Saturday, February 26, 2011

February 26, 2011 - Two-year-old Monkey

Grace had a "monkey" birthday today! It is very hard for us to believe that she is already two-years old. Here is a little bit about her day...

She woke up at 5 am and was happy to play with Far upstairs (and eventually Mama and Noah) before going downstairs for her birthday.
She was very happy to find a decorated downstairs with many balloons and many birthday presents!
She really loved her birthday train. Grace has been good at telling people that she is two now!
At 10 am we met up at the pool with some of our friends (10 kids + 4 infants + 16 parents + 2 grandparents!) for Monkeynastix! Grace had a good time in the beginning but then got a little bit overwhelmed by everything going on. It was a beautiful but very hot morning so after Monkeynastix we moved down to our house.

At home Grace got to eat her monkey cake. It was a tough transition from the poolside to our house because when we came home all the kids started playing with Grace's toys and she wasn't quite prepared for sharing with so many people. After a brief meltdown she recovered and we had a nice time with our friends.
Noah was pretty much like this with Nene all day.
Grace's friend Hayley was really making her laugh for a little while. I was happy to catch a big smile on camera :)
When everyone had gone and Grace woke up from her nap, she enjoyed playing with her goodie bag and all the balloons in the quiet of her own company.
Mama wanted one good mother-daughter picture but Grace wasn't so thrilled.
Our two-year old was happy to go to sleep after a long, busy, fun birthday. She happily gave Noah some night-night love.
And just as happily crawled into bed for the night.
We know Grace has been going through a tough time adjusting to Noah as a member of our family, so we really wanted this day to be special for her. In hindsight, maybe we had too many people over to celebrate with her, but it was a lovely day overall and I think she felt our love. At least I hope so! We are so proud of our big girl - a beautiful daughter, a great big sister. Happy, happy birthday Gracie!


Friday, February 25, 2011

February 25, 2011 - Cupcakes!

Today is Grace's last day to be 1 and yesterday we (me and Grace) made cupcakes to bring to her class for snack time today. Needless to say, it was the cutest thing ever. And I am proud that I didn't cry at all (neither did Noah!)...but talk to me tomorrow when my baby girl is actually 2!

Grace got to sit in the teacher's chair when her class sang Happy Birthday.
Grace liked it when they clapped for her!
Twelve children, one teacher, four assistants. And the room was quiet as they all drank their juice and ate their cupcakes. Miss Mbata's classroom management of all these little ones never ceases to impress me.
The birthday girl ate almost her whole cupcake (which is a lot for her!).
And like all the other children she cleared her plate and cup.
Nene and Noah were hanging out in the back of the classroom. It was Nene's first time sporting the Bjorn and Noah's second time sleeping through an event at Grace's school!

I can't believe two years have flown by, and I look forward to celebrating our big girl tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 22, 2011 - One Month Old

Noah is one month old today, and what a month it has been! He has been through a lot, namely a serious virus with its corresponding tests and treatment (spinal tap! ouch!) and a high-maintenance sister! But through it all he has remained an extremely sweet, sweet boy. He seems to be in a phase where he eats A LOT for two straight days and then he has two days of mostly sleeping. It is in an interesting pattern and I continue to be fascinated by both the similarities and differences between Noah and Grace's newborn-hood.

He is a handsome little fellow who is more and more a part of our family every day. We can't believe that the last month has already flown by (particularly given how S-L-O-W the last month of my pregnancy felt!), that Kirsten and Hans have already come and gone, that my parents are already here, and that Noah ever wasn't in our lives. We are still adjusting to our new life (read: GRACE is still adjusting to being a big sister...we have great days like yesterday and tough days like today!) but we couldn't be more grateful for it.

The little guy is getting big (check up at the doctor next week; will report new stats then)!
(note for the record: I did intend to take a picture of Noah with his eyes open today but there were few opportunities to do so and Grace seemed to swoop in just at those moments when his eyes were brightest!)

February 22, 2011 - Changing of the Guard

For 32 hours, two of our three sets of parents were with us in Nairobi. My parents arrived late Sunday night and Kirsten and Hans left early this morning, so Kristoffer took Monday off of work and we let Grace play hookey from school to spend the day with her grandparents! It was a great day - we went to the Windsor Country Club for some out-of-city relaxation and a nice lunch. My parents were jet-lagged and Kirsten and Hans were getting sad to leave us, but we all managed to have a great day together.

When your families live on different continents, the opportunities for merging both sides are few and far between; previously our parents had only met at our wedding! Kristoffer and I were almost overcome with emotion as we sat around the table together. We were so grateful to take advantage of the day together and Grace was extremely happy to have so many people who love her all around.

So we had to say goodbye to Kirsten and Hans today - we will all miss them but Grace will especially because they are very important to her and she is very attached to them. Thank you Kirsten and Hans, once again, for everything you did for and with us while you were here. You made our first month as a family of four much easier than it would have been without you and we are so appreciative of your time, energy and cooking/baking!


