeeper is inexplicitly doing a full wash cycle for two articles of clothing once again. Then you remember. Life happens, and this is Life in Nairobi.

It's a good thing we have a beautiful nearly-6-month old baby to buoy our spirits. Despite having a completely unpredictable sleep schedule at night (a couple good nights are followed by a couple more bad nights...but we are staying consistent and will not give up! she will sleep through the night one day!), she is doing well with solid foods. Having now mastered carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans (which make her throw up every time), and a few different kinds of cereals (rice, oat with banana, apple or pear), she will next try pureed squash, apples, bananas and peas in the next two weeks. I went on a "make baby food" frenzy this weekend and we are stocked for awhile. Grace's personality is blossoming which, when she is not overtired, is often so-happy-that-she-can't-stop-belly-laughing or at the very least very-pleasant-and-content. In fact, Kristoffer have a nickname that we often call Grace: the BL, or the Belly Laugher, because she just loves, loves, loves to laugh. She is learning new ways to play these days and is almost always sitting up. Long gone are the days when I could leave her on her play mat with one rattle for 30 minutes while I blog and email; she does play well by herself for periods of time but definitely craves stimulation and attention a lot!

My time is also filling up nicely. I started tutoring the 5th grade boy across the street this week; three afternoons a week we do his homework together and work on organizational and planning skills. We either meet in my living room or his bedroom, so Ida watches Grace (who is usually napping for at least some of that time in the afternoon). We feel this is a solid baby step to leave her with Ida (trust issues, trust issues) for small amounts of time each day and the week went well. I also realized how much I miss teaching when I am working with Ben, and the small amount of money I'm making doesn't hurt either. My mom's group still meets once a week and I am really starting to feel like some of the women are actually my friends! My book club will be starting up again in September, and hopefully some new and enthusiastic members will keep it alive this year (finally). I am also regularly meeting up with a few American ladies who have or are expecting babies. Of course, just when all of this gets settled into a good rhythm for me and Grace, we will be jet-setting back to Boston on the first of October for a month-long visit in honor of my sister Christine's wedding. November in Nairobi will quickly lead to much-of-December in Denmark! And Grace will then be 10 months old. Seriously, where does all of this time go?!

Here are a few shots of the BL from this weekend. We are hoping the weather will clear soon so we can enjoy some time outside with her!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

August 19, 2009 - Cousins!

Grace is a lucky little girl to have so many cousins.

On my side of the family she has -
  • my brother Mark's sons: Matthew and Nathan, and
  • my sister Meghan's kids: Michael, Sean, Molly and Baby "X Factor" due in November.
On Kristoffer's side of the family she has -
  • Kristoffer's brother Rasmus' daughters: Nikoline and Josefine,
  • his step-sister Marianne's kids: Simone and Martin, and
  • we are proud to announce that as of yesterday (August 18th) at 7:08 pm (time in Germany), Leander Tommy Maximus Schmidt was born to Kristoffer's step-brother Tommy and his wife Mirja. Leander came 10 days late and was not that easy to deliver but we think everyone is OK and are awaiting more details.
  • Kristoffer's step-sister Tina and her almost-husband Thomas are expecting Grace's 12th cousin, a little boy, in January!
What a lucky girl!

Welcome to the family, Leander. We hope you are nice to your mommy and sleep a lot so that she can recover well.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

August 18, 2009 - Good News/Bad News

The good news is that Grace is now rolling over regularly.

The bad news is that she started rolling over regularly during the night last night and after rolling from her back to her belly she would wake up, panic, and scream. And then repeat the whole thing again. There was, therefore, not a lot of sleeping in our house from 11pm to 5am this morning. Sheesh!

A bit more of good news is that it is 12pm on a Tuesday and despite being scheduled for no electricity our generator is running. I'll be interested to see how long it lasts!


