Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 29, 2011 - Halloween Safari

Our wonderful American friends invited us for Halloween on their compound (everyone who lives on the compound works for the US government) this afternoon, so we actually got to "trick or treat" door-to-door for real! Once Grace warmed up she was so "into it" and such a cute lion (approriately, since she was named Simba before she was born).  Noah took a little nap while Grace was raking in the (American!) candy, but was an extremely sweet giraffe for his First Halloween (just like Grace was for hers).  Trick-or-treating was followed by yummy snacks and drinks and playtime with our friends, and overall we all had such a great time.  Thanks, Wilson family, for a great Halloween!

If you could go on safari with this giraffe-boy and lion-girl everyday, I think you would!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October 26, 2011 - Mulligan

I decided to take a "do over" (or "Mulligan") on Noah's 9th month picture.  Granted the sign says October 24th and I really took the picture on the 25th and am now posting it on the 26th...but still.  The pictures are much better than the ones I took on the 23rd in my crazy-mother's-haste.  And I doubt he's grown THAT much since Saturday :)

His new favorite games are "peek-a-boo" with the curtains and dropping stuff while you're holding him to hear you say "Uh Oh" (and repeat).

Just can't get enough of this baby!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 25, 2011 - Little Typist

Grace asked me this morning if she could "do the letters", by which she meant "type on the computer."  So I opened up to a new blog and below is what she had to say. She seems to have a thing for the letter Q.  /LMW

``1111123344567890-,l ;yt;’;p[
QBBBAaqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqf qqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqazvj8uhbygknrtn be,t,,,,,,,,,,,,



GEW (Ok, Mama typed that one)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 23, 2011 - Forgetful Mama

It's not that I didn't know that Noah was 9 months old yesterday.  It's just that I sort of...forgot?  

Actually, to be more accurate I was thinking that he was born on the 26th (that's Grace!) and I even told a nice woman at church this morning who asked his age, "He'll be 9 months old in a few more days."  Or yesterday!  And so, yesterday was the 22nd and I didn't take a picture of Noah with his monthly sign, or write in his baby journal, or acknowledge his age in any way whatsoever.  I guess that's what happens to the second-born: he has a lot more bruises on his head than his sister ever did and I forgot his 3/4-year-birthday.  At least he'll have something to tell his therapist when he's older.  And, to be fair, if you've watched the news lately or read Kristoffer's previous blog, you'll know that we sort of have a lot on our minds over here right now!

But about Noah...

He is really curious and really mobile.  A dangerous combination if you ask me!  He loves to climb up the stairs now, pull himself up, and do a bit of cruising around the furniture.  He also likes to walk around holding our hands or fingers, but we think walking is another month or two away yet.   He falls down A LOT because he doesn't know his own limits and is constantly pushing them (or because I don't pay enough attention to him).  He says Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga now.  He crawls to see me with the biggest smile on his face if I enter a room where he already is.  He follows Grace around like a puppy dog.  Cries when she cries.  Doesn't understand why she hoards things that he wants to play with.  

Noah likes to have his teeth brushed, likes to be tickled, has an amazing laugh.  He is not sleeping well anymore (oh the ups and downs of this boy's sleep!) and he now has two front teeth up top to match the ones below.  He wants to feed himself but absolutely gags or chokes on anything that isn't smooth (except cheerios, which we are now out of, or small pieces of banana), so meals have become a bit of a fight to get him to be spoon fed still.  I won't even go into the story of how he swallowed a not-small-at-all toy the other night, choked on it, and then vomitted it up again...because it was insanely traumatic for me and Kristoffer.  In general, this guy is doing great AND keeping us on our toes!

Kristoffer says:  He is progressing everyday.  It is quite amazing.  Every day last week he could do something better.  It's actually unbelievable.  

Even though I didn't acknowledge it yesterday, we love this little guy so much and find it hard to believe that he is already three quarters of a year old.  Today's pictures are pretty terrible - sorry Noah!  where is my head?! - and I'm thinking of re-taking them tomorrow.  But if I'm being honest, here they are...and he is still cute, regardless of my terrible-rushed-guilty photography.  What a guy!



Friday, October 21, 2011

October 21, 2011 - The Kibera Incident

I went to Kibera last week, which is the largest slum in Nairobi if not all of East Africa. Over the last four years I must have gone there at least 30 times for project monitoring and project implementation purposes. Lately I mostly go there during donor visits; like recently we took Vice President Joe Biden’s son there and a few other visitors. For this visit we had like 6-8 Secret Service Agents.

