Saturday, July 31, 2010

old school Friday nite

burning skirts,basil,laundry 056.jpgedit
Last night after Jason returned home from teaching computers we decided to break out Candy Land. Ah...the memories.....rainbow trial.....Gramma Nut......stuck in the molasses swamp...or reaching Queen Frostine. We inherited the well used game from another family and since Anni is very into games these days we knew she would love it. Plus, I was hurting for fun indoor activities since Anni was home from school for two days sick with a fever and cough. Candy Land was a big hit for sure. She was particularly thrilled that she beat us twice in a row! I think old school family board game nite is going to become tradition around here.
burning skirts,basil,laundry 060.jpgedit
burning skirts,basil,laundry 054.jpgedit Candy Land rules!

Friday, July 30, 2010


Just some odds & ends.....
Last weekend we let Anni invite some friends over from her school for a "play date." They rode bikes, played with her toys, made some crafts, and had a picnic lunch of beans, rice, and watermelon outside. Anni even decided to share her Kool Aid: it was special!
play date adn bunk beds 002.jpgedit
eating outside made clean up a lot easier! Thanx Mboga!
play date adn bunk beds 004.jpgedit
Papa worked hard last weekend to assemble Anni and Evy's new bed: a bunk bed! We bought it from a family leaving the island that needed to sell everything they could not take back so it was super cheap. Stuff here is used and reused. We really do not need it yet but it was just too tempting for Anni who begged everyday to put her new bed in their room. Jason was a stud and assembled it with no directions and although a few missing bolts gave him some challenges he got it together in just a couple hours. Anni's job was to dust and clean it and then help us make the bed. She loved helping out and begged us to let Evy sleep with her on their new bed. After explaining the Evy would fall but that until her sister can sleep with her Anni could use the top as a special reading nook she was super excited. Check it out.....
play date adn bunk beds 012.jpgedit
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Evy is 7 months old!
anni and Evy, anni buying fabric in mjini 003.jpgedit
watoto wangu (my children)...they are beautiful!

laundry is big around here

burning skirts,basil,laundry 066.jpgedit

I think Mamas of young children are constantly doing laundry. If I added up the time I spend doing laundry per week I am pretty sure it would be more hours than I spend sleeping (Oh well, sleep in for the weak, right? :). I actually like laundry (of course in comparison to other chores like cleaning the toilets...not in comparison to say time with a good book and a cup of coffee). But I have this theory that stinky socks, sticky food covered shirts, sweaty and dusty skirts, and wet diapers hang out together and conspire against us hardworking Mamas of the world. Once I toss dirty stuff in the green washing tub in the bathroom it seems to mate and multiply. I am constantly washing clothes and diapers, hanging them on the line, taking them down, folding them, and putting them back only to do it all again tomorrow. Lately the clothes even seem to be "eating" our clothespins as everyday there are fewer and fewer...what is up with that? Although I am monumentally grateful we have a washing machine (even if it is old and temperamental) and I do not have to wash everything by hand like most women here.....yikes! Still, it remains. I do lots of laundry and I am sure I am not the only one. Sigh. Yesterday after folding yet another load I walked down the hallway to put the clean clothes away and when I returned I found this....

anni and Evy, anni buying fabric in mjini 004.jpgedit

"look Mama, this is my new house and Evy can come over if she says "hoodi" ok?"
sorta makes little chores all worth it

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Annikah's best friend in the world right now is Lucy. She is the daughter of our Mlinzi (guard) family and they play together everyday from when the get up until the go to school and then after they return from school until dinner time. She goes on small trips with us and eats many meals with Anni outside on a mat. Anni has taught her the fine art of dress-up, eating ice cream, how to properly play tea time, how to put together puzzles, and lots of English (including the song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which we heard Lucy belting out this morning while she helped her brother wash dishes outside). Lucy has in turn taught Anni how to shake the tree outside just enough to get some fruit to fall, how to carry each other on the back of Anni's bike, how to hunt for rocks, how to go to the duka to buy yogurt, and lots of Kiswahili. They fight like siblings but love each other so that forgiveness is quickly offered. They love to swing and we often hear them both shouting "sukuma mimi (push me) really high." A little English and a little Kiswahili. I love it. Perfect if you ask me.
crafts with friends, DAR trip 015.jpgedit
Last week Anni ran inside telling me Lucy fell and needed a band aid. Now, these girls fall at least 10 times a day so I was not super worried but went outside to investigate. No blood, no tears. But still Anni insisted that Lucy needed a band aid so I gave Anni 2 to help nurse her friend back to health. Then about 2 hours later the girls wanted to go for a ride while I ran a few errands. I let them jump out of the car and gave them enough money to each but a small loaf of bread. While they were waiting for their bread I realized where Anni had put the band aids (and of course had to snap a pic to preserve the memory). Hilarious!!
video of evy laughing, lucy and anni at veg 001.jpgedit
Here is to best friends...that love you no matter what....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

