Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 29, 2009 - Home to Machakos part 2

Yesterday we took a drive to visit Charles and his family in their village in the district of Machakos. The general location is a little over an hour from Nairobi, but the non-paved road to Charles' specific land makes it closer to 2 hours. Kristoffer described a lot of his first visit to Machakos so I will try not to be too repetitive, but there were definitely some strong impressions and funny stories from our day. First of all, the area is SO beautiful. They have recently been blessed with lots of rain - including all day yesterday - so our drive up Charles' mountain gave us a GREEN view of successfully growing crops.

This is the main building of Charles' homestead; it has a sitting room and two small rooms for his mother and sister. There is also a small kitchen building, and a building with a room for Charles and his wife. Then there is a building for his uncle close by, a latrine down the mountain, and their new building.

When we arrived, Grace met Emmanuel and Elsie for the first time.

They had made signs to welcome us.

Charles' wife Janet is possibly the sweetest women I've met in Kenya. They are not extremely poor by Kenyan standards, but live very simply compared to our lifestyle (no electricity, no plumbing) and were still extremely generous and hospitable to us. They bought 2 liters of Coca Cola and also of bottled water for us, which is a luxury they don't normally spend on. When Janet was giving me a tour of their land (4 small buildings) she showed me their 11 chickens ("kuku" in Swahili) and among them she showed me "your kuku" - the one Charles' mother had picked out just for ME. She asked if we wanted to take it home alive or if they should slaughter it for us first. I went with Plan B because what do I know about slaughtering a chicken?! This is a great honor that they would sacrifice one of their chickens for me - their chickens give them eggs and they eat them every now and again. By the time we were leaving 3 hours later, though, the chicken hadn't been slaughtered yet so Kristoffer said they could wait until next time we go back. I was secretly so relieved because I had a scary vision of trying to de-feather the chicken in our kitchen at home. Yikes! We did manage to come home with 2 dozen fresh eggs. They were so generous.

Another funny moment with Janet when the two of us were sitting alone with Grace and their baby Elsie (I thought her name was Hezrah before because of the way they speak that is what it sounds like...but it turns out to definitely be Elsie, which is a very cute name). She told me that she liked my hair and had never seen anything like it, and asked if she could touch it. I said yes and she spent the next few minutes just holding and rubbing and touching my hair! Then she said, "and there is so much WHITE!" Gee, thanks...I really needed a reminder that my hair is turning white! She also said, "it is funny how it goes like this (and made a swirling motion with her fingers to indicate my curls)". I told her they are called "curls" and she kept saying "coils". It was so funny and sweet. We discovered that Janet is just 4 months older than me.

Charles' son Emmanuel is 4 years old. We brought him some coloring and alphabet books with colored pencils and crayons and they said he was very happy, but he wouldn't say anything or crack a smile. Finally a little while before we were leaving I started to play "hide and seek" and "tag" with him and I ended up getting him to laugh and smile and play with me. He then took my hand and walked around with me and even let me hug him. When it was time for us to go he was crying loudly as we walked down the mountain to the car. So sweet. Janet said that he and I are now friends for life.

Me and my friend Emmanuel.
Janet and Grace.
The baby Elsie is just 4 months old. I have to say that I am a little worried about her. Kenyans don't really know how to breastfeed properly, so Elsie only nurses 2 or 3 times a day and isn't eating anything else. By comparison, Grace was still nursing every 2-3 hours until she was over 5 months old, and even know she still nurses about 5 times a day in addition to eating 3 meals and some snacks. Elsie doesn't look underweight, but she still sleeps almost the whole day (about 20 hours) and they said she isn't in the best of health. We gave Charles the morning off of work on Monday to take her to the hospital to be checked by a proper doctor.

Trying to get the babies to socialize.
The beautiful thing about children (babies) is that they don't see color or care about race. That is something that is taught to them. They just know kindness and friendship.
I also met Charles' mother (called "Mama Mze", and she is feeling better we were told), his uncle and his nephew who will be a senior in high school next year and is a really nice young man. We learned that Charles' family is very religious - they prayed when we arrived and before we ate. Grace ate ugali for the first time and definitely liked it!