Last week it was a Chinese delegation and we were just visiting one school in the inner Kibera. During the visit the children had prepared an impressive performance and everything was going quite well. The visitors saw the kitchen where our school meals are prepared and my manager took them to the food store, which was a small dark room. Most of us were standing outside as there was no space for all of us in that little room. I noticed several young men entering the school compound looking around. Suddenly two of them had guns out and came directly for us. We have been trained for these types of situations so we did exactly what they asked us to, which was to lay down and hand over our money, cameras and cell phones; I also had to part with my wedding ring. At no point was a gun pointed directly at me and the whole thing took 2-3 minutes; then they where gone. My manager had managed to hide the highest-level delegates in the storeroom: she just stood in the door blocking the entry. I think the robbers were too scared to move inside the rooms so that went well.

Afterwards everything was reported to the police and UN security and I think we will go with a lot of (armed) security next time.

The day after I attended a group counseling session at the UN and a quick 20- question survey indicated that I was between normal and mildly stressed by the situation. The following days I have been very tired and unmotivated but that should be a normal reaction. A wife has proven to be particularly helpful in this situation : )

I plan not to go back to Kibera and now that Kenya is at war with Al Shabab (terrorists in Somalia), we basically just stay home and avoid malls, cafes, and any place that a lot of people might be.  

Looking forward to a Christmas holiday.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 20, 2011 - Stair Master

Noah started climbing our stairs on Sunday, and we finally got it on tape this morning 
(K is home from work for a Kenyan holiday - yay!).  

He's a little more than 2 months ahead of Grace when it comes to stair climbing.  He is also cruising now, so we think he'll walk before his first birthday (but really, who knows).  Better dust off the baby walking shoes!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October 19, 2011 - Sun Salutation

Grace likes to do yoga with her Far. 
(Sorry it's not the best view, but I was trying to be discreet so she wouldn't stop doing it.)

For "directions" on how to do the Sun Salutation yourself, you can visit here.  Kristoffer doesn't do a lot of yoga these days, but it is his favorite yoga exercise and one that he does regularly.  Looks like Grace might be a yoga girl (unlike her Mama)!


Monday, October 17, 2011

October 17, 2011 - Rain

This picture speaks a thousand words.


Friday, October 14, 2011

October 14, 2011 - Someone's Getting Big

Big Boy Noah can sit at Grace's table in the kitchen now.
Which causes Grace some stress when, for example, he tries to take her yogurt.
He increasingly wants to feed himself...
...and looks like he is "getting away with something" when he does.
Almost looks like he thinks he is the star of a Gerber commercial...
who taught him about product placement?!
And perhaps you'll remember the pictures of Grace in a basket from here or here...well, we just thought it was only fair that Noah had a basket photo shoot as well.  Grace kept filling the basket with toys and he kept throwing them out.  Turns out it was fun for everyone!

Boy boy!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 12, 2011 - Best of Nairobi

I am experimenting with a new page on our blog. You can see it as a tab next to "More About Us", called "Best of Nairobi".  It is just sort of a rambling list of recommendations or contacts that people coming to visit or live in Nairobi might find useful.  It is not complete, more of a work in progress really, but since I've been meaning to get it up for MONTHS I figured I should just put something up there to get started.  

Have you been to Nairobi? What do you think I should add?  


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October 11, 2011 - Best Part of My Day

The best part of my day came at a seriously unusual moment.  

Grace skipped her nap today and so by 4:00 pm was being extremely difficult. Dinner didn't go well, post-dinner play time didn't go well.  Lots of crying involved.  We came upstairs for baths and during some tantrum about something Grace grabbed the camera strap that was hanging over the desk and pulled our camera on the floor.  We, her parents, did not react so happily and Grace ended up in a "time out" in her room with the door closed.  Screaming.  

Then, one of the cutest things we've ever seen happened.

Noah super-crawled across the living room to Grace's door, got up on his knees and leaned against the door, and cried.  

He wanted her!  Or he wanted us to let her out!  Save my sister!

"Precious" does not even come close to describing that image.  They were both crying and miserable, and Kristoffer and I were really, really happy.


Monday, October 10, 2011

October 10, 2011 - Great Exploration

Noah is at an amazing age of exploration right now.  He is a really fast crawler and is improving his climbing and pulling-up skills everyday.  When he sees something of interest to him, he just goes for it. 

This particular exploration involved a ball that had rolled under our bed:

Grace got a little bit stressed that Noah was under the bed and after demanding that I remove him, which I refused, she tried to talk him out: "Come out, Noah!  I said COME OUT!"

