Wednesday, March 31, 2010

pole sana for Evy

We have heard pole sana for Evy too many times to count in the last few days. I mentioned my love for this phrase before but in short it means "sorry for you" or in my more inappropriate 'Merican "sucks to be you." It is a great phrase and VERY needed here as it seems pole-sana-able moments come often from my observations. Post Office closed every time you show up to pick up a package, clean laundry falls in the mud when the line breaks, rotten meat of veg bought in town, ....I could go on..... Miss Evy is getting them heartily the last few days because the poor baby has an ear infection. We suspected it when she was pulling on her ears. Well, that added to screaming for an entire night. We probably got about 2 hours of sleep on Sunday night(pole sana for all of us!). These are the times I soo miss the ease of the West and the access to medical care. These are also the moments I feel like a terrible mother (self talk ie. "I brought her here and now she is sick with no Dr., etc.) But we are super blessed to know a Canadian/American family here and the wife is a nurse. They have come to our rescue on multiple occasions. This family is SUCH a blessing to us. First of all it always helps to have another person confirm your suspicions and to have another Mama who understands (she is not only a nurse (which here almost means Dr.) but she also has 5 kids so she is a wealth of knowledge). She took one look with the scope and handed us some medicine she keeps on hand to treat the kids at her and her husband's school here. We ended up staying for a few hours chatting with them and catching up and we were so enjoying the time that they even invited us to stay for dinner! Awesome people! As an aside say a prayer for them as they are dealing with a really difficult situation (too many details to divulge here) but their awesome primary school is in danger of having to close even though the community loves it and through it many kids have been blessed. Ok, back to Evy's pole sana......so in addition to her heat rash and ear infection she also has a WICKED nasty diaper rash so the poor kiddo has been pretty miserable which also equals a trying time for all of us since we have been very busy. She is on the mend though (Drugs rule!!) and even went along for a meeting at our school yesterday and enjoyed some visiting with us today. Pole sana dear little girl.

Anni gives some TLC

feeling better..what a cutie!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

first trip to the beach

It is really bordering on sinful that it has taken over a week for us to get to the beach since it is about 3 minutes from our house. Yesterday we repented and snagged some family time swimming in the ocean and soaking in the sun. The ocean is magnificent here. Honestly one of God's amazing gifts.

This is how Evy felt about her first time swimming in the Indian Ocean and the magically healing properties of the salt water also seemed to heal her heat rash a lot. Either that or that she was just NOT sweating for a couple hours. That does wonders for me.

Anni enjoyed trying out all her new sand toys
Ah, the ocean water on a sweltering day

Saturday, March 27, 2010

first week-ish back

I guess it has been over a week since we arrived back home but it seems to have flown by with adjusting, lack of sleep, visiting, and getting reacquainted with our team and life here. We also had no power for a couple days and I was hurting...makes me realize I am so grateful we were stateside during the 3 month blackout. We had lots of visitors and did lots of visiting and we are tired. As I type there is a lovely loud rainstorm pounding down outside which, although may foil our plans of finally hitting the beach later today, should also mean at least an hour or so of quiet around here. Here is a recap of our week via pics......

even if there is no power the guys with ice cream carts still have cold ice cream...Yeah! Anni is sharing some much needed time & treats with her friends from our team

We had to see the progress on the Vocational Training Centre-here is inside the school courtyard...looks great, huh? compare to the last pics I posted of the inside
looking towards the street from the school...check out all the pretty plants and flowers. I guess some rogue cows have been munching and destroying them which resulted in our team leader locking one naughty cow IN the school courtyard (the owner of said cow was not particularly thrilled about this solution).
the front of the school...painted & almost (knock on wood) ready!!!
many more friends stopped over to see mtoto mchanga
lots more visiting & giving out American zawadis (gifts)
Mama Fatima (who was incredibly disappointed we did not name the baby after her but forgave us after giving her her gift) giving Evy the local look. All babies get these dark eyebrows with a pencil. She looked HILARIOUS! (we also quickly washed it off during bath time :)
lots of visiting means lots of eating! People have also loved that we are now "nenepa" or fat. I love a culture where you get mad props for gaining weight:) Seriously most of of females friends have said that I look so much better now that I am not sick and I have gotten rave "hongeras" (congrats) for putting on a few pounds. I love it!
catching up with friends
a friend shows off her new curtains & home makeover since we left
sisters just chillin' (or trying to in the crazy heat)
Evy is always adorned with various toys from Anni's collection if we are not on constant watch
passed out in her new diapers
more rafikis visit