Grace liked Charles' mother!

Before we came back to Nairobi we went into the town with Charles and gave him an early Christmas gift: a 3,200 liter water tank which he can use to collect rain for irrigation and other purposes. It was almost $200 but is a very good gift, especially for his wife and mother who usually walk up and down the mountain to collect water. We hope this will make their life a bit easier, especially when Charles is in Nairobi with us. If only we could have stayed to see them haul this enormous tank up the mountain to Charles' land!

Especially because I rarely get out of Nairobi and see the "real Kenya" I think it was an important trip for us to make. There was a lot of talk of his house project (almost finished, see below) and their crops and the weather. It was also interesting because there was a big funeral in the village yesterday for a very important man in the village; Charles said there had never been so many cars on the "road" going up to his land. We will go back to visit them again in February with Kristoffer's mom and Hans. It is really nice to feel positively connected to Kenyans; Janet says we are family now.

This is the new building which will have a sitting room, a visitor's room and a new room for Charles and his wife. Charles' nephew will move into the room Charles has now. You can see from the last pictures I posted that they have made progress on this building and it just needs concrete on the inside now. It was definitely bigger than I expected to be.
It was a great day for all of us!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

November 26, 2009 - Thankful

Dear Grace Elizabeth,

Today you are nine months old and I don’t think it is a coincidence that it is also Thanksgiving. When I look at you right now, playing beside me, the list of things for which I am thankful could go on forever. I am thankful that…
  • You are healthy.
  • You are happy.
  • You look like your Far so that every time I see you I am reminded of how much we love each other.
  • You think most things I say and do are extremely funny. It is very good for my ego.
  • You have an indelible and infectious laugh that never fails to make us smile.
  • You only woke up twice during the night last night, as opposed to 5 times like the night before.
  • Lately, you crinkle your nose and breath fast when you’re really happy.
  • You give me kisses and dig your head into the crook of my neck to give me snuggly hugs.
  • Your first word was/is “Mama”.
  • You are so ticklish.
  • You love hummus.
  • You have the biggest, biggest smile every time Far comes home from work and you make eye contact with him for the first time.
  • You bop your head and tap your foot when listening to music.
  • You love to read books.
  • You can wave.
  • You nicely give me whatever you are holding when I ask you for it.
  • You are a good traveler (this is key for our lifestyle!).
  • You “talk” so much. I wonder who you got that from?
  • Even though you are not a great sleeper, you do know and love your bedtime routine.
  • On the weekends, Far lets me sleep in as long as I can/want and has quiet time alone with you.
  • You flap your arms in happiness – several people have commented that you might fly before you crawl or walk!
  • Even though you can definitely move around, you aren’t quite properly crawling, because I know that once you start I won’t get to sit down for approximately the next 18 years!
  • I have the luxury of being able to chose not to work for the time being so that I can spend every day with you: teaching you and watching you grow and change and being with you for all of your “firsts”.
  • You are beautiful and clever and funny.
  • You reciprocate our unconditional love for you.
  • We have a large, wonderful family and many dear friends in at least 5 different countries who are supportive of our life and who love you very much (in some cases when they haven’t even met you yet!).
Living in a country where life is truly a struggle for the majority of the people, I am extremely aware and grateful that my daily life with you and Far is always full of love, even at its toughest moments. In fact, gratitude is a very small word to explain the very big feeling I have.

Happy Nine Months of Life and Happy Thanksgiving to you, my sweet little girl.
Love always,

p.s. I am also very thankful that 43 years ago today your Nene and Pops got married. They are great role models, as husband and wife and as parents. Happy Anniversary to my Mom and Dad!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

November 24, 2009 - At THAT Age

One day last week while Grace and I were out and about running some errands, Charles told me that he spoke to his wife on the phone and she told him that his mother was sick. I asked him what was wrong and he told me something that I didn't understand, but I told him I was sorry she was sick and that I hope that she will feel better soon. Then he says to me:

"Well, you know, at THAT age there's not much you can do."