watoto chaos

anni worship, evy scooting, 041.jpgedit
After the kids being so naughty last week I was not looking forward to shule Thursday but I have to say they turned it on and charmed their way back into my heart. Maybe because I warned and then kicked one kid out for the day, maybe it was because I told them they could only play parachute games if they ALL listened and obeyed, or maybe it was because they actually wanted to learn. Knowing kids I am going with the threatening and promising rewards. But whatever, I'll take it. I am also determined to make this work without "beating" them which I have been told is the only way they will listen and respect me. I am hearkening back to my days as a teacher and remembering that following through with what you say (even if it is really hard and means one little boy crying outside the gate for 20 minutes begging to come back to shule), positive peer pressure, and allowing kids to see that they need to earn the things they want work. It is and will continue to be painstaking for sure but I know they can do it. They redeemed themselves in a big way last week and I was reminded of why I love these little watoto so. So when they came over Friday and asked it broken but adorable English "Teacher, give me ball please" I decided that since Jason was teaching at the vocational center we could have play time at our house. As always it was chaotic and I made a quick video (one kid shows off some counting and my fav part is a little girl chasing Anni yelling "aneeeka" over and over again :) and of course I snapped some pics.
So here are some of wanafunzi wangu (my students)....
anni worship, evy scooting, 046.jpgedit
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anni worship, evy scooting, 029.jpgedit
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Monday, July 26, 2010

some recent life in pics

just some random pics from the past week....

shopping for a bike for Anni's Bday (we found to come)
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women selling fish along the road
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not Target selection but they pack in a lot in one roadside duka
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and a Mama of 4 of the shule kids brought this big fish over for a gift. They took the skin off to make it easier for us Wazungus to cook it up. We made a fish curry that Anni LOVED! Then we hacked down some bananas in our yard and brought them over as a thank you for teaching J to fish. The kids were super excited about the mashed bananas and coconut that would soon follow.
fish gift,hamock,bath 002.jpgedit
and lately it has been really "cold" here......just look at this guy at the market wearing a huge winter jacket....85 degrees is chilly!
coffee,eats coast, making kawa 003.jpgedit

Saturday, July 24, 2010

gone fishin'

anni playing with bigLucy, hadija and mama, jason with fish 004.jpgedit
Jason made it back from his all day fishing endeavour. He had an upset stomach from being part of tiny wooden boat vs. crazy big waves and also suffered from a totally sore bootay since there were no "seats" to speak of. Although exhausted he said he learned a ton. The amazing thing about experiencing things like this is we gain so much new insight about real life here, about how hard people work to provide for their families, how close they live to nature, how much they know about the land and sea, and how much we appreciate being invited into their world (even if for only a bit). Jason returned carrying some of the day's bounty to interested and cheering fans of watoto from the neighborhood (his stock definitely went up after being an mvuvi (fisherman) for a day). And while I am pretty confident this in not a new career path for him he will definitely go with our neighbor again. That is after the waves calm down a bit next month and make for a more Mzungu friendly safari.
anni playing with bigLucy, hadija and mama, jason with fish 005.jpgedit Yeah Papa!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

exploring the beach...again

coffee,eats coast, making kawa 037.jpgedit
"Mama and papa, why we don't go to the beach forever?!"
OK, well not forever but a couple weeks without sand, sun, and water can really get an Annikah down (me too!) Alas, we dodged the all day power outage by hitting a new beach this past weekend. The water was a bit chilly and the tide was pretty far out but we had lots of fun exploring, collecting shells, making up wild stories (my fav involved a mermaid named Lada, a giant talking turtle, and a pretty awesome party), and just relaxing a bit away from our house.
coffee,eats coast, making kawa 045.jpgedit even a face plant in the sand cannot get my sweet baby down!
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just me & my girls....exploring, searching for shells, & telling stories
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Papa & his baby girl
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beach days make me feel lazy too....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

coffee & calm

At least for now. It is unusually quite at our nymbani this morning. Jason got up super early for an all day fishing expedition with our neighbor and he will probably be gone for the entire day. He will really get to see some local life today! Anni is at school and Evy is sleeping peacefully in her room and so far no visitors. Only the sound of the milk boiling on the stove (and yes I am writing that so I do not forget which has happened several times and makes for a nasty mess). So for a moment I have a minute with just my coffee and me. Ah, so sweet.

