Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29, 2013 - Dar Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving looked a little bit like this (forgot to take a picture of the pizza!):

And, just for the record, I forgot to say yesterday in my Thanksgiving blog that of all of the wonderful food I ate when I was in America (homemade, store bought and at restaurants), I was MOST thankful for this:

Sounds silly I know, but we can't get a American Cheerios here and this preggo craves them all the time! Tasted just like home! And I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November 28, 2013 - American Trip Recap and Feeling Thankful

Thanksgiving and Fourth of July are always a little bit hard for me.  Unlike Christmas or Easter, which are celebrated all over the world, Thanksgiving and the Fourth are uniquely American and, even though of course their spirit could be celebrated anywhere, I have this hang up that you should really be IN America to celebrate them. It otherwise feels very much not the same. So today we'll be having the least-Thanksgivingish dinner possible: pizza at beach!  Just to be very different from the rest of you (besides, if I told you how much it would have cost to import a tiny turkey, you would probably faint!). 

But of course, there is still a lot to be thankful for this year. I am also a blog late in describing my trip to the US so will use that week as my lens for Thanksgiving this year.  In no particular order, here we go:

1. I am thankful that I had a lot of great quality time with my parents last week.  I feel more and more with age that I just really appreciate their company and especially because  we go such long stretches without seeing each other, I am particularly thankful for the stretches when we do get to see each other. 

2. I am thankful that I had a great reunion with my girlfriends from college - The Fun Factor! It had been more than three years since I was able to be with them for a big celebration.  I have missed weddings, bridal showers and weekend getaways. This time my trip was timed perfectly for Gina's baby shower (love celebrating babies!) and it was so good for my soul to laugh, cry and just be with these women who have been in my life for 14 or 15 years now. 

3. I am thankful for, Target, Macy's, Motherhood Maternity, Old Navy, Michael's, Market Basket, the Christmas Tree Shop, Party City. and even Walmart...because I was able to bring home gifts and supplies for celebrating Christmas and my kids' upcoming birthdays and birthday parties. I am also very thankful that Black Friday is not even an option for us!

4. I am thankful that my mom and my sister Meghan worked hard to host a lovely brunch before I left so that I could see some of my aunts, uncles and cousins who I never have quite enough time with.  My parents also hosted some wonderful dinners to help with this effort during my week home - thank you for that!

5. I am thankful for so many long standing friendships in my life...and that I got to see several of these wonderful friends, Kate, Brooke, Jean (Bibi) and Jen, while I was home. 

6. I am generally thankful for seasons, and that I got to experience a different one in America than we are currently experiencing here in Dar. 

7. For all of my experiences in Massachusetts last week, the primary purpose of my trip home was to get Bonus Baby checked out.  I am most profoundly thankful this year that our baby looks healthy and strong. My due date was pushed back to its original date - April 27th - and our c-section was scheduled for Monday April 21st (already adjusted the countdown on the right), which is both Easter Monday AND Marathon Monday!  I am so thankful to have had a great team of technicians, nurses and doctors assessing me and Bonus Baby.  We had some great conversations and quite a few addition to some emotional tears as well. I feel we are in great hands in Boston and I can't wait for April to arrive. 

8. I am very thankful that I had easy, smooth, uneventful, and spacious economy class travel from and back to Dar.  It was probably the easiest trip I have had these last 6 years with very accommodating airlines and crews (not always the norm!). Fingers crossed for a similar experience in the spring! 

9. After all that, I came home to a husband who was smiling at the airport after having a pretty big week of his own balancing work and kids with no Mama around. We are both thankful that Rose and Christopher the cook were great and helpful all week to make my absence less difficult.  But mostly I am thankful that he is such a great husband/partner/father because I was not nervous or worried about anyone while I was gone and the kids were perfectly happy and well-adjusted the whole time.  He is truly the best.