I know that Charles is 38 so I was thinking that maybe his mother is around 60, which I don't consider to be very old. But when he made that statement, I started thinking she was 85 or 90! So I asked him her age; he thought about it and said, "Over 50!" I told him that where we come from that is not very old, to which he replied, "She was born in 1952 so she is 57."

Of course I knew that the life expectancy in Kenya would be lower than in the US or Europe, but I've never actually known what it really is. So, now I know that (according to the CIA World Factbook) the life expectancy rate for the total Kenyan population is, in fact, 57.86 years (slightly lower for men, slightly higher for women). Women here often look much older than they are because their life is hard and they work really hard from a young age doing a lot of physical labor (unlike their lazy counterparts, in my opinion). Our housekeeper Jonipher looks about 65 I think and she is 47 I believe. So, I suppose it is understandable why Charles thinks his mother is so old at THAT age!

For a bit more about Charles, here are some of the pictures that Kristoffer took of his family when he visited Machakos early in October (and you can see that his mother definitely looks older than 57):

Charles, his wife Janet, his mother, his sister, his niece, his uncle, his nephew, and his son in front (from left to right)
Charles, his wife, his son and daughter (daughter is under all those blankets - she is now almost 4 months old!)
Charles' mother and son (he sleeps with her every night)
The house Charles is building. He is VERY proud of such a strong door and windows and the house will a have a toilet inside, which is a pretty big deal. He is almost finished now after working on it for 2 years.
Kristoffer and Charles eating ugali and sikuma wiki (traditional Kenyan food)
Charles' son, mother, wife, niece and sister
Charles' wife Janet and daughter Hezrah

I printed these pictures for Charles yesterday so he could take them to his family and he was really appreciative of that. I'm sure they don't have family pictures taken very often! We might pay them a visit this weekend with Grace.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November 22, 2009 - Fourteen Falls

No, Grace did not fall down 14 times.

We took a little trip out of Nairobi on Saturday to visit a natural attraction called the Fourteen Falls: a waterfall site about an hour and fifteen minutes north of Nairobi. We've been talking about going to see the Falls for almost as long as we've lived here, although we have never actually talked to anyone else who has done it. It was just something we saw in our "Rough Guides" a long time ago and it kind of stuck as something we should do. After one week of being stuck in the house with a virus, I was eager to get out so we left at 8 in the morning to visit the Falls.

The Falls has the potential to be a great spot for those who want to get out of Nairobi without having to travel very far; there is great potential for camping and really appreciating a bit of nature. And, to give more context, we are used to visiting parks here that are run by the Kenyan Wildlife Service (the gov't), which are clean, well-maintained and employ trained, uniformed guides who are friendly and smart. Our expectation, therefore, was that the Falls would be similar to other places we have been.

The reality, however, is that the Falls are dirty and smelly and mostly unimpressive. When we arrived we paid a huge fee to "get in" to the site. Supposedly that money goes to the local council of the district, but we are not convinced (we wouldn't be surprised if the guys collecting the fee were pocketing some of it). Then we parked the car and were greeted by several young guys who wanted to be our "guide" of the Falls. Kristoffer asked how much and, of course, they told us not to worry about it, which classically foreshadowed the haggling that would take place at the end of our tour. The guy we ended up with was named "Steven" and within 5 minutes (or was it 2 minutes?) we could tell that he was drunk. Not only did he smell more-than-faintly of alcohol, but he started saying the same thing over and over and over (and over) again. If he told me fewer than 8 times that the river was called the Athi River then I am surprised. And, ok, maybe once just for fun at the end of our trip I did ask him, "What's the name of this river?" just because it was TOO EASY and I could not resist creating a bit of humor for myself. He repeatedly complimented Kristoffer's sneakers (so we were surprised that he never asked for them outright) and told us over and over and over (and over) again that his wife was dead and that he loved Grace and that I was a wonderful mama.