trying out the sling friends sent (Thanks!)on a trip to town

Thursday, March 25, 2010

shoga yake

her girlfriend. Anni has one. Her name is Lucy and she and her older brother and Mother and father live on our house grounds. Upon our return we learned that James and Mama Zawadi, and Zawadi had left for the mainland at least for a time (we think it has to do with his father being sick and their older daughter being there with grandparents). I miss them so much already but a new family is now living just outside our house and helping us with things around here (water, planting, guard, etc) and they have 2 children (and the Mama in pregnant again due in August). I had already met the Mama of the family a while back as she was friends with Mama Zawadi and Anni had played with the little girl a few times. She has an amazingly bright smile and is very kind. Well, now they live outside and Anni has a girl friend to play with just steps away and she is thrilled!! So far Lucy has learned dominoes, they have swung until dizzy together, eaten most meals on a mat and wooden stools outside, practiced their numbers in Kiswahili and English, and Anni even introduced Lucy to the fine art of dress up. Anni is one happy girl to have shoga yake just outside and we are sharing food and getting to know a new family too.

playing princess dominoes (thanks Bibi)

coloring together

Sunday, March 21, 2010

tumerudi salama

we returned safely. The journey was EPIC. Seriously no other word for it and now that we have Internet (thanks to some pestering the guys in town by J) I can at least update a bit. Warning: I am wicked tired and have no idea what time it is A.) at my current locale or B.) at our point of orgin in Chicago thus the following may make no sense, contain multiple spelling &/or grammar mistakes, and confuse those dear readers who are just checking to make sure we got here safe and with all our gear in tow. Short version: We did and we are thankful or as I have told the crowds of visitors : tunamshukuru Mungu kwa safari salama (We are thanking God for a peaceful trip). The girls were actually both complete rock stars only having the occasional meltdowns on all the plane rides. They mostly slept actually which was a huge blessing. J and I can never really sleep on planes though so we were wrecked upon arrival in the UK. Then there were still 2 more planes ...Oh Vey! But alas, we made it and so did our stuff!! And even though it is massively overwhelming it is good to be home. Once we arrived we were bracing for the worst as far as our place, the weather, etc. We have found that living here it is best to always have catastrophe at least on your radar. If not you will have too many disappointing moments. Actually, only our toilet and air conditioner unit in our bedroom was busted (both of which we are working on currently). That and someone carved a bizarre little turtle on the side of our car door. We were expecting much worse and our friends and team mates made sure we felt welcomed back.

Here is a brief update our our first 24-ish hours by numbers....

tons- the numbers of prayers that got us here safely! I took this pic at the airport after I noticed that during our prayer Anni's baby had snuck her hand in :)
over 35- number of hours of consecutive travel to arrive here.
2-number of amazing former team mates who picked us up and looked after us in the UK. It was great to catch up, see their little boy and intro them to Evy, and eat their yummy food! Thanks guys!
This pic below cracks me up because Anni's pants (with a drawstring) kept falling off. The best timing was running thru Heathrow airport "everybody see my chupis" Yep!
94-degrees it was when we landed...with 85 % humidity (Anni would like everyone to know her curly hair "came back on my head again") I would add with a vengeance..
12- at least the number of times J and I commented to each other "can you believe how hot it is here?" Or "was it really this hot?" or "blasted, it is HOT!"

11- number of pieces of luggage that arrived safely in Dar after 2 1/2 days of journey: Miracle!!! Even Evy's car seat they made us check last minute in the U.S. (meaning we had no car seat in the UK-Argh!) made it!!

2- number of awesome team mates that met us in Dar and took our mounds-o-stuff via puke boat so we could return as a family by plane: awesome!

