Tuesday, February 28, 2012

just what I needed

So after posting yesterday about parenting kicking my butt God gave me a huge reminder of just how amazing these little watoto entrusted to me are. Right on time.

Anni surprised me with 2 cards made especially for me. She does not have school this week and with all her free time we have been doing these reading lessons and lots of crafting! Think glitter, scissors, paper, glue. It is everywhere and I no longer fight it. When we woke up this morning she had a "BIG surprise" for us and she giggled and ran down the hallway and reemerged with two folded paper cards for us. They are so sweet and she made them with absolutely no help from us. Then later she gave us two more especially crafted thank you notes just for us.
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I love you Mama. Don't you like the girls? You can take them to hang in your room.
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Thank you for making me food everyday. I love you Mama.
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Thank you Papa for sometimes you watch over us.

I told Annikah she encouraged my heart and I think God gave her a gift to encourage people with her creativity and words. She beamed and I was reminded these moments; both the up and the down, day by day, are what family is made of.

putting her to work

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Anni has become pretty skilled at rolling tortillas. They tend to come out a bit elongated in shape but thy taste just the same and she has become an expert at picking out bugs from the dough ( a very crucial step I might add). When Mama works everyone works around here!

Monday, February 27, 2012

mama-hood in the trenches

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self imposed jail....notice I did not protest. only took pictures.

I would bet money the phrase "it must be 5pm somewhere" was first uttered by a tired Mama watching a toddler having a tantrum for the 6th time in one day. Gotta be true. Miss Evy has "arrived" so to speak in the world of hitting, repeating her favorite phrase "no," disobeying because she can, and generally creating havoc around these parts. As Jason often says "at least our kids aren't boring." True dear, so true. I'll say it again; the world of motherhood is not so much filled with warm fuzzy hugs and bedtime stories while cuddling and sharing around the table at family dinners as it is filled with tantrums, sibling beat downs, and complete weariness by all parties involved. At least in the daily grind it feels like much of my time is spent in the trenches figuring out who ate the candy without permission, where the blanket is for the 30th time that day, or cleaning up rice and beans splattered across the room. I guess I should have known that the romantic notions sold to my emotional, vulnerable, and bloated pregnant self on covers of Mother-to-be magazines in line at Babies-R-Us were bogus. Lies I tell you. Sure she looks glowing and beautiful but visit her 24 hours after birth with sagging skin and stretch marks, sore nipples, blood shot eyes, and wicked hemorrhoids. All that while chillin' in her sitz bath: not as great of a photo opp. But that is real Mama-hood.

Now, I have been known to vent a bit with you all (you think?). After all this is often my only venue into the world of Mama support groups. You know they begin, "Hello, my name is Roxanne, I used to have a hairstyle and actually want to do more than sleep on the weekends." And I do cherish these days of little feet running down the hall and all the exciting firsts and tight squeezes and "mama loooove you" whispered in my ear but for reals it is challenging and hard too. And if you tell me you love every precious millisecond with your perfect angel watoto I might just have to puke (or at least flirt with the idea of de-friend-ing you on facebook). This parenting gig changes at every stage and requires; in my experience, a lot of dying to self. Of giving up my plans, my desires to "do more" here to meet needs, my time and energy. And I am so unprepared for the vastness of raising little ones and so not up to the task in and of my own resources. I am in need of daily Grace and Love. And since we are being real I fail a lot. I choose other things over my kids and family sometimes. But I also know He is working in me and He is not giving up and for that I am grateful. I know that the moments I chose to serve and love I am learning to be more like Jesus. Because His spirit is IN me enabling me when my flesh wants to give up. More and more God has been speaking to my heart about taking real time with my girls. Pushing through my tiredness, weariness, and the outside needs here to really listen to them and be with them. Not keeping them busy or amused or from beating each other (which is difficult enough I might add) but really sacrificing to love them just where they are at. After all I have a Savior who does that for me. We have the promise that when we give we will be given and that requires sacrifice. I want my children to know the beauty of God and the precious gift we have in Jesus but that takes time to teach, sacrifice to model, and love and grace to show in the trenches of everyday. I have to sacrifice to teach obedience because my kids will learn responsibility. I need to listen, really listen (not just wait to say something) so my children feel known and valued. I have to forgive and accept forgiveness so my children will see that I live my life in humility knowing I am forgiven and freely offer that to others in the hope they will too. I fail so often but Jesus offered these to me when I was a wretched sinner, not once I had gotten my life cleaned up. I cannot expect my kids to be able to be perfect, to not make the same mistakes over and over again (God knows I do), or to "get it together." I want them to live lives that without God actively changing their minds and hearts they cannot possibly live. But to teach that I need to live it too. And I am glad He is working on this Mama.
cute anni
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seriously, though? this face.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

what is awesome and what is not.

