Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 27, 2012 - Summer Daze

Because I have been a bit of an absent blogger lately, here is a long update on the kids.  If you're not interested then tune in next time for reports on my new career path.

Grace has been out of school for 3 weeks now.  This has given me much less free time to do anything, including update the blog.  We are on a playdate schedule with some of her friends where each morning the girls go to a different house Monday-Thursday and Friday is sort of play-it-by-ear.  All the kids are at our house on Mondays until they go back to school (August 9th...yes, I'm counting!).  Because we are trying to get Noah on a one-afternoon-nap-a-day schedule in time for him to start going to school in August as well, he and Rose are participating in the playgroup as well.  Grace is MUCH better behaved when I am not around, so I can't really go to the playdates except when they are here.  Sometimes she goes on her own or with Rose and Noah.  It is a good way to keep her busy because there is not much to do in Dar.

This is what Monday lunch time looks like at our house (thank God for the nannies!!!):

Otherwise the kids have been building a lot of Legos with Far:

a dinosaur

a dragon

And Grace has been busy getting her brother to do everything she says.  Can you find him in this pile of friends? (He willingly goes along with whatever she wants him to do almost all of the time...but the look on his face usually says something like, "My sister is crazy!")

Grace and Noah are both experiencing some growing pains. When they are good, they are sooooo good.  But Noah is getting more teeth, which makes him clingier and disrupts his sleep (I think).  Whenever he is clingy that makes HER even more whiny and clingy and sometimes I have both of them trying to climb on me at the same time and trying to knock the other one down.  They are competing for Mama! 

At least we are doing well in the eating department.  Grace will always fight to eat her dinner but will still end up finishing what's on her plate, so that is a success.  Noah eats well and stops when he doesn't want to eat anymore.  He is a fruit-monster...can eat a small watermelon or whole mango all by himself.  We think they are both growing!

Sleep is another story.  Noah goes to sleep well at night and almost always sleeps all the way through...but  only until wakes up between 4 and 5:30 and does not always go back to sleep.  This then affects his nap schedule because if he is up at 4:30 it is hard to keep him going until noon! 

And Grace.  Oh Grace.  Her best thing used to be going to sleep.  Follow the bed routine and she would go to sleep without fuss.  Almost every night, with very few exceptions, since she was 6 months old.  Seriously.  Around the world and with jet-lag and in different places.  She has been a really great go-to-sleeper.  But she has always been an early riser.  5:30 is her usual wake up, despite our best efforts (and occasional success) getting her to sleep until 6 am.  But now, for the last week, she has started being a normal "I WILL NOT GO SLEEP"er and fights us every night.  In addition to that, she is waking up once a night and then STILL wakes up for the day at 5:30 am.  So the girl is T-I-R-E-D.  She is clearly not getting enough sleep and is back to taking daily naps because she is so exhausted and miserable in the afternoon, but then that doesn't help us with the going to sleep business at night.  It is a vicious cycle.  And I REALLY WANT MY GOOD GO-TO-SLEEPER BACK because I feel it is unfair to have her up late and awake early.  GIVE ME A BREAK!  And fighting with an exhausted 3 year old at 9pm is really not how I like to end my days.  When she isn't tired she is an amazing little girl, but the exhausted version of Grace is giving me a lot of white hair.

What else...?  Grace is all about reading and writing and typing these days and is making good progress in those areas I think.  She initiates all of that kind of learning...she's just a little sponge and loves it.  She also loves the newly-discovered show from home "Backyardigans" which is really helping her develop an active imagination (as well as her singing and is a really cute show). She is becoming more typically "girly" than she used to be; I think this is the influence of her playgroup friends.  Her favorite color for over a year was brown but now everything is "I LOVE PINK!!" And the girl who would NEVER wear a dress has worn a dress three days in a row now.  She says, "We need more dresses!"  And she is walking around with a fully loaded purse, teasing her brother with its contents and then running away before he can get anything from her.  Sheesh!   Here is a clip of her reading Dr. Seuss...(it totally cracks me up)...