Monday, August 17, 2009

August 17, 2009 - Date Night

On Saturday night, Kristoffer and I went out on our first date since Grace came along. The one thing we have really, really been itching to do without Grace is see "Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince". We are still having some childcare issues with Ida (long story short, we really just don't trust her with Grace) but Jean and Jen are still visiting us and were happy to give us a night out. No trust issues there.

The first challenge was that we were so tired and staying awake for a long movie that starts at 9pm (when we are usually asleep - no joke!) was not a given. But we persevered and went to the show after we did Grace's bedtime routine and she was asleep without needing to eat for several hours. Grace is still not sleeping through the night so we weren't exactly sure how it would go, but she had at least been doing one long stretch from 7ish to 12ish so we figured it was a good time to test to the waters. And test we did...

We loved the movie, despite how much was left out of the book, and when we got home at 11:40 Grace was still asleep and had not made a peep while we were gone. Even though it wasn't a date where we were talking to each other a lot, we really enjoyed getting out for a bit. The bad news out of all of this was that Grace woke up ten minutes after we got home and proceeded to have possibly the worst night of sleep in her life. She was inexplicably wide awake and screaming from 4 am to 7:30 am! Who does that?!

Needless to say the process of teaching Grace to sleep through the night is NOT an easy one and we are pretty exhausted, but last night she started taking the binky again after about a 5-week binky vacation and that lead to a much better night for everyone. Here's hoping tonight shows more progress as well.

Thank you to Jean and Jen!


Friday, August 14, 2009

August 14, 2009 - She's Got Game

Grace turned 24 weeks old yesterday when I turned 29 years! Now that she can sit up like a big girl, she can finally start to play with and appreciate her baby basketball game that my friend Victoria gave her in utero. Granted, she is not that good at actually making a basket and prefers to try to eat the hoop...but yesterday it provided a lot of enjoyment for her to play with. Thank you, Victoria! And thank you Mark, Katherine, and Brady for Grace's super cute Ralph Lauren dress. Her Far loves it when she wears something other than pink!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

August 12, 2009 - More Firsts

Even though Grace had a terrible, terrible night last night (as in "sleep training" failed and after an initial 4 hours of sleep she was mostly awake and screaming for the rest of the night) today she had two more firsts.

She used a sippy cup for the first time to drink a little water...

and she used her jumper for the first time...

She liked both very much and I am happy for new things to amuse her - especially tomorrow when we will have no power and, therefore, cannot play any music!

p.s. The gas smell went away and our stove is working properly. It appears that my venting blog to the government helped the situation.

August 12, 2009 - Dear Government of Kenya...

I have a bone to pick with you.

Yesterday we realized that our gas cylinder (or canister?) that we use for cooking on our gas stove was empty. So I sent my driver to exchange it and buy a full one. We have done this before - it takes approximately 5 minutes and is no big deal. Until yesterday.

You see, there is a "regulator" that we fasten to the top of the cylinder to turn the gas on/off and adjust its pressure, and apparently you, dear government, mandated that a brand new type of regulator be used for a brand new type of cylinder. The old cylinders have been taken off the market and the old regulators no longer work. Sigh. So what do I have to do? I have to spend almost $20 on a new regulator - and you will not allow for any exchange or discount when old regulators are turned in.

Why did you do this? Well, the only reason I can think of is to make money of off your poor and starving citizens (ok, and all of your not-poor-or-starving expats in residence too). And what will you use this money for? One can only guess it will go into the pockets of your Members of Parliament (MPs) - you know, the ones who don't pay taxes on their fancy houses, cars, vacations, and entertainment spending. You aren't sure which MPs I am talking about? Well, they are probably the same ones who helped create the food shortage in this country and who are trying to get out of any kind of trial (here or in the Hague) for their crimes in funding and organizing the post-election violence. I know you know who I am talking about here.