There is no fuel on our island. That is NOT cool. Or I guess truth be told there is a tiny little bit that makes it way to various gas stations every other day but is quickly snatched up by the lines and lines of people waiting. Jason waited for over 2 hours only to be told they had run out. The situation is getting hairy y'all!! We are home bound since both our car and J's piki piki have been empty for days. We sold our bike (not wise) so we are limited. I have taken the dala dala out on a couple of occasions but with two kids, sweltering temps, and limited time that is always an exercise in self punishment. So we are mostly hanging out at home and the power AND internet came back too! Woo hoo! We celebrate the small things folks. Like refrigeration and home made fudge pops!! Now those are awesome!

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Happy Sunday!

Friday, February 24, 2012

just over 24 hours in Dar

We had to take a quick trip to Dar for medical checks and to get Anni and my passports renewed. J got up early and took the puke boat and, in further demonstrating his heroic tendencies, allowed us girls to fly.

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and my girls LOVE to fly! When we arrived we negotiated a brilliant deal on a taxi and in a stroke of genius that never ceases to amaze me :) I remembered Anni an I did not have the correct size passport photo since like everything else in the world the U.S. has gotta be unique (errr...annoying) so we made a quick stop off while our taxi waited and got new photos printed. Then it was off to the doctor to check out our persistent and pesky cough/headaches/snot nose/ nasty bugs
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where we collected more medicines than any one family should be on in a year let alone a day yikes!
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and got a couple vaccination boosters to combat the measles outbreak on our island right now. We are grateful for good medical care!
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then it was off to get our passports renewed at the U.S. Embassy
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and we were finally reunited with a tired and sweaty Jason who spent the morning running around town trying to get a replacement battery for the car we use in Dar. We devoured some quick lunch in the car before we headed into the Embassy. Here is where I also share more on the ever continuing saga of our run ins at the U.S. Embassy!! We ONLY got our passports renewed because in another moment of brilliance I consistently carry around too much stuff! The worker told us they could not renew Annikah's passport because since she got her first passport when she was 1 year old they had no way to tell that the child standing in front of them was indeed the same kid as the bald baby in her picture. They would need "gradual photographs" showing her changing over the years. Seriously. We protested saying that we had called no less than 20 times trying to make sure we had everything to renew since us coming is not a short or cheap jaunt over to see them. They never answered the phone and never returned calls but some how this was still our fault. It was in a moment of desperation I remembered that I carry around a few snap shots of my adorable girls in my organizer and ran out past security to dig them up. Three pictures of Annikah and all of us raising our right hands and swearing an oath did the trick. Plus, Anni totally dug the swearing the oath part! Thank you Lord!
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We celebrated our busy but successful day by showering (trust me much needed) and heading to enjoy a Bday dinner in honor of J!! The whole staff singing and embarrassing him was just a bonus!
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what is better than a restaurant with AC, a playground, and workers who watch your kids for you? Yeah, that is why we pay too much for a burger...judge us if you will.
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After dinner it was time for a quick shopping trip to stock up on cereals. And yes, Evy is shoe-less-the kid will not keep them on!
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have we ever mentioned how much we loathe traffic in Dar?

