Sunday, August 30, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
but she cannot "eat it too" until she is one year old!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
- my brother Mark's sons: Matthew and Nathan, and
- my sister Meghan's kids: Michael, Sean, Molly and Baby "X Factor" due in November.
- 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!
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
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.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
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.