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February 15, 2011 - Sports Day

Today was "Sports Day" at Grace's school, where each class participated in some kind of race for all the parents to watch.

First, there was a small assembly and some singing. You'll notice that Grace is no longer the youngest or smallest in her class anymore. Her class went from 6 kids to 18 kids this term. There are now 2 teachers with 3 or 4 assistants. I thought she might freak out about this change but she seemed to take it in stride and is very friendly with the other children in her class. When she gets to school in the morning, she likes to hug everyone!
This is Grace at the starting line for her class' race. They had to race halfway down the track to pick up a stuffed animal, and then race the rest of the way to their parents. They called it "Little Wild Hunters". You can see from the pictures that Grace was not in a huge rush and made it to me last in her class...but she still finished! As a non-athlete, I was very proud that she still got a medal despite not "winning" the race.
Here the gym teacher is trying to show her how to jump over the hurdles. Minor problem: Grace is still so small that she can't quite get both of her feet off the ground at the same time to officially jump. She does practice a lot and I think she'll get it soon!
Eventually she picked up her lion!
And made it to a proud Mama at the finish line to get her medal!Then Grace and Farmor cheered on her schoolmates in their races...
...and even cheered on Hans when he competed in the "parents race". Since Kristoffer couldn't be there it was a good thing Hans was there to represent our family. Not that he is very competitive or anything (wink wink)...but his team did win :)
It was so great that Farmor and Hans could come to Sports Day at Grace's school! In another week we have our first parent-teacher conference at Grace's school too. Really looking forward to hearing what her teacher has to say!


February 14, 2011 - Valentine's Day

Spending last week in the hospital with Noah seriously threw off all the things I had planned to get done, including Valentine's Day shopping! But I managed to pull some things together so that everyone in our house, Farmor and Hans included, got a special Valentine.
Grace really liked the book Noah got...
...until she opened her own Valentine and loved her new castle!
Kristoffer thought it would be a real Valentine'd Day treat to teach Noah to stand up on his own..
...but given this look on Noah's face, I don't think he agreed with his Far!
So nice to spend Valentine's Day with a loving family!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

February 12, 2011 - Homecoming (again!)

Today, on Noah’s 3-week birthday, he came home from the hospital for the second time. He has been in the hospital for the last four days with a viral infection that made him very sick. It was a scary and sad experience for us, his family, and I can only imagine how miserable the whole ordeal was for him. The details don’t really matter now and I don’t even have the energy to record them all here. He was really unwell at the beginning of the week; he was poked and prodded and jabbed and stuck too many times; he was tested for all kinds of possible infections. We are grateful that nothing extremely serious, like meningitis, was detected and that all tests pointed to a viral infection instead of a bacterial one. We’ll probably never know exactly what or who it was that made him sick, but we do know now that he is well again now and that is all we care about. His fever is gone, he is eating again, he can stay awake and alert for extended periods of time now, and I swear he keeps sneaking me smiles when nobody else is looking. He is truly our little fighter – Rocky for sure! – and we have been so impressed with how much strength he has already in his brief 21 days of life.

Being in the hospital with Noah meant that I didn’t have very much time with Grace this week, which of course broke my heart given that she was already having a difficult time dealing with sharing her Mama at home. Kirsten and Hans were in Mombasa – wonderful for them, just bad timing for us! – so Kristoffer and Rose did a great job of keeping Grace on schedule and pretty happy all week. With nightly visits to the hospital to see Mama and Noah, she managed to be brave and strong and happy and amazing during my 4th extended hospital stay since October. Kristoffer was a bit under the weather himself at the beginning of the week (yes, perhaps their illnesses were connected) but managed to be a really wonderful father, even if maybe he didn’t devote his usual 110% to his job (they had to settle for 99% this week). I was already tired before Noah got sick and am physically and emotionally exhausted at this point, but the peace of mind I have about Noah’s health will surely help me recover some energy and rest in the next week.

So, phew. Crisis over, we are home now. We are grateful that so many people’s prayers helped Noah get better and we feel blessed that nothing more chronic or serious caused his illness. A newborn baby’s health is nothing to mess around with; his life was already so precious to us and is now even more so after what he went through this week. Our hearts go out to those parents whose children battle more serious or long-term health problems…it is nothing short of torture to watch your child be in pain or suffering and be unable to quickly make it all better. We could barely stand it for 4 days and we really know how lucky we are.

It has never been so wonderful to come home.

I did not take any pictures of Noah when he was sick...I have way too many mental pictures that I can't erase and they didn' t need digital companions. But this was Noah last night, after he was well and it was decided we could come home today, just before they took out his central line.

And this is our healthy boy today. Home again home. Three weeks old.