2- number of meals provided for us by the awesome girls on our team for which I am ubber grateful as cooking is just too much for now. Oh how I miss the land of drive thru's and microwave meals. There was also this adorable sign and some veggies in the kitchen when we arrived home.
16- number of hours Annikah slept STRAIGHT our first night back- she did not wake up until almost noon the following day!! She had so much energy while seeing friends and rediscovering her room and toys but then took out a puzzle toy around 7pm and just 3 minutes later we found her like this...completely passed out on the tile floor
1 & 1- I paca (cat) that died; Pili Pili from some mysterious illness while we were away and 1 new paca that now adopted our house. The neighbors named her Mboga (vegetable) because she likes to eat the spinach growing in the shamba. She has no tail and so far seems a bit kali (fierce, mean) but she can stay for now
1-happy little girl to be reunited with her friends here. She has forgotten a lot of her Kiswahili though so we are all trying to get back into the groove. She also quite astutely said "mama all my friends here are brown" well, not all but most.

2- number of HUGE c.a.b.a.c (cockroaches as big as cats) that crawled across my path in our bathroom resulting in my shrieking and jumping backwards whacking my foot hard: ouch!

13: number of guests that "Hoodi"ed our first 24 hours back home. If kids are included it was more like 35 or 40. Word traveled fast that Mama Annikah brought pipis (candy) from America. It is great to see everyone and hear about the last few months. Evy is lovin' the attention too! Everybody loves a bald white baby, especially one with a Kiswahili middle name :)


45+- approximate number of Kiswahili word I have forgotten. I am hoping some of it is due to lack of sleep and that it comes back with practice.
3-the number of hours it took upon arriving in Africa for little Evy to get heat rash :(
5- number of outfits I went thru in the first day due to spit up & sweat
3- number of power cuts so far (but none lasting more than a couple hours so no complaints here)
1 billion-ish- number of bugs that descended on one unattended and covered in spit up bib left of the floor

15+- number of times I have been told to cover up Evy with a blanket or turn off the fan or put socks on her because she will get cold. Seriously. The kid's back is drenched with sweat and everyone here thinks she is freezing. Also, every time she cries I am told "anataka kunonya" (literally she wants to suck the breast) I already gave up trying to explain that actually the heat is causing her to cry :)

So while we are definitely suffering from the demons of relocating; lack of sleep, feeling of uprootment, culture shock (reshock in our case)....we are excited to be back. We are home and that is a good thing.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

let the safari begin!

The super-duper-awesome-fun-extended-adventure starts in a couple hours!...can you tell I am trying to talk myself out of a panic attack about 2 1/2 days of solid travel with 2 kids and 11 pieces of luggage :) Many people have asked about our schedule so here is our planned trip which I have not even glanced at until today because to much thinking of aforementioned things causes my chest to tighten......I prefer ignorance. But it will be good. God was sooo good to us coming home even when I was puking and we know it will be great going back and I have fabulous kiddos that have already proved to be tough littles. The trip is Just LONG. Like epic L-O-N-G. I just wish there was some totally safe-no side effects drug you could give kiddos that would allow them to sleep soundly for 2.5 days and awake totally refreshed and un-crabbified. Don't judge until you have done 2 international flights and a wicked lay-over back to back :) Heck, I wish I could take something too! But part of me is excited about the adventure part of the trip as well since Anni cannot wait for the plane ride. She packed her own little princess suitcases full of books, gum (her treat of choice for the plane), stickers, crayons, her baby, and some DVD's for our laptop. At least she is at the age where bribing, food, and lots of princess movies should get us through. For Evy the boob is our only hope. Wish us luck and if you are the praying sort say a prayer for safety and sanity. Next post from Africa.....if there is still power :)

· March 17: Depart on 9:25 pm CDT flight from O’Hare to London on British Airways
· March 18: Arrive in London at 9:50 AM GMT.
· former teammates from UK pick us up and rest /spend time with them for our 9 hour layover
· March 18: Depart on 6:50 PM GMT flight from London to Dar es Salaam on British Airways
· March 19: Arrive in Dar es Salaam at 7:25 AM GMT +3; teammates arrive and help transition luggage to Ferry
· March 19: Depart Dar es Salaam 10:30 AM to our island
Home. Deep breath, try to convince, coax, &/or bribe 2 children into sleeping and keep away neighbors and friends for at least a few hours :)
Anni decided to get all ready for our trip but giving herself henna with some markers she found at Bibi's house. At least she is culturally relevant (she must remember that you do NEED henna for a big trip :)

the lasts...

