Noah’s final year in Tanzania was an awesome one. He had switched preschools and made a diverse group of great new friends; I know he was sad to leave them. His school, Reader Rabbits, was also something special, and he learned to read there so he felt confident and proud finishing preschool there. In our last two few weeks, Noah’s elaborate preschool graduation was quite a milestone. He was absolutely adorable. And in the week after school ended, he had many great play dates with his best buddies. Like Grace, I think for Noah the last couple of months waiting to go felt pretty long and he was eager to get to Legoland in Denmark before coming to America. These were Noah’s final days in Dar:
A field trip to the smaller of Dar's two airports - they even got to meet a pilot!
At Noah's final pre-school assembly, he played a fireman in two different songs.
You can watch one of them here:
This was me...
Then he got to walk down the aisle in a little cap and gown.
Admittedly, I expected to think it was really over the top, but it was actually so lovely and special the way they celebrated these little kids! Watch this:
With his wonderful teacher, Ms. Bi.
It was a great morning that he will remember for a long time!
Final play date with Maya - his oldest friend (along with Helena, who had already moved to the Cook Islands earlier in the year)...they were even both infants in Nairobi! Not many toys, but moving boxes are fun to design.
Last play dates, with his friend Wahid.
Saying goodbye to his good buddy Quincy.
And Eddie, too!
And probably his first ever crush, Little Miss Maia.
And then it was time to leave.
I definitely wondered what life would like for Noah in the US. In the beginning, I noticed that he had the most interesting observations. After a few weeks he was finally like, “Hey, none of these houses have guards or gates!” On their first day in our new house, he and Grace also noticed that our windows don’t have security bars on them. He also asked, “So, we’re never going to have mosquito nets again?” He loved playing outside and not worrying about getting malaria. He LOVED (still loves) the Ice Cream Truck and, especially, playing with neighborhood kids outside – running between yards and houses and having so much fun. It is a different, new kind of freedom than he ever experienced before, always being behind compound walls.
Noah’s introduction to school went well. He got a wonderful Kindergarten teacher who was a great fit for him, providing loving structure and clear instruction while also being silly with the kids. At my fall parent-teacher conference with his teacher, we talked about his transition. She told me some times he says really funny stuff. One time she was describing a color to the kids and told them it was kind of a “blue-green” color. Noah raised his hand and told them, “In Tanzania, we call that color turquoise.” She laughed aloud!
He has made wonderful friends this year. Noah told me in the fall that kids really liked him because “they never knew any African kids before.” He has tried soccer and basketball, and a little yoga too. One Wednesdays at recess there is a “running club” at school, and it is one of his favorite activities. He started and enjoyed going to CCD this year (religious education) with several friends from his class at school in his CCD class as well. Noah continues to have an amazing imagination. He still loves Legos and just to play, play, play with his sisters, friends and toys. His love for moose has grown deeper, and he now strives to hold the World Record for the largest stuffed moose collection. (I am not kidding.)
Noah’s health also improved this year – he doesn’t get stomach bugs or ear infections nearly as often (note that this could be because we don’t swim all the time anymore!). He absolutely LOVED everything about Halloween and has enjoyed all of the holidays in our new home. He’s a funny little kid – always rearranging and reorganizing his room. In Tanzania, Grace & Noah shared a room but here they have their own bedrooms next door to each other. If it’s not a school night, however, you will often find them choosing to have a sleepover in Noah’s room. He once told Grace, “You are always welcome to sleep in my room. I love it!” He is happy to be in the same school as her this year and brags when he gets a glimpse of her during the day. Here is Noah’s year in review:
Got a new-to-him bike, which he is great at riding around our neighborhood.
One of his favorite things is to go for a bike ride with Far.
First day of Kindergarten at KP!
Breakfast date with Mama before seeing a pediatric opthamologist.
(We learned that the progression of Noah's myopia is advanced.
He now gets a daily eye drop to try to slow it down. )
New glasses! (bye bye to his baby blues!)
When Far got the Lego Millenium Falcon for his birthday, Noah could not have been happier!
First foliage! Sorting leaves for "homework".
I volunteered in Noah's class a couple of times a month, and loved to see what he was up to. While he often acts crazy at home, at school he is a good listener, follows directions well (most of the time, I'm told), and pays close attention to detail!
Then came Halloween. He was obsessed, and constantly asks me for the countdown until the next one. His sweet tooth and imagination were primed for this holiday!
Lost his first (and then second) tooth!
Right before Christmas, his great friend Vincent from Tanzania came for a sleepover!
It was so much fun to have hm!
Sweet tooth strikes again, that's the craziest "gingerbread house" I've ever seen!
He tried basketball for a few weeks too. Great coaches and teammates, but the jury is still out on whether this will be Noah's sport.
When it was his birthday in January - 6 years old! - he wanted breakfast in bed:
It was largely a moose themed birthday :)
Can't believe our guy is 6!
He wanted to go to the Air & Space Museum; since we'd visited the one in DC before, we went to the (much cooler) one in Dulles.
Noah had a brief phase of being very interested in the military. He still is a little bit, but not the same degree. One of his friend gave him fatigues!
His birthday party was a morning "pancakes and pajamas" breakfast with a hint of his moose and army interests through his cake and pinata. We were a bit crazy and invited his whole class - and most of them came! He's a social, well-liked kid and it was lovely to see him so happy with a nice group of kids.
His kindergarten portrait of our family!
All dressed up for Easter!
Oh, Noah. We just love this boy. One of the hardest adjustments for him (and for me!) was getting used to Kristoffer’s travel. He has gone back to East Africa every other month for 2 weeks at a time (also once to India and once to Denmark) since we arrived. Luckily this summer he is not traveling. But in the beginning, Noah would completely meltdown in the the first few days when Far would be away. Those were among our hardest days here. It is easy for us to see that he is maturing and adapting, because he can handle these periods much better now. As of this afternoon, he will be a First Grader!
Noah does not have the benefits of being the oldest or the youngest in our family – he is stuck in that place lots of people complain about: the middle child! But he is our only boy and we think he is pretty special. In his best moments. he is both an adoring little brother and a devoted big brother. We easily remember the days of my pregnancy in Kenya, when we didn’t think he would make it, and the times when he was so sick as an infant there as well. It makes us appreciate the affectionate, quirky, intelligent little kid that he has become. Since he is two years younger than Grace, I suppose he will remember less of his Tanzanian life than she will. But he does seem to have an elephant’s memory, so maybe he’ll prove me wrong. They were special years, so I really hope he does.