Thursday, December 31, 2015

December 31, 2015 - More Like Yoda

As we close out 2015, let's evaluate my resolutions from last year.  They were the following:

  • blogging: I actually blogged even LESS in 2015! Eek! Something about sleep deprivation and 3 busy kids.  Sadly, I'm just not good at blogging anymore. 
  • sleeping: Aya worked against me on this one.  It is only in the last two months that I have started to sometimes get more than 4 or 5 hours of sleep at night!
  • exercising: Towards the end of the year I did find an exercise program that I like and hope to become more consistent at doing it in 2016.  In general, I wish we lived somewhere where I felt safe to walk outside at any time because when I lived in NYC / DC that was a huge part of my physical fitness.  
  • problem solving:  I think this one is a draw. I think I problem-solved just fine but maybe not amazingly.  As in, we still have a toddler who doesn't sleep through the night so I certainly didn't figure that one out!
  • patient: I was a little bit more patient (with my children), but this area still needs improvement.
  • productive:
  • kind:  I hope so.
  • "in the moment":  I did not improve nearly enough in this area.  Must try harder.  Although Yoda says, "Try not.  Do or do not.  There is no try."  So I guess this year, "More like Yoda, I must become."
  • complaining: Um, let's give this one a re-do as well.
  • time-wasting: given that I was not very productive in 2015, I guess this was not successful.
  • internet-ing: a slight improvement (as evidenced by my lack of blogging) this year.
  • tired: "That's a negative, Ghost Rider."  Here's hoping 2016 is the year! 
  • far away from our families: Nope.  Not this year.  
  • whiny: Let's go with this...yes, I am less whiny than I used to be (because I had to improve somewhere, right!?).
  • distracted: Well, if I really think about I would say that I...oh look at that cute puppy...
Overall, I still really like my "resolutions", or challenges, from last year and think I'll stick with them again this year.  With my super silly family (see below) by my side, I should be set up for success!  I always want to be a better mother, wife, friend, sister, and daughter than I am...but I think this year maybe that will start with being a better self.  I am not known for making time for myself and perhaps this is where I have been going wrong all these years. In 2016, I will aim to be kind and generous to (and forgiving of) ME this year and hope that trickles down to those I love.  Something about putting on the oxygen mask before helping those around you...

The real news of today is that we were woken up at 2:30 am with the sad news that Kristoffer's Team Assistant at work (more than a secretary) died unexpectedly last night.  She was 39 years old and had a heart attack that she did not survive.  He had a great working relationship with her and will miss her very much.  It is very difficult news on a day like today, when we are naturally a bit more reflective of the past and hopeful for the future.  We are reminded not to take our lives or our loved ones for granted.  We should live each day as if it were a new year - with all the hope and resolve and joy we can bring to it.  In honor of her, that's what I will try to do.

I wish everyone still hanging on to this blog - although I realize you might be down to your last finger holding on (thank you for that!) - a very happy and healthy new year full of the things that will make you the best you!

Happy New Year!

Christmas Card Outtakes... 
(the original idea was to photograph a snowball the absence of a professional photographer, we opted for the timer on our camera but never quite got one that showed all of our faces at the same time)

 (This one below was almost it!)

The Finalists...
(we gave up on the snowball fight and opted for my photographer friend's advice to give everyone an assigned spot and then run into it while the timer went...sort of like a game to get everyone laughing)

And, this year's winner...
(big thanks to Omar Gonzalaz Photography for the advice and touch ups!)

Friday, December 25, 2015

December 25, 2015 - God Jul! Merry Christmas!

What did Christmas look like for the Welsiens in Dar es Salaam?  A little bit like this...

Building (and eating, in Aya's case) gingerbread houses...
cookies for Santa were also being baked during this time :)

 Finishing up two Danish Christmas calendars (TV series from Denmark)...
 While waiting for Santa, Aya got her "rock" on...
 Grace & Noah worked very hard to sort and organize presents properly yesterday.  Too bad they were finished by 11:00 am and couldn't open anything until 5:30 pm!
 After lunch...diving into those gingerbread houses!

