Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June 1, 2016 - Old Stomping Grounds

It was just two weekends ago - although feels like ages already! - that I set off on my own for three days and three nights of "me" time with some of my friends from Nairobi days. Two friends still live in Nairobi and the other managed to be in town from London for work.   After some stressful weeks of work, Kristoffer traveling, packing out, buying a house from afar, etc.  I really felt like I needed some time away from it all.

Sadly one of my lovely friends was quite sick and unable to join us, so we were a trio for most of the weekend.  We headed towards "Chui Lodge" in Naivasha.  Interestingly - cosmically, somehow - this was a sister lodge to the place Kristoffer stayed at in our first month in Kenya over our first married Christmas (where we got stuck during our first African election).  That hotel was called Kiangazi, which I blogged about here.  This time we were staying in the private wildlife conservation where Kristoffer and I had our first true safari experience.  On both occasions, it was amazing :) And this time we even had the same waiter!

Over these many years I have posted many wildlife/game drive/safari pictures.  So maybe it's boring by now.  But I still can't help myself!  And I still feel grateful for and amazed by these wonderful experiences to be close to African wildlife.

Out first giraffe spotting...
Just after birthing season, we saw LOTS of babies.  Even baby wildebeest are adorable!

 This impala family was so sweet...we watched them for a long time.
Love birds ;)
I love my friends Kristen and Colleen!

 We drank a loooooot of wine. And talked and laughed and talked and laughed and talked some more.  Just what I needed!

 And then we met King George.  What a guy!
(don't worry, we were safely in the Landcruiser at that point)

In what was a FIRST for me on safari, while drinking sundowners by the fire on our second night, a jackal (wild dog) sidled up to check out what we were doing/eating/drinking.  He kept his distance and was totally calm, but that was a pretty close encounter. 

And what would ANY East African round trip be without some kind of car trouble?! It was a quick fix, thankfully, and we were back in Nairobi.

When we got back to Nairobi we headed straight to a spa for a little pampering.  I mean - really, this was THE weekend! And then Kristen and I went to a (new to me) restaurant for meeting up with our beloved former nannies.  So I had a wonderful lunch with Rose and her daughter Karen (almost 19) and baby daughter Sheila (pronounced Shay-lah) who is 10 months old.  Sheila was the sweetest, easiest baby!  We had a great time catching up - it was so, so good to see Rose doing well and being so happy with her girls.

Finally, sweet Ingrid - who had been quite sick with a nasty infection - was able to join us out for a couple of hours.  It was too short with her, but better than nothing at all.  These women became important to me during my "early mothering" years in Nairobi - and it was beautiful to find out that after 4+ years apart our connection remained just as strong and as joyful.  Cheers to wonderful friends! (and fingers crossed I make some new ones in Maryland!)

I have to say that it was super weird to be in Nairobi. Dar is waaaaay more mellow and chilled out than the hustle and bustle (and noise and traffic and congestion and grime) of Nairobi.  I just realized how much I didn't miss THAT.  Also, security there?  Eeek - I'm just so glad we left when we did.  But of course the trip was totally worth it, especially to rest up for the final weeks of life in Dar (we're at T-16 days right now,  in case you're counting).  And, finally, I won an argument with a taxi driver at the airport which gave me some confidence that somewhere inside of this beach mom, there is still a little bit of a city girl hiding out.

Thank you, ladies, for our wonderful weekend!

Monday, May 16, 2016

May 16, 2016 - Throwback to Easter

Way back in March/April, we visited our friends in their family holiday home on the Krom River on the Eastern Cape of South Africa.  It was a wonderfully relaxing vacation that I have already blogged about!  But our friend Chris just shared these beautiful pictures of our final night together, and they are too good not to share.  Chris is a film director, producer and photographer - so he did a great job setting these up.  This will always be a great memory for us, and I've loved that since then Grace and Noah have referred to the other kids as "cousins", because "when you go on vacation with someone, it's like they're family."  So sweet.  And we will surely miss these friends.

Love love love.

Friday, May 13, 2016

May 11, 2016 - So Much to Say

There has been a LOT going on for our family these days.  Kristoffer and I are both having a very busy week of work, coinciding with our final weeks here in Dar.  Right before I started "exam season" at IST (my 4th year conducting exams here), we had one crazy week where we both packed out of our house AND bought a new house in America!  We don't actually close on our house until June 30th, but everything went well (offer, home inspection, appraisal, etc) and it's almost ours.  This is a huge step for Kristoffer and me - finally feeling all grown up with a home of our own. 

So we had this going on here in Dar... the same time that my parents had this going on for us in Maryland...

 That was a very big week!
(Note that it was torrentially raining in Dar as they loaded the truck...and I cried like a baby!)