The exploration ended when Noah decided that the camera looked more interesting than the ball and he super-crawl-chased me down!

Love this age!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October 9, 2011 - Bouncy Castle

Grace loves bouncy castles and they are usually one of her favorite parts of a Nairobi birthday party (the other favorite parts being singing Happy Birthday and sometimes eating the cake).  Today, Noah went into the bouncy castle for the first time at a birthday party for our friend Max.  Noah started laughing when we put him in it and smiled, bounced his head, and crawled around for quite awhile.  

He looked like this...

...while his big sister was catching some sweet, sweet air!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

October 8, 2011 - Parent's Day

Yesterday was "Parent's Day" at Grace's school.  The first half of it included a psychologist facilitating a discussion about discipline and the second half of it was in Grace's classroom with her teacher, learning about her goals and methods and their "curriculum" for the year, etc.  

Within the first part, I liked being split into small groups to discuss a discpline-related question. I met some new parents and thought that our discussion was interesting.  The psychologist herself made some good points, but I was not a huge fan of her delivery.  I thought she made a lot of generalizations and was trying too hard to be funny; she also seemed to hope that our discussion would be more dramatic than it was.  Most parents seemed pretty happy with a "no drama" afternoon though.  She started off by saying that she didn't like teenagers, the population I happily used to teach.  I kept telling my friend next to me that I better not make any comments or else it could have quickly turned into my own lecture!

Time in the classrooms was, I think for all parents, the real reason we were there.  It was nice to hear about the structure and routine of Grace's morning at school and all the reasons why her teacher is or isn't doing certain things.  I genuinely think she has another fantastic teacher this year, who is both loving but firm and aspires for all of her students to be very independent and well-mannered.  I was also so happy to hear that Grace's behavior has been great for the last two weeks.  It seems that the bully has left the building!  PHEW! I truly believe that most of that "acting out" was related to Noah' increasing mobility in our home and, perhaps, some competition with another child in her class (I didn't blog about it, but two weeks ago I actually had a meeting in the Headmistress' office because Grace not only pushed and hit other children that day but also talked back to the Headmistress!).  I think communicating regularly with the school and remaining loving but consistent in our discipline at home helped get Grace through a sort of developmental "crisis".  Let's hope we have a break before the next one comes along :)

It struck me as funny - although not that surprising! - that of all the parents in Grace's class yesterady (her class has 15 students and we were 8 parents), the only people asking questions were me and the other American mother in the class!  I think I am still getting used to being the parent and not the teacher, but I really enjoyed some hours at Grace's school in that role. 


Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 6, 2011 - Learning about Hunger

Just read this great article about an episode of Sesame Street (airs in the US on October 9th on PBS) that teaches - or makes a great attempt, at least - about child hunger (thanks for sharing the article, Karen Dahl). While the issue is complex, the article praises Sesame Street for calling attention to it because it is a difficult one to talk about with young children.  I know it is a topic that I am increasingly trying to broach with Grace, within her realm of understanding.  For example, when she refuses to finish her food I will say, "Grace, there are many children who don't have any dinner tonight.  We don't want to be wasteful so eat everything on your plate."  Maybe she is too young to "get it", but if I say the words often enough perhaps it will sink in.  Given that this issue is close to our lives in Kenya, particularly because of Kristoffer's work, I think it's great that Sesame Street has touched on it.  Just wish we could get it on TV here!

Maybe you can watch on our behalf?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October 5, 2011 - For You are a Kenyan Child

My children received gifts in the mail this week, sent from my sister Christine.  They each received their own copy of this hardcover picture book:
It is a very sweet story about "a day in the life" of a Kalenjin boy growing up in a traditional village (Kalenjin is one of Kenya's 46 tribes).  The day it describes doesn't mirror a day in the life of our children, but the pictures are spot-on, the bits of Swahili dialogue are authentic, and it captures the "real" Kenya quite well.  Grace and Noah aren't Kenyan, but they were born in Kenya and it is their home.  Grace already loves the story (we've read it five times since yesterday; her favorite pictures is the one of a dung-beetle because it reminds her of a special memory she has with my dad) and I like that  our kids will always have this special book about the country of their birth.  Very cool.  

Thank you, Auntie Tine!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

October 1, 2011 - Thank You, Followers for Food

In less than a full month's time, the number of people publicly following our blog went from 16 to 82!  I also know of at least four people who are following the blog privately.  If we're at 86 followers at least, we gained 70 followers in September.  

We will double that number and donate $140 towards famine relief in the Horn of Africa this month - thank you for your vote of confidence in our blog and for helping those who need it most.