Monday, May 31, 2010

again? really?

I have now been to the zoo 5 times. Seriously, when we find something cheap that is fun for kids we kill it. Every time we have gone with different friends, neighbors, or Anni's school and this Saturday we finally convinced Papa he had to check it out...after all all the watoto are talking about it! It really is a great place for kids and I have hopes of raising some fund-age to take the kids from our shule too- they would have a blast! Our family joined another family doing great work here (they founded and are helping to set up a school for children) for a farewell for now (since they are leaving for 6 months). We explored the zoo, had a sack lunch, camel and horse rides, and lots of playground time. Anni loved showing papa around as she could pretty much give tours these days. Here are some pictures from the last couple trips to the zoo....they should pay me for this advertising:)
evy eating, zoo with Asha 031.jpgedit
Anni & Kasim check out the zoo. At first he was terrified of most everything but after about an hour his Mama said "he can't stop smiling"...so sweet!
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As Anni commented on the ride home"Papa & Mama, I love our little family" I agree!!
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that is right folks, 5 kids!!
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baby camel love
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I LOVE these camel riding pics...Jason are Anni are adorable! I have said it before and will say it again....nothing is hotter than a good father and I have quite the hottie!!
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Evy and I did not ride the camel but we still were smiling and enjoying a breeze and that blue sky...crazy beautiful!
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We needed a family fabulous fun day...it was awesome!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

two weddings

Yesterday I went to a wedding. It was actually my first Christian wedding after attending tons of Muslim ones so it was yet another new cultural experience for me. It was even in a Catholic church that was built during colonial times in town. I went solo since it was sure to be a LONG affair and J volunteered to stay with the girls at home. Being there alone gave me more time to think and take everything in.

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During the entire thing I kept thinking "I am missing Jill's wedding." I was able to hold it together out of necessity and with the rush of activity afterwards (including me suddenly being a part of all wedding photos...Mzungus are definitely a novelty) but this morning during our prayer and worship time I lost it. Like had to look at the ceiling and breath deeply while using the crumpled baby wipe I stuck in my purse to blow snot ugly crying lost it. The part about living here and following this leading is that there are times, like today, that I physically ache because I miss my dear ones so much. I just wish I was there. For her. For me to be a part of this awesome day. Jill, you are a beautiful, strong, vibrant, compassionate, amazing woman and I am privileged to count you as a sister. We started crushing (ok, maybe stalking) on our French TA in college all those years ago and now we have seen each other through so much; Habitat trips, finishing school, searching for jobs, moving (several times), complaining about our jiggly butts :), leading a trip to Africa together, struggling to find meaning, my getting married, both your parents going home, me having babies, you finishing grad school, me moving to Africa, God redeeming so much pain, you meeting the one and falling in love, and now you are getting hitched!!! You have always inspired me to dig deep, love more, be real and vulnerable, and follow Jesus with everything I have. Plus, you dig cute shoes so how could we not be destined soul sistas?And I am here cheering you both on. And praying.
Ok, now I am ugly crying again..... Happy wedding day dear sister!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

craft time

I wish I could say I am a super motivated, amazingly creative Mama who comes up with fabulous crafts everyday for Annikah to do. I am not. And actually am quite inept in the craftiness department . But the upside of me teaching the kids at our house and also leading crafts at Anni's school every week it that I need to come up with and try out new craft ideas. It sorta forces me to be creative and although it does not always come easily and there are many dud ideas it is giving Anni and friends some fabulous crafty time. Yep, Anni and Lucy are loving my new found craftiness.....
kids together, crafts with Lucy 048.jpgedit
I was particularly excited about this one. It is a craft for "God made me special" and uses a Popsicle stick, a passport size picture, scraps of fabric, glue, brown paper bags, scraps of construction paper, and for extra fancy we added some sparklies to make it more island like (people here LOVE bling). Like a little "me puppet" that we discovered is especially fun for dancing and giggling:) They turned out pretty adorable, don't ya think?
kids together, crafts with Lucy 047.jpgedit
next stop Anni's school.