The water in the Athi River is essentially sewage from Nairobi and you can see below how dirty it is (imagine the smell to go with it). It was such a beautiful day and if the water had been bright blue to match the sky, it would have been a spectacular natural site. After looking at the falls, we took a bit of a "nature walk" with Stephen - who didn't tell us anything we didn't already know - to a small hippo pool and then we were ready to go.

So began the debate about how much to pay him. He asked for 2,000 Kenyan shillings, or about $25. Kristoffer offered him 500, or about $6.50, which I thought was even too generous. Stephen insisted on more money saying that this was his business and he had a large family to support, etc. So Kristoffer asked him, "When was the last time you drank alcohol?" Stephen thought that was irrelevant and kept trying to negotiate for more money, and Kristoffer kept asking him about when he last drank. After several minutes of this Kristoffer said, "Stephen this is your business. And if it were my business I wouldn't drink the night before and come to work drunk. If you had been sober and not told us the same thing so many times, maybe I would pay you more." So Stephen said he would take the 500. And as we were driving away Kristoffer reminded him from the car, "Stephen, stop drinking and use your money wisely for your family."

He (Kristoffer) was all fired up! As we were driving away and discussing this, he said to me, "I just hate Kenyan men. They are such a disappointment and I hate to see their wasted opportunities," which is a very good way of summarizing what we have learned in almost-two-years here. Kenyan men - and of course there are many exceptions to this generalization, but the reality is that generalizations usually exist for a reason - are lazy and spoiled and very, very frustrating.

So now we have been to the Fourteen Falls. I wouldn't say it was a wasted day at all, but it was a disappointing site, for me at least. Grace was very well-behaved and it was nice to get a little nature under our belts for the weekend.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 18, 2009 - All in the Family

The Welsiens have been hit hard by a nasty stomach virus. Kristoffer was sick with it over the weekend, then Grace had it on Monday, and then Tuesday I was down for the count. Kristoffer actually had to stay home from work because I was so sick in the morning. Yuck. Luckily we all seem to be on the mend now, although I am still not really eating much. We all saw doctors to confirm that it was a virus and not a parasite of some sort, so that is good news. You know, this IS Africa.

And to lift our spirits, we got some cute pictures of Baby Nora in our email. I hope my sister won't mind that I share them here, because Nora is SO cute and her immediate family seems completely in love with her.

Maybe if Nora is a really nice cousin, she'll lend Grace some of that hair!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 14, 2009 - Grace's NewER Trick

Since I posted the last blog three hours ago, Grace has mastered the skill of going from lying down to sitting up all by herself. We actually got the second time on videotape, which is really good for us because we always forget to tape stuff! She woke up from her afternoon waving to her father (not her arm lift, not the backwards wave, but the full on facing the person to whom she's waving with all fingers moving the right way), then proceeded to double wave with her arms in the air, and when she was on her belly crying she got herself in to the sitting position. Too bad she didn't do her "we are the champions" position after that accomplishment, she just cried!

This just goes to show how QUICKLY babies change. She couldn't quite do the sitting up thing a few hours ago and now she can! Now we know she'll be siting up in her crib all the time...and we fear that crawling is definitely next!


November 14, 2009 - Grace's New Trick

We haven't had anything too exciting going on since Baby Nora was born earlier this week. Although, Kristoffer and I did go out to dinner last night with some of our friends to celebrate a birthday, and we left Grace with Jonipher (our housekeeper) for the first time. Everything went well (Grace did wake up and Jonipher kept her up playing until we got home, but no harm done and we all survived) and now we know that we do have an evening babysitter and can start being a bit more social.

Grace is close to going from lying down to sitting up by herself and is close to properly crawling forwards (backwards she has some sort of movement already). BUT what is she is into the most right now is featured below:
While eating a meal, she will frequently raise her arms up above her head for a few seconds (as above), and occasionally she will smile widely while doing so. She and I were sitting at the table eating lunch today from 12:30 to 1:00 and in that time she did this "we are the champions" bit 12 times! It is very funny. In the eating department things are going well; for lunch today she had: one piece of whole wheat toast with hummus (she loves hummus!), two tablespoons of pureed pears mixed with whole grain oatmeal cereal, 1/4 of a potato, and 1 grape. It was her first time eating grapes and I think it was a bit tart for her preference. Anyway, we are making a lot of efforts to help her gain some weight and we hope they will pay off!