So yes, thank you, wise government, for robbing me of my 1000 Kenyan shillings for a regulator that has very little pressure and, therefore, doesn't allow for my stove to work properly and leaves my house smelling of gas. You know, because that is really healthy for my 5-month old daughter to inhale.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August 11, 2009 - Drought in Kenya

All my life I have heard about drought and famines in Africa. Now I am in the middle of one in Kenya. So how bad is it? Well it is not the worst level of drought on our scale, but it is actually very, very bad. The long rains failed in most of the country, only one district received the expected rainfall and there is no agriculture in that district so eventually that water will just be washed out into the Indian Ocean.

The drought has hit the arid lands very hard. There is no pasture, no water, and most pastoralists have moved their animals to the hills around Mount Kenya in search for some little grass. Others have lost many if not all of their animals, which constituted their whole livelihood. Today I was on the other side of Nairobi just a few minutes from the city. During my little trip I randomly saw 15 dead cows lying on a field next to the road. I think they had been dead for about 2-3 days. This never used to happen within Nairobi and a Kenyan I was with said he had never experienced the land around Nairobi so dry.

In the semi-arid lands where some can crops can grow if the rain is consistent throughout the rain season people are suffering. WFP is giving out food in these places. Kenya has yet to invest in irrigation schemes in these areas and the people have no harvest this time around. Millions of people live in these lands.

In Central Kenya the harvest has been very poor. My colleague tells me that Central normally supplies a good part of the semi-arid lands with maize, but there are no trucks with maize coming from Central to semi-arid districts right now. Prices of food are shooting up because of it, so even in Central people are hungry. Many of my colleagues are from that region and they have to buy food for their families and extended families there.

In the Western part of Kenya, also known as “the bread basket” of Kenya, where they normally get rains from Lake Victoria and where the soil is old, fertile, volcanic, black soil they do have food, but the yield has been low. Our housekeeper, Ida, reports that from her home in Western people are hungry, which is unheard of in that part of the country.

The government reportedly sold some of its grain reserve to a neighboring country before the drought really hit and has not been able to purchase sufficient food from South Africa to have enough food for all Kenyans.

75% of Kenya’s electricity comes from hydropower. The lack of rains has forced the power company to shut down most of the main hydropower stations. The country is now relying on very expensive and insufficient diesel generators. The power in Kenya is now heavily rationed. We don’t have power during the day on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and it is worse in other parts of the city. Many companies have closed temporally because of this and electricity has more than doubled in price.

Water in Nairobi is a huge problem. There is piped water in Nairobi but they have turned it off completely as the water reservoirs are running very low. Lisa and I have a private borehole where we live and are not affected. Our housekeeper, Ida, has to walk 3 km to the nearest borehole from where she lives. People are selling and transporting water all over town. Water is a hot commodity these days. Do I have to mention that the price of water has exploded?

There are still two months to the short rain season. It can only get worse. That is how bad it is to have a drought in Kenya right now.


August 11, 2009 - Go (away) Orange!

Grace started eating carrots this morning...and, as you can see below, it was not her favorite thing ever. Can you believe it - she doesn't like an ORANGE food (a child of mine!). Well, who knows if I made the puree too thick or if she was too full of milk already or if the taste was too strong, but she will be eating carrots for the next few mornings to see if they grow on her. She is going to be a vegetarian so if she wants to eat in this house she better get to like carrots.

Anyway, we've now learned some of the faces that Graces makes when she doesn't like something:

We had a really great mom's group at our house today. The other babies are all so different from each other and all so cute. Life for this little girl, despite the orange, is going well.


Monday, August 10, 2009

August 10, 2009 - Progress

Grace's sleep schedule is not quite "there" yet, but we are working on it. She goes to bed without crying or any other sleep aid (music, rocking, nightlight), but she still wakes up pretty often. She usually goes back to sleep within 10 minutes with some comfort (no picking up or feeding) but occasionally she screams for an extended period of time. Usually at that point I will feed her, figuring that if she wasn't hungry she would go back to sleep like the other times. We are trying to get to at least 8 hours before she eats (so sometime between 3 and 5 am), and it seems to work...although we really have no idea what time she'll be up in the morning after that feeding. We are still settling in to a nap/sleep schedule (we started bed time between 8:30 and 9 but for the last 2 nights she has been so tired that she has gone to sleep at 7), but Grace does communicate well and we are following her lead.