Noah continues to be a super sweet little guy.  He is a biter, though, so when Grace takes something from him (which is often) he reacts by biting her big time.  He bites when he gets mad or frustrated and doesn't know else to express himself.  We're working on it but she has marks all over!  He has two signs that he uses regularly - for "more" and "tak for mad", which means "thank you for the food" to tell us he is done eating. He has some success saying words that start with B (ball, bird, bear, bubble) and is trying to say even more things.  He is obsessed with shoes and trying to put on Grace's underwear and mopping/dusting and putting things together or taking them apart.  I will not be surprised if he ends up some kind of engineer...he is a total gadget guy!  Noah loves to go outside, loves dogs and birds and any kind of critter he can find (I found that he had cornered a cockroach the other gross, but he loved it!).  He gets sad when people say goodbye to him, but recovers well under the influence of his girlfriend - aka ROSE.  He has the greatest laugh and despite his teething discomfort is a really happy guy.  Here is Noah trying out Grace's bike when she was otherwise occupied.

Farmor and Hans arrive in two weeks and we have a calendar countdown going.  Grace is very excited (Noah will be too, once they are here!) and we are really happy that our home is now ready to host our loved ones.  This Friday we are also hosting the big Happy Hour Playgroup...fingers crossed our first hosting impression goes well.  It could make or break our reputation here for the next few years!

And that is our summer in Dar so far.  While everyone at home is getting ready for the summer heatwaves (although I hear it is pretty cold in Denmark right now!), we are experiencing cool/warm, breezy weather and I love every minute of it.  We have to enjoy it for as long as we can.  I hear the unbearable heat will starting creeping in come September and we'll suffer until April!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14, 2012 - How it All Began

Kristoffer proposed to me six years ago today. In NYC. In my classroom. On the last day of school. It was amazing. And because we have unpacked all of our stuff now, I was able to find the video on DVD to share. His proposal was the first of many surprises he planned on that day, and the first of many that have come, unplanned, since then. It will always be one of the best days of my life. 

Pretty good for a guy who once told me about proposals, "we don't really do that in Denmark!"

 And, happy birthday to Farmor today! We can't wait to see you next month!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 12, 2012 - Christmas on Steroids

Last Wednesday was a very big day for the Welsiens in Dar es Salaam.  

Our shipment from America arrived containing 60 boxes (or, to be specific, 56 boxes, 2 kid bikes, 1 ironing board with various other tall/skinny things taped to it, and 1 tool box) full of joy.  This was all of our stuff that we left in my parents' basement when we moved to Kenya in 2007 along with gifts and supplies that we acquired since then.  It was almost all of our wedding presents, still almost brand new and in many cases never used, as we had only been 5 months when we left them behind.  It also contained books and books and books...for me, these are individual memories tied to people and places in my life, and it sounds super corny, but I have surely missed them.  It contained a one year supply of diapers, wipes, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deoderant, shampoo and conditioner, hair stuff, hand soap, laundry detergent and toilet bowl cleaner.  And winter wardrobes for G&N so they don't get pneumonia this time when we go to Denmark for Christmas. 

The best way I can describe the day an expat gets his/her/their shipment from home is "Christmas on Steroids."  You can't unpack fast enough...or in our case, you can't find places to put all of your stuff fast enough!  We have the space, but not necessarily the right storage furniture!  It sounds quite materialistic, I'm sure, but it just feels so good to have all of our stuff.  Sentimental stuff...practical stuff...old stuff.  Our stuff! 

Here you can see it all - still crated and palatized on the "big truck".

And here you can see just some of the boxes unloaded in the house.  (I was the foreman so I couldn't take too many pictures!)

Noah's favorite item to unpack was I think our very big stuffed giraffe.  He loves to give him kisses and hugs.  Grace's favorite thing from the "big truck" was her Cars bike and Dora helmet.  (Although they have both been REALLY happy reuniting with all of their Christmas and birthday gifts...we have had lots of fun and happy playing at our house the last week.  No bored kids here!) My favorite thing was the play kitchen we had bought for the kids.  It took us 2 1/2 hours to put it together but it was well worth it in the end.  Ok, that AND my Fiestaware.  AND the diapers. Kristoffer's says his favorite thing was also the kids' play kitchen.  AND our Keurig!

Most boxes are empty, but a lot of things haven't found a home beyond our bedroom floor just yet.  We're working on it.  There have been a lot of things going on at our house at the same time, such as getting curtain rods installed (FINALLY) and, therefore, curtains, an island in the kitchen, improvements to Rose's quarters, painting of furniture, construction of proper mosquito nets.  So we've been quite busy over here, but really happy.  And enjoying our stuff just as much as we expected to.    I would say we are about two weeks away from being completely settled in our new home...and it feels really good to be this close to that milestone. 