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 10, 2009 - The X Factor

My sister and brother-in-law, Meghan and Tim, and their children Michael, Sean, and Molly welcomed the newest addition to their family last night around 7:30 pm. The baby formerly called "the X factor" turned out to be Nora Patricia O'Brien; she weighed in at 7 lbs. 3 oz. and is about 19.5 inches long. It was not an easy labor or delivery for Meghan and required an emergency surgery once the baby was born; I am told that both Meghan and Nora are doing okay this morning. Sadly because of the H1N1 flu virus, no visitors are allowed to see them in the hospital so my parents are holding down the fort in Plainville with the three kids, who I am sure are eager to meet their baby sister.

I can't wait to see a picture of our newest niece! Congratulations, O'Briens!

Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9, 2009 - Uh Oh! Spaghetti-oh!

Grace: meet Spaghetti.
Spaghetti: meet Grace.
I think this is the start of beautiful friendship.
(eating whole grain pasta and homemade tomato sauce for the first time)


November 9, 2009 - Hurricane Ida

Grace went to the doctor today and we learned, in a big shock!, that she has gained almost no weight in the last two months! This is not good! She weighed 7 kg at 6 months+2 weeks old and today, at 8 months+2 weeks old, she weighed 7.1 kg. I made them weigh her on 3 different scales because I couldn't believe it! This is a baby who likes fruits and vegetables, and eats them well. But apparently they have not been enough for her to put on weight. We will change our feeding strategy and give her cereal with every meal instead of just once a day; we'll start giving her whole grain pastas, rice, and bread as well. And we'll load her up on avocados! Calories, calories, calories! The doctor basically said she is clear to eat anything but nuts, honey, and we'll feed her a bit more like we feed ourselves, just all soft and mashed, of course. I have to say I have been very bummed about this all day because her being underweight (she is now less than 10th percentile for weight) seems like an accusation that I have been doing something wrong in the feeding department. I'm sorry, Grace, and I'll try harder to help you put the weight on! She did grow a couple of centimeters, so she is still 50th percentile for height. It seems to me that she would LOOK a lot skinnier if she is 50th for height and 10th for weight, but she still has those chubby cheeks and thighs! Maybe she is just a baby with a high metabolism? I mean, it is not like Kristoffer and I are the biggest people, right? The doctor supports breast-feeding until we are ready to stop (at 1 year or later) but I suppose if she continues to not gain weight then maybe we would need to reconsider our no-formula policy. I'll keep you posted on that, and in the mean time if you have any suggestions for helping a baby gain weight - please pass them on!

In other news, we got an update on "the-housekeeper-formerly-known-as-Ida" yesterday. Our friend learned from her housekeeper that Ida got a job at another compound on our street as the nanny for two American children. This is the kind of job she wanted - no cooking or cleaning! - and I am sure she is much happier than she was with us (and hopefully isn't stealing from her new employers). We also heard that Ida came to our compound to visit her housekeeper friend but our guards wouldn't let her in because we gave them strict orders not to! So her friend had to visit with Ida outside the gates of our compound. This is the first time that I think the guards have really listened to us! But, of course, we had heard before that they didn't really like Ida because she was rude to them to begin with, so maybe they had an ulterior motive for keeping her out. Anyway, when I read in the news that there was a hurricane named Ida out there, I wondered if the person who named the hurricane was a reader of our blog?!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

November 8, 2009 - Family Time

It might just be my imagination, but it seems to me that Grace is happiest when she is relaxing with both her parents. We had a really nice, relaxing weekend together. It started for Grace on Friday, when I decided to let her air out in her birthday suit for awhile after she just recovered from a somewhat nasty diaper rash (in the heat now she sweats a lot).