I just read a passage in My Utmost for His Highest and it spoke to me so much. After dealing with some frustrations about misunderstandings, annoying power issues this week, gossip about our family, running around in circles for the adoption process, and my wanafunzi at shule being completely naughty yesterday it helped a lot put things back in perspective for me. I wanted to share it because I felt like it might speak to someone else today.
"Thank God that He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a joyous thing, but it is also something that requires bravery, courage, and holiness. It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is bringing "many sons to glory" (Heb 2:10), and God will not shield us from the requirements of sonship. God's grace produces men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus, not pampered, spoiled, weaklings. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the worthy and excellent life of a disciple of Jesus in the realities of life. And it is always necessary for us to make the effort to live a life of worth and excellence."

I needed that today. I can get caught in my own head, my thoughts, and needed some Grace and Butt Kicking. Oswald Chambers is always good for that.

So, in other random but important news (in no real order except that which flows from my tired brain). We had our interview with the social workers here on the island last week. We had an appointment in the morning and Jason had to go into town to pick them up and bring them here for our "home visit." The interview itself was painfully slow (even though it was in Kiswahili) as they both had to repeat, write, and rewrite everything we said. We seriously spent about 40 minutes discussing why we have the same last name and do not have the first names of our fathers (as is custom here). The social workers were very nice though and seem to genuinely want to help us and they seemed to know a lot about the system and its recent changes. They were in no rush though and enjoyed chatting and sipping chai and eating banana muffins (and yes I made those in an attempt to get on their good side as everyone knows the magical power of my banana muffins:) hey, it is all we got!). As they were explaining the references we need I was changing Evy and in the 2 minutes of her little bum being free she managed to pee all over me and the floor. Note: Never give into the power of a cute dimpled butt...cover that sucker asap!! So other than me getting peed on and some loud interuptions from shule kids playing on our swings outside I think it went pretty well. Next Tuesday we have to pick them up again for them to have a discussion with some of our local friends at our house. And then they will go around our 'hood and ask about us crazy Wazungus. After that I think there is some processing time and then a 3 month waiting period but we are moving forward and that is pretty cool.

And in other random news (hey this is my blog and I make no promises about cohesiveness) Evangeline is adorably funny and I need to record some of her quirks! I know someday I will forget some of these sweet little things my watoto do and want to have a place to look back and smile (and knowing me probably sob). When some team mates left last year they willed us this little push chair thing they bought here. The quality leaves a lot to be desired but after some jimmy-rigging it works pretty well these days and Evy LOVES to "walk" around in it. She cracks us up as she has figured it out how to get almost anywhere it will fit and chases after us and her sister. She also loves to scream. We think she figures she can't get a word in around here between me and her sister and the constant chaos so she has decided that sheer volume is her friend. It is this hilarious high pitched scream that looks painful when she does it. We managed to get videos of both such adorable Evy right now moments.
I hear Evy now but I finished my coffee AND an entire blog post in one sitting and that my friends is a miracle.
anni ready for party 001.jpgedit Miss Anni heading to a Bday party last week
fish gift,hamock,bath 010.jpgedit
Papa finally got around to hanging his hammock and the girls LOVE hanging with Papa time!
Evy videos for the Bibi types out there:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