Our flight home was delayed meaning we entertained the girls for a long while in the airport where they both managed to snag free candies from other passengers or shop workers. Can I just say I love Arabs and Africans! I would always rather be traveling with them because they understand, help, and love on our kids! Traveling with Westerners mostly we get rolling of the eyes and dirty looks but complete strangers here play with our girls and spoil them. Our flight was quick and once again I thanked God we were NOT on the boat. We arrived after bedtimes but decided to just walk home from the airport because how many people can do that? The sweltering sun had long set and we thought it would be a fun way to end our trip. On the way back we were greeted and welcomed by many friends and neighbors and Annikah said "I love to travel to the world places- it is so fun!" and that made us grateful that in what we often feel is chaos our kids see the adventure! And so ended our just over 24 hours in Dar.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

the last of our time with Bibi

pumsika means to relax and after a whirlwind couple of weeks doing teacher training, teaching, visiting, hanging with Skuli kids and general chaos that seems to abound at our house we all needed a couple days to just pumsika. Bibi treated our family to a few days at a hotel on the coast and we were all to happy to vacate our house since for 2 days there was no power at our place...do we have great timing or what? Although the hotel restaurant never seemed to have what was on the menu and at one point we waited almost 5 hours for some juice (let's just agree that Africa is NOT the land of instant gratification) it was relaxing and beautiful. We all devoured books, soaked in sun, collected enough shells to fill a suitcase, swam, slept, ate food that we did not cook or clean up, and talked. It was awesome!
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applying obscene amounts of sunscreen and just chillin'
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time to read and lay by the pool enjoying the breeze
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that ocean breeze can get chilly so cuddling was necessitated
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searching for shells at low tide
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enjoying the beautiful sunsets at high tide
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we only heard rumors about the "sleepover" happenings in Anni & Bibi's room but apparently they were crazy!
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on the drive back into town we stopped by a butterfly centre on the island and two little girls dressed the part
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it is a really cool place where they teach locals how to farm and raise the butterflies
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it was sweltering up in there so after a bit a butterfly chasing and oggling we headed out
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lucky for us there was a local ice cream man just down the road....a refreshing snack for the drive home was in order
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and so there ends our time with Bibi Rhoda. She is missed so much already!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

spice girls...and J

Bibi's appearance island side made us take the time to do a bit of touristy things we have not made the time for recently. When J and I came here with Habitat 10 years ago we did a spice tour but I have not partaken since then! Our island is known for it's spices and they are pretty amazing if you ask me. Cloves specifically have been very important to the history of this place and it's economy. Spices brought trade and trade brought different cultures into the mix to create this place. At one time the islands here were the leading exporter of cloves to the world and at the time they were used to make scented oils, for cooking, teas, and even anesthetic (yikes!) Since the 60's and 70's the government has rolled out many policies that have decreased the production of cloves to only around 7% of the world's production but spice farming is a major historical and current part of our island's history. We headed to a friend of a friend's spice farm for a free tour (as long as we purchased some overpriced spices at the conclusion of said tour which we were happy to do!) So on a surprisingly not sweltering morning we drove a bit out of town and enjoyed a spice tour.
got chocolate? well, after some serious sugar added.
touring the farm
taste testing as we go. The red pepper was HOT! Anni and Evy preferred the tiny plum like fruits.
and these rambutan fruits. Kinda like eating eyeballs but sweet.
the seed of the clove tree is a natural lipstick. Yeah, Anni was all about that!
Yep, we got our Wazungu tourist on and we liked it; us spice girls...and J.

What Friday usually means....

Weddings! Since Friday is the Holy Day here usually weddings are planned for that day and we have been to many a wedding people. I seriously should make an island wedding coffee table book; except for the part about needing your photographs to be actually good and the part about no one here having coffee tables. Ok, but beside that it was a good idea.

This last Friday it was a Skuli ya Imani's student's older brother who tied the knot. I was asked to lead the caravan of cars and the role of taking the bride to her new home which is his family home for her first weeks as a wife. But before she was ready there was lots of waiting, fancy clothes, too much eye shadow, high pitched hollering and celebrating, eating sambusas and drinking coffee, prayers in the madarasa, cheza dufu dancing, and good old family heckling. It was a wedding; island style!!
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just me and my girl Imani as Anni decided she would rather kick it with Papa at work since she was tired after a crazy week
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lots of waiting
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everyone arrives and we pile in to go get our Bibi Harusi (bride). Evy rode with the groom and his posse
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cheza dufu
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Evy running around the madrasa
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bibi harusi all glammed up
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the best man and his Bibi
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Evy got a lot of attention which is always ok by her
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the groom is short! Or as we say here mfupi :) this picture makes me giggle.
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coffee and snacks before we head out.
Another Friday, another wedding. Praying blessing for this couple and their families.