In the feeding department, Grace has been eating two meals a day of rice cereal (with breast milk) for the last few days and tomorrow she will eat pureed carrots (also with breast milk) for breakfast for the first time. I am thinking that my next career might be baby food chef, assuming Grace likes it. I really liked making food for her and look forward to pureeing other vegetables and fruit in the future.

Another type of progress we've made in the last week is that Kristoffer is now participating in feeding Grace. He is much better than I am at getting her to eat without holding the spoon or putting fingers in her mouth (contrary to the 2nd picture below), and I think they both like having something new that they are doing together.

Because of the drought in Kenya we have scheduled power outages every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (all day!). This continues to be very frustrating since we pay to live on a compound with a generator and our landlord will not turn the generator on until 5 pm. While we have no power tomorrow, I will be hosting my first "mom's group" at our house because our usual cafe is closed for renovation. I am looking forward to having some moms and babies over for the afternoon.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

August 8, 2009 - Destined to be Best Friends?

This blog is dedicated to my mother. I have been trying to email her and some family funny email, but for some reason most people can't open the attachment so I am posting it on the blog instead.

For those of you who don't know her, my mom is NOT a fan of Hillary Clinton. Clinton, as I'm sure you know from the news, has been in Africa this week and for two of those days she was in Kenya. There was a picture in the New York Times this week that reminded me so much of my mom in Kenya that I just wonder if there isn't hope for my mom and Hillary to be good friends.

Take a look....

Mom with the Masai (April 2009)

Hillary with the Masai (July 2009)


Friday, August 7, 2009

August 7, 2009 - Grace for President

Jean (aka "Bibi") and Jen came from New York to visit us in Kenya. Grace was very lucky and happy to finally get to meet them and also to get several nice gifts from them.

My personal favorite of the gifts she got is a book called:

It is the story of a girl who dares to ask "Where are the girls?!" when her teacher puts up a poster of all the American presidents. You can imagine the school election that follows as Grace learns about how one gets to be president. You can also imagine the outcome of that school election. It is a GREAT book, especially for our Grace (when she becomes president I am sure there will be some scandal about how she wasn't born in the USA but I do have documentation to prove that she is eligible.).

She also got a NYC police car and some NYC tshirts, as well as a "future freshman at Harvard" onesie (although, like me, she might go to Syracuse first):

And while Grace continues to do well eating rice cereal and sleeping much more than she used to, the big news of the day is that Grace can now sit up by herself! She has been able to do it for about 5-10 seconds for a little while now, but today she did it for 4 minutes and then 5 minutes and 9 and 10 minutes! Our neighbor, Mae, was over to play with Grace and was a good "spotter" as Grace was sitting up longer and longer. I just can't believe: yesterday she couldn't do it and today she can! This will be an especially useful skill (sitting up!) when our Grace becomes president for sure.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

August 5, 2009 - Note to Self

Do not, I repeat, do not breast-feed the baby shortly before serving rice cereal for dinner (for the 2nd time) because the baby will not be interested in eating it at all, even though the books you've read told you not to feed the baby on an empty stomach the first several times. Rather, listen to friends and other moms you know who feed their babies on empty stomachs and then top them off with breast milk AFTER they've eaten.

Lesson learned: Grace took a few bites of her food tonight and then gave the signals: pushing the spoon away, tight lips, looking in the other direction. I congratulated her and didn't push the issue. Tomorrow night, however, she will (as she did the first night) eat her rice cereal on an empty stomach and then get filled up with breast milk before she goes to sleep for the night.