sisters

are sweet....
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just saying....
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

when you give.....

it blesses us and people here. Before we left for the states we asked the teachers at Anni's school what they would want to help make their school an even better place for the watoto. The answer was easy: books. The kids in Sunday School at our church in Chicago shipped out a big box of books and Anni could not wait to bring them to school. It was very special since the kids in Chicago all brought a book to donate and the leader took a picture of them all holding the books and attached it to a card they made (that nows hangs in the school office here). After seperating the books out into grade levels we handed them out to each teacher and classroom. This one box of books about tripled the number of books the school owns. When we brought them in Anni's teacher informed me that we needed to do a lesson about how to hold a book, looks at a book, and not rip it. She said that it was necessary because many of the kids have never actually touched a book. When we finished our explanation and set the books out the kids in Anni's class just sat and touched them, looked through them, hugged them (seriously),and laughed about the pictures for over an hour. There are lots of things I take for granted and having and knowing how to use books is one of them.
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guitar hero and eden 010.jpgedit Books pretty much ROCK!guitar hero and eden 016.jpgedit
Two generous folks also donated parachutes and we brought one to Anni's school and the other I have here at our house to use with the shule of sorts here. It is a special treat for Fridays at Anni's school and the kids at the shule here LOVE it. English words like 'apple' still evade some of the wanafunzi (students) but every single one can request the "parasute." They cannot get enough and therefore it works well as a bribe....eh... I mean incentive. Kid's laughter is like music that recharges, re purposes, and helps me know that even small things like books and games are really special. Asante sana to those that give to a small island a world away. We appreciate it so much. All of us.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

a post to remind me....

who needs toys? A bucket & some water......
scarf adn anni and lucy playing with water 009.jpgedit
scarf adn anni and lucy playing with water 014.jpgedit
scarf adn anni and lucy playing with water 023.jpgedit
equals hours of amusement!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

field trip fun!

Computer Class 117.jpgedit
Trying to catch up about some fun happenings around here...Last week I went with Anni's ENTIRE school to the zoo. I had suggested that going with the kids would maybe be fun. Be careful what you suggest...I was "in charge" of the day. With no warning at all! I drove the watoto we carpool with straight to the zoo that morning since it would be pointless to go to school first since they were all boarding the bus to head right to the zoo (Plus any excuse to avoid buses full of loud watoto- hey, I did my time back in the day!). We arrived a bit late since I had to drive another child to another school. I had suggested that maybe we go around 9am since I was not sure the zoo would be open at 8am. But after being assured it was open the plan was set for 8am arrival at the zoo. We walked in to all the kids sitting in a small place near the entrance because it was not open for another hour. We just had to sit there and wait. In the U.S. all those kids with notta to do would have meant chaos but as I have learned over and over again people here are just used to waiting. The kids waited for about an hour and some of the teachers led them in singing and a dear soul at the zoo tried to ask questions about the animals. After we finally got in the kids were separated into their class groups and lined up. It was then I was handed a microphone and told to lead the field trip: WHA?? I quickly responded that I could help translate a bit but really did not know much about animals. You know other than the "this is a turtle. It has a shell" Yikes! Lucky for me one of the zoo keepers was from Kenya and knew a lot of English so he and I worked together to lead the kids through seeing all the animals. One thing that made me laugh is instead of splitting up into age levels or class groups and separating so all kids could see everything, ask questions, NOT get mobbed and run over, etc we all stayed together the ENTIRE time. Teachers kept reminding kids to be quiet and listen. All I kept thinking is that would be much easier if there was a smaller groups but we just rolled with it. The jumpy castle, camels (including a baby born 2 weeks ago), the snake (they all got to touch it),and snack time were huge hits. Although I had to quickly run out with Evy to get Anni a juice as I only packed her usual bread and water for her and all the other kids had all these crazy good snacks- some even had soda bottles in their bags. Obviously I did not realize field trip=pimped out snacks! Lesson learned. It was a fun day and I got to see Anni interact with all the kids. She definitely has friends that watch out for her (or are tired of her whining:) because they would hold her hand and walk through the zoo or call her name to make sure she got a precious place on the concrete to see the animals front row. It was sweet! We ended the field trip with a mass assault on the playground and then a car ride home full of 4 happy but tired watoto.
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Computer Class 080.jpgeditone of Anni's classmates....too cool for schoolComputer Class 156.jpgedit
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Friday, May 21, 2010