We are savouring some lasts (at least for a couple a years) before we head out tonight. We spent our last night with friends (who will soon be married without us :() enjoying some Mexican food and an impulse stop off at McD's for some Shamrock shakes (I get the 1/2 chocolate 1/2 shamrock...if you have the means I highly recommend picking one up). We were dedicated too as the first drive through we were told the shake machine was busted (to which all four of us replied with hardy "booing") As an aside McD's has swank-afied their shakes with a fancy cup, whipped cream, and a cherry....back in my day we had our McD's shakes in the glossy paper cup and we liked it. After getting our shake fix we sat in the car in my parent's driveway chatting and praying and mostly prolonging the inevitable "goodbyes for now."
Then there was bedtime for one tired mtoto mchanga and laundry and Tivo'ed Lost for us. This morning Anni and I enjoyed one last run where wearing a sweatshirt is actually needed and sweating only occurs after some serious working out. This was followed by a ceremonial last trip to Target to return a few items that did not make the cut for the last precious pound-age. Anni stayed home with Bibi so J and I could enjoy sipping our last Starbucks and meandering the aisles one more time admiring the sheer fabulousness of choice, variety, and ease. I even busted out some dance moves to amuse myself and embarrass Jason (I was weirdly wired and I figure I will soon be starred at for just being white so I might as well spend my last day in the U.S. being starred at for being ridiculous). I danced like a fool nonstop until J would join me and thus stop my madness...have I mentioned I love my husband? Now a bit of emailing, a bit more packing (more like squeezing stuff in carry-ons....Anni is still pulling for one more pink dress up gown that used to be Auntie Katy's...we shall see although Papa thinks it does not look good). Next we are off to lunch with my Mom and Dad and lots of loading the car.....Ahh, the last of America....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ready or not.....

My girls and my husband and I board one of 3 planes tomorrow headed to our home. Our last couple weeks here have been busy but also restful, exciting but full of tears, and now with one day until we take off I can say we are ready to return to our little island a world away. It has been great to be "home" and share space and time with dear friends and family. We have also lived it up (as anyone can see by our expanding waistlines:) and gotten our fill of all things excess, convenient, and fast. Oh, how we will miss everything in a few short months. Mostly though my stomach hurts when I think how much we will miss family. The Engstrom family had a sendoff for us last weekend and then we had to say goodbye to my brother and sister and grandparents and tomorrow my mom and dad. We have been talking about it a lot with Annikah and for the most part she is really excited about going back but it also breaks my heart to see her struggle when we say goodbye. She hasn't cried but we can tell she has turmoil about leaving as I have found her by herself in another room when the adults are tearing up and hugging. She is dealing with it all in her own way and we are trying to allow room for whatever she feels. It is hard but we are in it together. There have been many tears and there are sure to be more. Saying goodbye is so hard knowing how big the cousins we be the next time we see everyone, that babies will be born while we are gone, the wedding of a dear friend and sister I will miss, just that we will miss doing life on a daily basis with everyone here, that Evy will be running around and talking the next time we hit US soil.
Deep Breath.
Africa is where we are supposed to be and we are doing what we are supposed to be doing now. I am certain. I feel it deep within me so even though it guts me we go. Together and ready for the challenges and blessings. Our 11 suitcases are ready to go (we get a great deal on BA and only have to pay for one extra bag) :) and our carry-ons are ready to be jammed full of stuff tomorrow morning. Everything sits downstairs stacked high in my Mom's living room.... full of clothes for us and the girls, some swim & sand toys, seeds, cooking supplies, lots of books and supplies for Anni's school, many gifties for friends and neighbors I cannot wait to give away, enough princess toys to probably double the amount on the continent, and some dirty pleasures for J and me like a new coffee maker. Yep, we are ready to go. Thanks to everyone who has made our time here so amazing. We love you and we will miss you dearly.
saying goodbye to some of my girls
Anni said goodbye to friends too!
dinner with my grandparents
4 generations of girls
Farewell party with J's family
J & Jorie and the smallest cousins as of right now
Engstrom clan send off

my "push present" from J was a pedicure and I finally used it today

(well done J & thanks Bibi for babysitting)! Bring on the flip flops :)