There was no Christmas Eve mass here, so yesterday we quietly spent a few minutes on our own in church.  I read the Christmas story from a children's Bible and we offered our gratitude for the many blessings in our life; Grace and Noah were quick to wish Jesus a Happy Birthday.  Then we visited our friends' house for a few minutes to say Merry Christmas!
 Santa Claus made an appearance...Noah was a sweet boy playing along (although he says he knew it was John Henry's Dad) but Grace felt a little bit embarrassed (since she knew he wasn't the REAL Santa...).  Aya, on the other hand...well, let's just say this is the first time we have a classic American picture with a crying baby on Santa's lap.  

For dinner, since we're on our own and not making a HUGE holiday meal just for us, everyone got to choose something they wanted to eat.  Grace chose bruschetta.  Noah and Far both chose "risengrul". Mama chose stuffed mushrooms and "ris a la mande" for dessert.  Aya tried everything!  So here is our very non-traditional dinner that was super lovely anyway...even though Noah could absolutely not wait to be finished!

Then came my favorite moment.  Our small candle-lit tree!  It always surprises me how beautiful it can be with those candles!  And Aya LOVED walking around holding hands and singing.  It was so sweet and I tried really hard not to cry...but a few tears betrayed me so that Grace shouted, "Why are you crying, Mama?!?!"  Oh, my sweet daughter...some day when you have a family of your own and they are all holiday hands walking around the Christmas tree singing "Silent Night"...then you will understand.  When your heart is so full, you sometimes have to shed a few tears to make space.

Opening gifts was awesome.  Grace and Noah both got the things they wanted the most: a Furby and Ninjago Lego for Grace, the Lego Pirate Ship and Playmobil pirate ships for Noah, among many other generous and fun presents.  Aya was just adorable playing with her new baby and baby-gear.  She also got a Lego Duplo House that she really likes.  It was a fun night and we couldn't believe how late everyone stayed up!  Big kids didn't leave their note to Santa until almost 9:00 pm!  

They woke up to this display - Santa had in fact come during the night! The big surprise was that he left us a box of cat food...he must have known that we ran out.  (Note that we don't officialy have a cat, but there is one on our compound who wishes she was ours...and we do feed her.)  

Santa brought skateboards with safety gear for Grace and Noah, as well as a cool new game, Minion Movie, and microscope for the whole family.  Aya, our cat lover, got a toy cat house with 5 cats and a new backpack for starting her pre-school morning program in January!  

Today it has been build, play, build, play, eat a little, build, play, etc. 

It is hot outside and quiet inside, and despite being "alone" this Christmas we're all feeling pretty happy as 2015 comes to a close.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Decembe 21, 2015 - Noah's Christmas Celebration

Two Fridays ago, Noah's school had their big Christmas celebration to close out the first term of the school year.  The children had practiced all kinds of Christmas songs for singing to the parents and it was very sweet.  It was also VERY hot.  Eek.

Then they had planned a really big Christmas fair to raise money for the children's cancer ward at a local hospital. The older children and many different parents as well had prepared stalls with Christmas games and activities for everyone to participate in.  And Santa Claus visited (very popular!) and there were lots of raffle prizes.  It was their first time doing such a fair and it was a very big success!  But was VERY hot!

Here are a few snapshots...sadly I didn't get good video of Noah singing (although he was so enthusiastic) because there was another child blocking him almost completely from my view.  Bummer!

(You'll notice in the pictures below the youngest two grades don't wear uniforms, but the "primary school" students do wear uniforms.)

 He loved singing all the Christmas songs! Rudolph is his favorite :)
 This was Noah's face the exact moment that Santa Claus arrived...I love that I caught it (although a bit fuzzy)!

 At a cookie decorating stall.  He takes his cookie decorating very seriously!

 We won a raffle basket!  So much fun!

This was a great day to help Noah feel more connected to both his school and the Christmas holiday.  It was a big thrill for him that Far took the morning off from work to be there!