She enjoyed playing in her room and her can be found chomping on Baby Jesus from her "Little People" Nativity set. She couldn't quite give up control of her blocks though so she kept them nearby, which also kept my pictures from being too indecent :)

On Saturday the three of us went to lunch at "Amani", the cafe/playground where our playgroup meets every week. They serve delicious salads and treats in a really serene garden. There are always lots of families with babies there, and we even saw three other families that we know. Nairobi is a surprisingly small world.

Here Grace was trying out the slide for the first time. She took it very seriously and was not too thrilled.

I think this is the BEST picture of Kristoffer and Grace, ever! I guess people are right...she does look like him!
You can see a little bit of both teeth in this shot.

While we ate, Grace was happily emptying the contents of my bag...until...

her friend Molly came along (literally, Molly is almost 1 and a super-fast crawler) and wanted to share. You'll note that Grace's shorts were a little too big for her and kept falling off!

Even though it was hot out this weekend, Grace was a very happy baby.

Our weekend ended today at a lovely brunch (ok, we were eating from 1 to that really brunch?!) with several friends, some "usual suspects" and some new faces as well. Grace was really good for being out all day in the heat and we stuffed her with a lot of cereal before bed. Here's hoping she sleeps long and well in a repeat of Thursday night's performance. Tomorrow morning she goes to the doctor bright and early for her 8-month check up! Stay tuned for her latest stats!


Friday, November 6, 2009

November 6, 2009 - In the News

I am still blogging this morning because after her big night of sleep and being awake since 5:30 this morning, Grace is taking a great morning nap!

Yesterday there was an article in the New York Times about the current situation in Kenya and its handling of the post-election violence disaster. Basically, the government has been dragging its feet on the issue of prosecuting politicians who are suspected of funding and aggravating the post-election violence in early 2008. Finally, the International Criminal Court in the Hague will now take action and begin its official investigation in December. Prior to now Kenya has been given many chances to set up a local tribunal here which it has repeatedly failed to do. The article implies (correctly, in my opinion) that both political parties in Kenya have reasons for covering up this matter and that both will be damaged when the names of suspected politicians are revealed and prosecuted. We'll see how long the ICC investigation takes before a trial actually commences.
Another interesting article I read this morning reports a new study about how babies cry. It says that babies cry in their "mother-tongue", where the pitch and volume of their cries can be compared to speech patterns they have heard from their mother since they were in utero. There are some critics of this theory, but German and French babies' cries were studied in depth to determine how babies mimic their mothers. Now...I think it would be hard to determine on my own if Grace's cries sound like my own voice, but there is one baby in my group who definitely cries similarly to the way her Australian mother talks (and she sounds very different from the European and American babies in our group when they cry). It is fascinating!

It is amazing what I can read and get done with a "good night" of sleep and a napping baby!

November 6, 2009 - Oh, what a night!

Grace went to sleep last night at 7pm. She did not make one peep until 3:30am. That is 8 1/2 hours of sleep! She has only ever slept 9 hours three times before in her life (months ago!) and has never slept longer than that at once, so this was nearly a record for her. I woke up at 2am and thought about going in to check on her, but decided that she was probably fine and to just embrace the sleep (was that wrong?). I fed her at 3:30 and she slept for 2 more hours before being up for the day. Hallelujah! Not that I went to sleep at 7pm myself...but not too much after 9pm so that I did get the longest stretch of sleep I have had in ages. It feels good!

And to what can we attribute this change in her sleeping behavior? Well...for dinner last night she ate: 2/3 of an avocado, 1 small potato, 2 tablespoons of smashed carrot, and 1/8 of a honeydew melon. Coincidence? I hope not! We will load her up with food again tonight and see if we can turn this anomaly into a pattern!


Thursday, November 5, 2009

November 5, 2009 - Groupies

Grace and I had a fantastic time at our play group yesterday. It was nice to see my mom friends again and I was reminded of how important it is for the both me and Grace to interact with other moms and babies!