Throughout it all, the kids have been mostly great.  I would be remiss to say that Grace and Noah aren't without some anxiety and serious emotions related to our move.  That is completely normal, of course, and I would be worried if they weren't having some big feelings!  After all, they have never lived outside of East Africa and they both feel very connected to the wonderful lives they have lived here.  We are muddling our way through more frequent temper tantrums, more frequent iPad time (with all favorite toys currently on a ship bound for America), and seemingly endless bickering between them.  I have braced myself that this is only the beginning - as there is SO much change to come...and I am trying to be more patient both with them and with myself. But anyway, it's not all bad...

Noah has had some great times with his friends these days...
 And really enjoyed "Sports Day" at his school!
(I know I am biased, but he really is the cutest...isn't he?!?!)
Grace, as usual, is a social butterfly.  Hula hooping is a big part of her life these days and today her "hula hoop club" did a performance at an assembly for the whole school!  I have never in my life been able to hula hoop - but she has the perfect build for it and loves to do it!  She's a wiz!

I was treated to a special Mother's Day breakfast in bed (one of my favorite things! I've missed it since last year!) and have a true "gift" coming up in that I'm going away to Naivasha, Kenya for a few days next week with some of my friends from Nairobi.  I haven't seen them in 4 years and can't wait for some kid-free time with them!  Woo hoo!
And our Aya...sweet Aya...has been perfecting her pout, as you can see here.

She is so full of energy and enthusiasm and loves to play at school and make up her own songs and generally is so fun and funny.  But she has some extreme-toddler moments where she is just a real handful.  I am not sure how much she understands that things are changing - certainly her bedroom is almost empty now! It was very sad when we packed up her rocking chair...before it went on the truck she was like, "Open my chair!"  Aya is young enough that we know she won't remember this part of her life - but that also makes me a little bit sad.  She LOVES Oliver and I will feel very sad when we have to say goodbye to her.  Certainly Aya views Oliver as her best friend and one of the most important people in her life... and she won't really know that we're saying goodbye, probably forever. I am sure she will "get over" her  relatively quickly, but I also know that she will miss her incredibly for awhile. This transition is emotional!

Did I forget about Kristoffer?  He is working, working, working.  And doing some running and swimming on the side, but mostly just working!  After a short trip to Kenya next week, work should calm down a little bit for him as he starts to prepare for working from DC instead.  We had a wonderful evening at the yacht club last week where he had a great sunset swim with the kids and we enjoyed pizza night at the new "banda" (they've only been building it for years...) overlooking the beach.  Something we will miss about Dar, for sure!
So that's where we are and how we are these days.  
In 5 weeks, we will say a sweet goodbye to Tanzania! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May 10, 2016 - Travelling with Toddlers in Tanzania

A few months ago I was invited to write a guest blog post over at Roasted Montreal and today is the day that my specific post is up!

This was flattering because, as you know, I've been pretty awful at blogging consistently since Aya was born and the fact that another blogger likes my blog and my writing enough to ask me to pop over to her place...well, let's just say that came as a surprise to me!  So thanks to Michelle at Roasted Montreal for seeing some potential in sending people over to Tanzania on vacation with their toddlers.  It would definitely not be your "easiest" trip with little ones to come here. Eeek!  The travel time alone to get here from most places is enough to make a staycation sound super exotic. Unless you were coming to visit some specific people that you love in this place...then the extreme travel part of it might be worth it.  I think my post, the first in her current series on travel with toddlers, was used as more of a "dream" trip to take with toddlers...but once you're here and you're used to the heat and the malaria risk and the really-don't-drink-the-water,'s a pretty cool place to hang out.  

I am hesitant to broadcast my guest blog too widely for fear that everyone here will have strong opinions about what I did and did not include/recommend in the post.  There were limitations, of course, and there is no way to capture everything in one blog!  So I tried, based on my own experiences and perspectives which have been and are, no doubt, quite different than other people's.  But I hope Michelle gets some positive response and that people will enjoy a bit of a vacation day dream. 

To new readers to the this blog who might have come here by way of Roasted Montreal...thank you for stopping by and I hope you see something you like.

More news is coming soon on our relocation plans to America!  We've got less then 6 weeks to go here in Dar, which is pretty hard to believe...even when I see it in writing!

If you've already been patient enough to hang in here with me this long, hang in just a little longer...

Friday, April 29, 2016

April 29, 2016 - Two Part Two

A couple of days after Aya's birthday and just before our big pack out (more on that later), we had a very small party for Aya.  We just invited 3 families over for some cake and a play date.  It was simple and sweet and hopefully she enjoyed it. 

The birthday girl fell asleep at the table eating lunch a few hours before her party.

 With her buddy Joe!

Aya was very sweet singing to herself!

So far her twos have not been all the terrible!  We have lots of love for this lovely girl.