Sunday, June 3, 2012

June 3, 2012 - Circus Pictures

The Dancing Ballerina (aka Princess)

 Her brother who was dying to get his hands on one of those parasols...

Later on, Grace and her friend Freya were the horse from the circus while Solveig was their master.  
So cute!


June 3, 2012 - Under the Big Top

On Friday, The Nordic School held its annual "Circus Badutski", during which all children performed in some part of the big show.  It was adorable.  Kristoffer liked it more than Grace's "shows" in Nairobi because it was less strict and the kids were a lot more free/creative.  We were surprised to learn a few weeks ago that Grace would be performing as a princess...because she is really not a princessish type of girl. But, indeed, hers was maybe the 4th or 5th act in the circus and was the performance of beautiful dancing ballerinas with some elephants.  I could not believe that she smiled and twirled the whole time.  No stage freight.  No crying.  No shock.  Amazing.  I would say she has come a long way since her first performance a year and a half ago (you'll remember it here...).  The other parts of the show were also very sweet, but check out our dancing ballerina below.

At the end of the circus, the whole school sang two national anthems.  Because Grace's school includes children who are Danish, Swedish and Norwegian I guess they had to pick just one anthem to do...and they picked Sweden.  It is hard to tell in the video, but Grace does know the words (which we learned since she has been singing it at home since Friday).  Some of her teachers are Swedish and they speak to her in Swedish, she must have some understanding of the language.  After that came the Tanzanian national anthem sung in Kiswahili, which she also knows the words to and can sing on her own.  She is truly a child of the world :)

Circus Badutski was a great way to start off the weekend, as there was a family BBQ that followed into the evening.  And yesterday morning Grace was invited for a playdate at one girl's house, where we dropped her off and left her to play for 3 hours on her own.  It was her first unaccompanied playdate and she was both very well-behaved (we're told) AND had a wonderful time (followed by a 3 hour nap).  She is so big now! 

Summer vacation starts after this week and we'll be doing a play group with 3 other girls from Grace's class.  Mondays they will all be here, and Tuesdays through Thursday each other family will host the girls for the day.  Here's hoping it keeps Grace busy and happy with her friends until school starts again in August (at which time Noah will be going in the mornings as well).  


Saturday, June 2, 2012

June 2, 2012 - The DG

Oh, Day Guard...we were trying so hard to like you! But alas, you're fired. 

I have written about our clueless-but-friendly Day Guard before. Since then I think he has grown on me a little bit...or at least he has gotten a bit faster at the gate so I don't have to honk for him to let me in or out and that makes me like him more. And Noah likes to wave to him and bring him flowers when we are walking around outside. But there is something about him that is a little bit...shady. So today when Kristoffer found a pair of his fancy squash socks (easily his favorite article of clothing) hanging in the guard's shed, the DG became a suspect. 

Kristoffer asked the other workers on the compound who the socks belonged to and they told him "the guard." Then he asked Rose and she suspected the DG because she thinks she saw him taking stuff from the other workers one time when they were on a lunch break. She said she never leaves anything outside now because she thinks he is a thief (great insight...would have been great to know that sooner...). So then he went to the DG and had a conversation that went a little something like this (as immediately reported to the security company): 

K: Are these your socks? 

DG: Yes they are my socks.  

K: Are you sure? Because I had two pair of this same type of socks. They were given to me by my sister in-law two Christmases ago. They are special socks because they are used to play the game squash, which I play, and you can only get them in America. [shows him the special reinforcement for squash players] So are you sure they are not mine? 

DG: OK, they are yours. 

K: You know, sometimes I dry my clothes on the balcony and sometimes they fall to the ground during the rains, but it still means they are my socks. 

DG: Sure. 

The email to his boss that followed requested that we get a new DG and that the current DG not be allowed back on our compound to work. This was a difficult decision, actually, because we don't like to get him fired and because, of course, he knows where we live and could end up knowing our next guard. But if we let it go thie time it is likely that he will just take more things or more valuable things. So we are not likely to see him after this weekend. His day off is Tuesday and the guy who works that day is no big treat either...he takes two plastic chairs, puts his feet up on one of them, pulls his hat down and sleeps until I honk for him to let me in or out. So let's hope that he doesn't get promoted to permanent DG and that our next guard is as great as our day guards were in Nairobi. Michael and George...we really miss you guys these days! I am so glad we tipped them well when we moved.