Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30, 2013 - Post-Travel Stress Disorder


We are all back in Dar es Salaam now.  We've been here for about 5 days and I would say that Grace and Noah's jet-lag is gone (they did really great...although I might not have thought so during our first couple of late night playdates) and mine is one night away from disappearing.  

Our trip from Boston to Amsterdam went smoothly: Grace and Noah were super travel pros at Logan Airport; it is the first time that nobody panicked during my security patdown (pacemaker) when they had to go through security without me or anyone else.  They were always cooperative and calm and responsible for their own backpacks and suitcases. They didn't even stress out when our airplane's engine wouldn't start and we had to wait for one more hour for it to be manually started (picture some guys cranking it...picture me praying feverishly).  Noah didn't sleep much overnight, although he was well-behaved, so when we arrived in Amsterdam 6 hours later I was thrilled to see Farmor.  The transfer to our next flight was the hardest part for Grace, who was exhausted in the middle of the night.  

A very nice KLM woman took pity on us (good timing on your tantrum, Grace!) and upgraded us to "Economy Comfort" which means more leg room and more recline for the seats.  That was so nice!

About 10 1/2 hours from Amsterdam to Dar also went very well.  Noah slept the first four hours so I could also nap since Farmor could watch Grace. Throughout the trip the kids did some activities, read lots of books, watched a couple of shows on the mini TVs, wrote "emails" to Nene and Pops on their mini-magnadoodles, and didn't even wear down the iPad battery all the way. The last hour of our second flight was definitely the longest and hardest, but we survived.  We even received many compliments on how well behaved the kids were.  

All 10 pieces of luggage (for us and Farmor) arrived with us and everyone was THRILLED to see Kristoffer picking us up at the airport in Dar, even though we didn't get home until after midnight, totalling 25.5 hours of door-to-door travel.  

Noah's favorite part of the trip was all of the "hush candy" he received throughout the trip. Grace's favorite part of the trip was the ice cream given out midway through our flight from AMS to DAR. My favorite part of the trip was having Farmor's help for that loooooong leg!  I also loved that we didn't get any nasty service people - everyone on this trip was very friendly and helpful.  

The kids were, and still are, incredibly happy to be in their own house with their own stuff (old and new alike).  We are getting back to our normal routines and I would say we are almost fully re-organized after unloading our 300 lbs of luggage!

The only downside of our week at home thus far has been that Grace got a serious injury at school.  She was being driven around in the back of a car like this:

and apparently tried to use her foot as a break to stop it when her friend was driving fast.  Without shoes on.  This resulted in a first-degree burn on her foot that nobody knew was a first-degree burn!  We did clean it and tried to keep it covered, but since she hadn't gotten proper medical treatment I arrived at school yesterday to her screaming loudly as it oozed infected yellow guck.  Needless to say she is now on a week of antibiotics and has been home off of her foot all day today.  It was nice to see all of our "Friends" at the clinic, although I was hoping to stay away from them a little longer.  She gets it checked again tomorrow, and I'm sure she'll be fine.  We will hope for no more drama this week.

Welcome back!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22, 2013 - Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby!

I've been telling Noah for the last couple of weeks that he is almost not a baby anymore:  once he turns 2 he is a big boy!  So today when he woke up, he shook his head no while say "more baby."  No more baby!

And so we have a big, 2-year-old boy now.  All day long he was cute and chatty; he tried singing Happy Birthday to himself...he kept saying "My Birthday!" whenever Grace started talking about her own birthday (it was a slightly more stressful day for her...but she actually did really well I think...considering how desperate she is to turn 4 next month...). He was lovey and sweet and happy. Basically, he was himself...just 2 now :)

Here is Noah's birthday in pictures (and one video) from a lovely morning wake up with balloons and presents, a pancake and bacon breakfast, a trip to Build-a-Bear with Grace and Nora, and birthday pizza with ice cream cake at Auntie Meghan's house.  What a way to turn 2!  

A fun morning...

 The BEFORE picture at Build-a-Bear...

 The AFTER shots...

Dinner and ice cream cake with "the kids."

Have you ever seen such a happy kid!?

Just about to say "Night Night!"

The downside of the day was not being with or seeing Far at all :(  The upside is that we head home to Dar es Salaam on Thursday evening so will be reunited with him very soon (and we'll even pick up Farmor on our way!).  As Kristoffer said to me in an email about Noah, "Two years - it feels like he was always here."  We are so grateful for Noah...even though it was his birthday today, certainly we feel like the gift was and is all ours.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Noah!  You are so loved!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 20, 2013 - Finding Nemo

I have been a certified diver for 10 years now, but I haven’t been on a dive since my Australia trip 10 years ago. Now, Tanzania is fantastic for both scuba diving and snorkeling but we haven’t done much over the last year, which is almost a crime since it's literally is at our doorstep and because we can dive for only20-40 dollars from the yacht club. I took a 3-hour refresher course before Christmas.