busy but blessed

This week has been CRAZY. Like a new level of crazy. The smoke monster *left only a singed bed, wall, and destroyed cushion in it's wake so that was easily dealt with. After the continuing water issues we had to go to the sheha of our area to get permission to pay to fix our water (that is supposed to be free from the government (gotta love that). Thankfully Evy and Anni are both better (Evy still has a bit of a cough but she is back to her smiley self). Other happenings have included lots of visitors, shule outside here, meetings and visa issues, a field trip with Anni's entire school to the zoo, and the BIG news....Jason started teaching computer classes and I started English conversation hour at our school!! Exciting but crazy around here. Here are some picture highlights of the week....
fire, wanafunzi 020.jpgedit
fist bumps are BIG at our shule
evy sick, girls eating outside 004.jpgedit photographic evidence of happy, healthy, & sweet baby girl
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Anni loves wearing a scarf like Mama
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First computer trial class!! Jason has had some ups and downs so far...(Major Up..After a warning everyone has come on time and seems to really love learning about computers...Major Down...few people have even mastered using the mouse as of yet). Definitely a learning experience...for ALL involved!

*as an aside I am not sure what will happen to my poor hubby when LOST ends next week. It has been his favorite TV show of all time and is even more fun when viewed as a bootleg copy snug under your net on your very own island with bizarre happenings. J keeps lamenting in a continual countdown....."only 2 more hours of Lost ever" Pole sana for J!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

some excitement

So,we had a fire at our house today. Everyone is completely fine asante sana Jesus!! And since really nothing much is damaged and I cannot stop laughing about said incident I have to record it lest I ever forget that there is NEVER a dull moment in living here. I guess a fire is not the first thing that comes to mind when you say funny but the whole situation is just another reminder that 1. God is always in control and 2. crazy stuff happens here.

After another crazy busy day Jason and some of the workers from our school were welding our gate (after some unfortunate run-ins with bikes it had busted). They had plugged in the welder thru a window in our spare room and stretched an extension cord to the gate outside. Jason had left to go run an errand and the workers were continuing fixing the gate (and soon a bike that needed attention as well). I was inside preparing my lesson for our lil' shule when Evy; still in her nasty-cold-neediness wanted to nurse yet again. The power cut but I thought nothing of it since that happens all the time here. I was sitting and nursing her when all of a sudden one of the workers vaulted himself over our outside railing and ran inside. He was screaming "moshi" (smoke). Not good. About 10 seconds later smoke was filling the hallway and Marta and another woman with me started suggesting (in a yelling freaked out way) for me to leave with Anni and the baby. I ran outside (boob NOT put away but covered by an upset Evy). As soon as we got outside we saw the smoke pouring out the bedroom window. Our guard's family was outside and Mama quickly ran inside her house and grabbed her sleeping little girl by the arm and dragged her outside (the poor girl did not even cry after being awoken and drug outside...the kids here are SOO hardcore!). We all watched and listened to a play by play with the workers hollering back and forth about what was happening inside. What I could discern is that Marta and the worker inside were stomping the fire out (don't ask me how they did that barefoot). I felt helpless outside but was not chancing the watotos safety by investigating. After just a few minutes the smoke had dissipated and they came outside to report that the wire had been overloaded some how and sparked a foam cushion we had under the bed. After surveying the room it really was a miracle that nothing else caught fire as there was a mosquito net, sheets, pillows, curtains, etc all within inches. God is good. The wall was singed and the floor and foam cushion were a complete mess. Our hero had some very minor burns on his hands but other than that no causalities (except of course the foam cushion which was burned beyond recognition). I guess the power tripped since it was overloaded and since the extension cord was sub par it sparked. The craziest part was everyone else seemed completely unphased by what had just happened. Marta just continued moping the floor and the workers suggested they get a generator from the site to finish the welding since the plug and extension cord thing was not working out so well (ya think?). The little girl just crawled back to bed to finish her nap. Jason arrived home a couple minutes later to a chaotic scene. Our house still smells of smoke but shule went on as planned with the kids arriving and wanting to hear the story of the fire at the Wazungus house. Ah, maisha kama kawaida (life as usual) with some minor excitement thrown in.
fire, wanafunzi 010.jpgedit said cushion....
fire, wanafunzi 002.jpgedit the culprit...
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Monday, May 17, 2010