being best man

In my attempt to record what it is like to be the "best man" of sorts I had to include the latest event. This past week Jason's friend stopped over with an invite to his Uradi, or special prayer service event. They have these events at madrasas before the actual wedding to pray for blessing on the marriage. Only the man was there though so we have yet to meet the bride to be. J's friend told us the suggested dress code for which we are always grateful so we can avoid odd (well, even more odd) stares for being Wazungus AND not wearing the appropriate attire.
We arrived about 30 minutes after the invite said it started but instead on going to the madrasa Jason was quickly snatched by his friend to meet people and the girls and I were escorted to his Mama's house where there were women bathing, dressing, little girls putting on shiny and sparkly dresses, preparing food, and chaos. They grabbed a mat for us and we sat amidst the craziness. I have said it before: the people here especially the women LOVE to dress up. Turns out I did ok in the ensemble department which I consider a bit of a miracle since I had to find something I could easily nurse in AND was blinged out enough. I got lots of compliments on my headscarf (I managed to pin it correctly without drawing blood) but they still attacked me with black eyeliner. Yikes! I looked crazy scary but they were quite pleased with my 5 minute makeover. And Anni got some lipstick so she was thrilled. Then we headed over to the party and the waiting began. WAITING is epic here. I decided that instead of slaying a hyper Anni I would allow her to take pictures. This actually was one of my more brilliant ideas and her pictures even turned out pretty great. She also ran amok with the other kids there while the madrasa students chanted and prayed. Jason and his friend finally showed up and they were escorted right in front where Jason had to sit the entire 3 hours as a guest of honor. Lots of people held and kissed Miss Evy who was very popular. After about 2 hours they passed out food and Miss Anni quickly guzzled her sugary juice and ate lots of fried and or sugar cakes in the little brown bag (hey, I was just trying to make it thru at this point). Then they passed out this really strong coffee which I drank while saying a prayer that an espresso shot at almost 7pm would not mean no sleep for me or Evy that night. I met some really nice women who promised to come by this week and visit. We talked a bit about marriage, blessing, and God. Anni was also asked to receive the gifts with 2 other girls. After a ton of pictures we were off and after having some of the women carry our things and escort us to our car we headed home. Every time we attend these events I am exhausted but I am always grateful that we are invited, welcomed, and have an opportunity to share with our friends.

check out Anni's pictures:
simai's uradi 006.jpgedit
simai's uradi 011.jpgedit
Jason and the soon to be groom
simai's uradi 013.jpgedit a little blury but Anni took this of the women sprinkling the incense
simai's uradi 015.jpgedit
the waiting did not seem to bother Evy who quickly made lots of friends. Anni did a good job taking pics right?

and I took this one of Anni receiving the presents
simai's uradi 023.jpgedit

Monday, July 19, 2010

last minute

Even when we think we have an afternoon "free" it always seems to get filled with something. For sure this is part of life with watoto but it also has everything to do with living in a less than scheduled culture. A couple weeks back I got an invite to a wedding an hour before it started. And for anyone keeping count I must have gone to at least 50 weddings by now! Anni wanted to join me (she loves getting all princess-ed up, the dancing...err I mean swaying, and the food) and so the girls and I got blinged out in a hurry and were off with the neighbors to celebrate. It was a beautiful location right on the ocean and we enjoyed sitting, talking, and meeting lots of new people.
anni worship, evy scooting, 001.jpgedit
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Another day last week we stopped by to visit some friends at their home and ended up staying for way too long necessitating me holding a sleeping Evy while trying to help some women cook. I also got an impromptu lesson in kushona (sewing) and I got to see how the Mama of the house earns money for her family. She makes makes these kofia (hats) that all most all the men here wear. But what was amazing to me is that since she did not have the money to buy thread she finds old material and cuts and takes it apart thread by thread and then uses that to sew the patterns on the hat. Crazy resourceful right? She is making a special one for Jason that I will be sure to post pics when it is finished.

Last minute but good. Really good.
simia visit 003.jpgedit
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

afternoon in the park

The power went out yesterday which makes teaching computers at our school a bit challenging. After having some interesting discussions with his students while waiting for the power to return Jason decided it was not coming back anytime soon and so he let class out early. He came home and I was itching to get out of the house; too many kids around hollering "Mama Annikah", too much noise, too much laundry to be folded, and no fans. We decided to flee our house and check out a music concert at the main park in town put on by a NGO. The kids came from different schools on the island and played instruments, sang, and danced. Anni decided she wants to play the violin when she gets bigger. It was a beautiful day and after listening to some music, we wandered around, Anni hit the park, and we ended the day by grabbing some street food. We enjoyed just being here and being together (plus any excuse for me to take pictures).
music at foro park 001.jpgedit
old colonial building in town that is now a museum
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music at foro park 013.jpgedit
music at foro park 015.jpgedit Evy enjoyed the music
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and Anni could not get enough of the park. She can climb all the way to the top by herself!
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check out that bike riding skill! Time for her own (great timing for her 4th Bday)
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they even had a little push chair for Evy!
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and she loved it!
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Anni sipped her fresh sugarcane juice while we waited for Papa to get our fresh fish and spicy soup
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doesn't this make you want to visit? Karibu Sana!!!