10.  Last but not least, my two great kids were excellent in my absence (Rose keeps reminding me that they whined a lot less when I wasn't home!) and were absolutely adorable and charming and precious upon my return.  I am truly thankful for them everyday, and I am also especially thankful that they are so excited for Bonus Baby.  They seem so eager to welcome another person into our family; it gives me goosebumps sometimes to really think about how blessed we are. 

So even though we'll be eating pizza at the beach tonight, this holiday is not lost on me.  I have an abundance of people and situations and experiences to be thankful for...and so, very thankful I am.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 16, 2013 - Jet Lag!

Hi there.  I made it to America safe and sound - had a really smooth and easy trip here.  Slept for quite a few hours but have a bit of jet lag now as I woke up at 3 am (11 am in Dar) pretty ready to go for the day :)

My trip was actually interesting.  The most stressful part was right at the beginning when Kenya Airways wouldn't let me travel without a letter of permission from my doctor. Since I'm only in my 18th week I would never have asked for that letter, but my doctor suggested I bring one just in case.  So I had it!  But only because of her - so thank you Dr. Belia!

Again, that was about as eventful as it got.  I had a 1 hr flight on a brand new little airplane to Nairobi.  Because of the fire a few months ago we had to walk for 3 or 4 minutes outside to get inside the terminal; that was kind of weird for me because we left Nairobi 2 years ago (almost exactly) and it still SMELLED the same.  It was also very cool - so different than Dar!  The airport has been improved since we left, which is great because wow that airport has really been awful in the past.  The made some of the hallways wider, better lightning, better/more air circulation, and a lot more seating.  So my 3 hour layover wasn't so bad - and even though I wasn't super hungry I had a full meal at Java House, just because I could!

Next was my 8 hr 30 min flight to London.  It was not a full plane so I ended up in a two-seat-row all by myself which means I could sort of lay down and sleep on and off.  I was really worried about getting dehydrated so I was drinking a ton, and then waking up pretty often to walk around and go to the bathroom.  But the long flight went by super quickly.  Only downside?  Worst airline food ever!  Work on that, Kenya Airways!

Finally I had almost 4 hours in Heathrow before my 7 hr 20 minute flight to Boston.  I ate a good meal, walked some laps up and down Terminal 4 (first time there, very nice), had 45 free minutes of Internet and texted with Kristoffer at work.  It was another pretty empty flight so I had 3 seats by myself this time and slept on and off again, watching some TV shows and eating VERY good airline food (honestly, it was!).  

Boston welcomed me gladly - beautiful 60 degree weather and I got through border protection/baggage/customs in 15 minutes to my waiting parents.  I had only been home for an hour when we had already stopped at an Apple Store to replace our dying laptop battery.  Productive!  Had a nap after lunch and a nice with visit with Meghan, Sean, Molly and Nora for dinner.

The next biggest highlight is that when I woke up 45 minutes ago I (think I) felt Bonus Baby move for the first time (at 17 weeks 3 days - with both Grace and Noah it was between 19 and 20 weeks).  It was that fluttery feeling of early movements, but I am excited to know that the season of baby kicking has begun.  We always talk about how Noah was such an enormous kicker, especially at night and even to this day!, and Grace was a bit more I'm curious to see which path BB follows!

All in all - a great trip home so far, and word from Dar is that everyone is doing great without me.  I miss my people though, but it's really nice to be here.  Cheers to a busy and great week ahead!


Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013 - Bedtime Stories

On Thursday evening I will begin a 25 hr journey to Boston all by myself and I won't get back to Dar until late on November 24th - 10 days later.  The only other time I've left my family was when Kyle was sick and passed away last October.  Obviously, this occasion is more celebratory but since I haven't spent too many nights away from my family before it still feels weird.  Let's just say that we are practicing for our probably-4-or-5-week-long separation in March/April before Bonus Baby arrives. 

My week will be really busy with friends, family, eating, shopping and doctors.  I will also have to figure out how to pack everything I've already bought on amazon.  Christmas presents...birthday stocks...hmmm...