Grace is pretty cute with the other kids: she tries to touch them and talks to them and shares her toys (also maybe takes toys from other kids too...but they are babies, they all do that!). She is so stimulated that it is an easy few hours for me :)

There were 10 moms yesterday and 5 of us have been going regularly (when in the country) since our first meeting six months ago. We talked about how much the babies have changed and grown; three of the original babies have already turned 1 or will do so this month! We have grown accustomed to holding each other's babies while we take turns eating a salad or drinking coffee, and yesterday we noted that most of our discussion topics haven't changed in six months: sleeping, feeding, frustrations with Kenya, and developmental milestones. During our discussion yesterday, one of the babies stood up unassisted and remained standing by herself for over a minute for the first time. I desperately wished I had my camera with me because we were all sitting around her clapping and cheering, and she was standing there with this huge smile on her face. It was really special, almost like she had ten moms instead of just one!

On a day like today, when it is almost 4pm and Grace has only napped for 20 minutes since 6:15 this morning and I am exhausted and currently letting her scream in her crib because I need a break from holding her, I am especially grateful to know that I have that outlet every week and wonder to myself, "is it Wednesday yet?"


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 4, 2009 - Ride On

Grace got a new toy yesterday. It is supposed to be a walker that turns into a rider, but Grace always has her own view of how things should go so she reversed the order. Even though she seems to enjoy practicing to walk with us, she was not so happy about doing it with this gadget. She does, however, really like to "ride" it, even though her little legs can't quite touch the ground yet! It also has a little basketball part to it and she likes the sound when we turn it on.

Kristoffer took Monday and Tuesday off of work to hang out with us and we had a great time. One of the things we did together was take Grace to a yoga class for moms and babies (Kristoffer was allowed). Let's just say that Grace was not a huge fan of yoga on the first try. She was really tired (the final vestiges of her jet-lag kicked in) and over heated quickly so she screamed big time. She ended up eating and falling asleep for the last 30 minutes, during which time Kristoffer did the yoga for all of us. We'll try again next week and see if it goes any better. Kristoffer is back at work today and we miss him, but we are also getting back to some kind of normal routine. Today we get back to our regular baby/mom's group and are interested to see how all the babies have changed in the last month!

Ride on, Gracie!


Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2, 2009 - The (Old) New Dane

Today was a big day for Grace!

We took her to the Danish Embassy to apply for a Danish passport and we discovered that Grace was automatically a Danish national at birth because Kristoffer and I are married. If we weren't married, she wouldn't be a Danish citizen. So yay for Danish citizenship! We had been told contrary information in the past and didn't think she was an automatic Dane!

We were also told that she keeps her Danish citizenship until she is 22 years old. Currently the law in Denmark does not allow for dual citizenship after that age, so if the law doesn't change then she will have to choose when she is 21. If she forgoes her American citizenship to remain a Dane, she will have to apply and they review it on a case-by-case basis looking at connections to Denmark, language, and a few other factors. BUT the good news is that the same law was recently changed in Sweden and it is very likely that within the next 20 years the law will change in Denmark. If so, Grace would get to keep both citizenships permanently which would give her so many options in terms of education and employment in the future. We are hoping that happens because what a gift we feel that would be for her to literally have much of the world as her oyster :) Some Danes might need to start voting a little bit more to the left in order for the law to change (hint hint: Hans, Military Morten, Lars?) so we will be pushing for that when we are home for Christmas!

Grace is RED, Grace is WHITE, Grace is DANISH DYNAMITE!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

November 1, 2009 - Trick-or-Treat

Yesterday evening we took our little giraffe to a Halloween party where there was some safe, staged, expat trick-or-treating going on.
We were invited to this party by our neighbors and fellow trick-or-treaters, Ben and Mae (below, a skeleton and a Harry Potter Death Eater, respectively):
Grace didn't eat any of the candy, but she did enjoy holding individual pieces as we went along.

I am sure, as with most other things in her life so far, Kristoffer and I enjoyed the whole thing even more than she did.

Today - the morning after - she got back to her healthy eating habits with this bowl of carrots.
And our weekend concluded with this BEAUTIFUL rainbow right over our house! That has to be good luck, right?