survival mode

We are surviving today. A nasty cold/fever/tummy upset bug has struck our house hard and both Anni and Evy are recovering, or trying to. Anni is better today and was able to head to school. Thank you Jesus because honestly I do not think I could have done another day with both home and sick and whiny (me included...in the whiny part). Can I just say baby colds are the absolute worst! After another night with Evy waking every 1-2 hours I am just trying to survive. Jason is teaching the first computer class at the vocational training school as I type: Yeah! But boo! for me home alone with sickies. Poor Evy has such a bad cough that she only fell asleep on my chest last night after hours of waking her self up. And to add insult to injury a dudu must have gotten in our net last night since she has about 6 bug bites all over her arms and head. So right now massive quantities of snot is the enemy and we will not be taken down......just look at my smiley but snotty little girl.....
evy sick, girls eating outside 022.jpgedit
She is trying so hard to be happy but a smile is usually followed by a "Oh Yeah, I feel like crap" cry and nuzzle. Pole!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Evy right now

evy at 5 months 005.jpgedit
Evy is definitely a second child. By this time in Annikah's little life there were at least 2,000 pictures of her. I admittedly am a slacker and am trying to repent and capture some of the adorable-ness that is Evy Imani right now. She is almost 5 months and just started eating rice cereal and bananas and she LOVES to eat (definitely fits in around here!) She is sleeping better as well, only waking up once or twice a night for a short time which is life-giving let me tell you. Evangeline is known around these parts as Imani since everyone loves her Kiswahili name and few people have even tried to say her English one. Jason and I both commented the other night that this is when it gets really good. Not that I do not love little babies but honestly it is rough for me and this age is just amazing. The interaction, the feedback, the little personality forming. I just love it. Evy smiles so much and lovse her sister. Anni was way more serious and you really had to do something worthy of her smile but Evy is so friendly to everyone and loves to smile. People are always saying "anacheka" (she is laughing) when she busts a sweet smile out. Seriously, is there anything better than a baby smile?
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Please don't grow little girly!!
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

a wednesday at Anni's school

looks something like this....
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put your shoes away when you enter the classroom
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sit with friends to talk about the weather, day of the week and review the rules (one is "no beating each other" and one is "no crying" -I think the later is because of Anni :)
Then sing lots of songs together!
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some great class photos I took last week...doesn't the school look great?
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After an hour or so of English, singing & math it is chai time....
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one of Anni's favorite parts of the day because all the kids trade food & share (fruit snacks are a big bargaining chip!)
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clean up time
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once a week I lead a craft time and right now we are doing a project each week based on creation
Eden School Watoto Outside 008.jpgedit
on the 1st day God created the darkness and the light, the 2nd day He seperated the water and the sky, and the 3rd day He made things to grow on the dry land
Eden School Watoto Outside 001.jpgediteven Evy helps out
on the 4th day God created the sun, moon, & stars
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on the 5th day He created the birds & fish
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then on the 6th day He created animals & people....
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always lots of interested watoto peering through the window on craft day...
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