So I am looking forward to a really full and busy week, and am definitely excited for a break from the day-to-day of life in Dar.  I always feel a bit refreshed after a break from Africa...especially as every day it gets hotter and hotter right now.  We have officially arrived in the season of "the water in the outdoor water tank is HOT, and the water in the indoor hot-water-tank is COLD.  

Anyway, I am not packing much to bring with me there (see above) so that won't take much time before Thursday.  Planning out what Rose and Kristoffer have to do that they normally don't have to do will take a little time.  But, really, what did I do tonight to get ready for my trip?  I spent 40 minutes reading bedtime stories to Grace and Noah on the iPad.  Took awhile (wow, Jan and Stan Berenstain were verbose!) but I hope it will ease the bedtime routine for Kristoffer a bit if he can leave one kid to read with Mama while putting the other one down.  And maybe...just in case they miss will remind them that I'm still "here" with them, and will be back soon.

I will DEFINITELY miss them...but I'm also really looking forward to some time on my own with many of the other people I love in this world.  And I know it will feel really good to come back in 10 days time.  The kids are usually much better behaved when I am not around anyway (I am told!) so I hope that Rose, Christopher the cook, and Kristoffer the Far have a good week with Grace and Noah...and I think when I get back from Boston I will be ready to resume bedtime stories in person.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November 5, 2013 - Bonus Baby Poll and 16 Weeks

Okay family and friends, it is time to play "Guess the Baby's Sex!" again.  And this time, it seems we will find out and share the baby's sex ahead of time.  While I would still very much like to be surprised in the moment the baby is born, I have been out-voted by the rest of my family who would like to know ahead of time (like, yesterday). You have until December 3rd, when I am 20 weeks pregnant because we don't know exactly when/where we will find out but we should know by then.

Here's what you have to work with:
  • This pregnancy "feels" much more like Grace's than Noah's.
  • We have already had one boy and one girl, obviously.
  • I "popped" in terms of a having an official baby belly, not just looking like I ate too much cheesecake, at 15 weeks and 2 days (that was on Halloween, by the way). With Grace I was 18 weeks and with Noah it was somewhere between 16 and 17 weeks.
  • I think Bonus Baby is a girl.
  • Kristoffer thinks Bonus Baby is a boy.
  • Grace and Noah vote girl along with me at this stage.  But maybe everyone just thinks whatever they would (only) slightly prefer? 
  • Below you can see what I look like at 16 weeks and can compare to the same stage with Grace and with Noah.

Off you to go to start your calculations and make a vote! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 2, 2013 - Makeshift Halloween

For Halloween this year we planned a very small trick-or-treat party with five other families - all of whom are also half-Nordic and half-something-else and were either missing Halloween or were just interested in trying it out.  Halloween is not very Nordic, so at the kids' school they don't do much for it.  Last year they tried the same kind of small trick-or-treat party, but I guess nobody wanted to plan it again because we were left to our own devices.  For security reasons we can't go door-to-door, and because we are not part of the "official" American [Embassy] community here we were not invited to any serious Halloween parties.  Again, left to our own devices.  This is what we came up with.

We carved a watermelon:

And rented the school grounds and got dressed up with some friends:

Can you guess who the two little ghosts are?!
(BTW - that's about as DIY as I get in the costume department)

We let the kids jump on the bouncy castle and eat some yummy snacks like these (note that I took no pictures and stole all of these from different websites, but in theory ours looked similar):

When it was getting close to being dark the 10 kids could go around to 10 different doors at their school ("staffed" by participating parents) to say "trick or treat" and load up on whatever local goodies were offered.

Clearly we did not take a lot of pictures, but it was a fun little gathering that gave my kids just the taste of Halloween they were looking for.  Before going to bed, though, Grace did ask me: "Some time can we do the other kind of Halloween where you dress up and walk to different people's houses at night to say Trick-or-Treat?"  

I hope one year she gets her wish, although for Dar I don't think we did too bad!