Yesterday morning I finally dove in the ocean and it was great. Let me start the my story with:
“The sea was angry today my friend…like an old man trying to send soup back in a deli.” (Seinfeld)
The dive almost got cancelled because our boat got chopped around in the loading area as the waves came crashing down upon us. It calmed down for a few minutes and we got out. It was a 7 km boat ride with huge huge waves – ("I tell you they were ten stories high if they were a foot!" Seinfeld) - but we made it just fine. The boat stopped and our dive team of 8 was ready to go in, although we had to wait for some rookie who fumbled with his gear, almost forgot the weight belt and had to be reminded how exactly to role backwards off the boat and into the water (ahem). But we all got in – no problem. We descended quickly, although the rookie could have done better with a few extra pounds on the weight belt – that Christmas food is still stubbornly hanging on to him.

The visibility was amazing – more than 90 feet. I always feel half amazed and half weirded out by all these under water creatures – unspeakable things down there!!! I’m no marine biologist but we did see Nemo and all of his friends so it was great and I fully enjoyed the 52 minutes under water.

Back on the boat the waves had risen in size and on our way back we came upon what looked like a giant old row boat with an engine mounted in the back. About 20 people on board had made a small sail out of old sacks and had turned around because apparently their engine had broken down. The 20 Tanzanians sitting in this open boat in huge waves with a miniature homemade sail wanted a lift. We almost rammed into them when a huge tidal wave suddenly pushed them forward. They threw an old rope to us and we dragged them for a mile or two. Half a mile before shore, they signaled that we could drop them there, I think they wanted to set up their fishing net. We left them in the big waves
and as we took off they remounted their little improved sail and looked very happy.

That was it, we took the boat home and we haven’t heard from them since.
A great day at sea for me.

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18, 2013 - Here Comes Santa Claus

Kristoffer and I were so excited to have a creative meeting/playdate with our friend Sarah (and her daughter, Maura) who is illustrating our children's book.  I can't remember how many details I've shared here, but we started writing a picture book when I was pregnant with Grace.  It has come a LONG way since those days and my friend Sarah, a family friend from my pre-school days and also an illustration major in college (Go SU!), liked our story enough to agree to illustrate it.  We are not afraid of self-publishing and will definitely do that if all else fails, but will first try to put it out there into the world of children's literature and see if we can find a publisher who likes it too.  

We are in the beginning stages of illustration - Sarah is working HARD and we are so amazed to see how she brings our story to life.  Click here to visit Sarah's blog for a preview of our main character, Santa Claus, and her process in creating him as well.  Our Santa looks great, in both his North Pole and summer styles!

Any readers who have connections or insights into the world of children's publishing in America, please reach out to us!  We are really hoping to find an "in" and see where we can take it.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 17, 2013 - Back to Blogging

Hello 2013.  It's taken me awhile to catch my breath and find some time to sit down to blog a bit.  Grace, Noah and I are still in the US.  We have had bursts of busyness with some down time as well; we have missed Far since he went back to Dar last week and look forward to reuniting with him in another week's time.  

I haven't been so great with the camera this trip, especially because THE FLU (Kristoffer) and SERIOUS WINTER COLDS (everyone else!) are not particularly pretty to photograph.  We have had the pleasure of catching up with friends who are so dear to me from high school and college and the family circuit too. We've met up with some dynamic dinosaurs, shared story time at the library, and marked a milestone or two (Noah's first haircut...and soon his 2nd birthday!).  

Since we are starting to think about repatriating to the US in another year or two, it is nice to know that our kids will be so easily indoctrinated into Western culture when the time comes:   i.e. we haven't been here yet a month and Grace knows the words to two Taylor Swift songs (it's true...but thankfully, she still prefers Adele!) AND while Noah's vocabulary is still pretty limited he can say OREO. That said, we're ready to get back to our regularly scheduled program in Dar.  I didn't realize that 7 weeks away from home would be a bit sad for our girl, who has her own social life and misses it a lot (along with her house and her room and her Rose...).  And it is a little bittersweet to leave knowing that we are not likely to come home again for 12-14 months, depending on what the future has in store for us.

But let me not get ahead of myself.  Here are some sweet moments from our 2013 so far:

The Dinosaur Show in Boston

 Noah's First Haircut

 Playdate with Will, Finn, and Baby Bridget (their parents, J & Dave, too!)

Just Hanging Around

I hope the year is starting out well for everyone else.  I am eager to see where the year takes us.