The good news is that Grace napped today from 10am - 11am and then again from 3:30 to 4:50. I put her down to sleep tonight after her bed time routine and she made a few peeps but no crying. She is sound asleep now (15 minutes later). We feel like our life has completely changed in just 3 days!

Kristoffer came home from work today sick with potential salmonella. Yuck. We hope he is better tomorrow but if not he will go to the UN clinic. The first UN staff person here came down with the H1N1 virus in Nairobi so now everyone is on alert. WFP has ordered tamiflu for each child of a WFP staff person - which means that, God forbid, if Grace gets H1N1 she has medicine just for her. Not sure if they have ordered it for staff and spouses though! Anyway, his symptoms are of the stomach-problem variety so hopefully it was just some bad food he ate a government office yesterday (that happened to me once before) and nothing more.

And even though he isn't feeling great he is leaving in a few minutes to go pick up Jean and Jen at the airport!


August 5, 2009 - Barcelona

(note: I've been writing this blog/uploading pictures since Monday morning!)

We arrived back in Kenya very late on Sunday (or early on Monday in Kristoffer's case) after a wonderful week in Barcelona with Kirsten and Hans. The trip back alone with Grace for me was long and tiring, but was at least a little bit smoother than our trip there. We are in Nairobi now for two months with visitors to look forward to (Jean and Jen come on Wednesday! Christian in September!) and no travel until October.

Kristoffer had four good days of a management workshop (okay, maybe 3 good days and 1 average day) and Kirsten, Hans, Grace and I found lots to do when he was at work. But we also saved lots of good stuff for the evenings, and the three days when he wasn't working were certainly action-packed. We took something like 500 pictures during the week, but here is how to best summarize our week in Barcelona:

1. Art & Architecture

Outside the Miro museum

My good friend Pablo:

An old fashioned food market:

Some of the work of Antoni Gaudi, who I totally fell in love with. He was a brilliant architect:

His still unfinished church, the Sagrada Familia, was maybe my favorite thing that we saw. It will be completely in 2040 so maybe we will be taking Grace to Mass there for her 31st birthday. It was very cool to see the process of building a cathedral and check out the beautiful stained glass windows:

2. Water

This is one of the Olympic pools - the far pool was for the diving competition:

This was Grace's 2nd time at the beach. Her first time was in Plymouth but she was sick that day and didn't really enjoy it too much. She liked to look at the water with Farmor:

But when a wave came too fast she got a little scared:

Hans took some beautiful pictures of the sun setting over the harbor:

This was one of the coolest things! A few times at the Montjuic Park and fountain they have a water-music-lights show. The water was incredible. We loved it - even Grace's attention was captured:

This was Grace's first time drinking water...she LOVED it and she LOVES water bottles even more now:

This was the day after when she drank water again. She couldn't get was very cute:

3. Eating

Here are some beautiful cherries that we ate from the old fashioned market:

As usual for her, Grace ate in all kinds of places, including this sidewalk bench, inside the Barcelona cathedral, outside and inside the Miro museum (first time we went there it was closing!), inside the Picasso Museum, on the beach, etc:

We didn't eat here, but I'm sure the food and sangria would have been excellent:

Needless to say, there was a LOT of ice cream eating throughout our week. Luckily for me, Hans likes ice cream as much as I do!

There was a Dunkin Donuts in Barcelona! I have never seen one outside of New England so this was a shock (and a joy I might add) for me!

I bought Kirsten and Hans our favorite donut - the Boston Creme - and some coolattas for their first DD experience (ok, I bought some munchkins too)!

4. Grace - as usual

Finally, with a little help from her father Grace took her first picture with our digital camera inside one of the Gaudi museums. Not too bad for a baby:

Thank you to Kirsten and Hans for coming on vacation with us. Grace obviously loved all the time she got to spend with you (me and Kristoffer too!). We look forward to seeing you again for Christmas!