Monday, May 16, 2016

May 16, 2016 - Throwback to Easter

Way back in March/April, we visited our friends in their family holiday home on the Krom River on the Eastern Cape of South Africa.  It was a wonderfully relaxing vacation that I have already blogged about!  But our friend Chris just shared these beautiful pictures of our final night together, and they are too good not to share.  Chris is a film director, producer and photographer - so he did a great job setting these up.  This will always be a great memory for us, and I've loved that since then Grace and Noah have referred to the other kids as "cousins", because "when you go on vacation with someone, it's like they're family."  So sweet.  And we will surely miss these friends.

Love love love.

Friday, May 13, 2016

May 11, 2016 - So Much to Say

There has been a LOT going on for our family these days.  Kristoffer and I are both having a very busy week of work, coinciding with our final weeks here in Dar.  Right before I started "exam season" at IST (my 4th year conducting exams here), we had one crazy week where we both packed out of our house AND bought a new house in America!  We don't actually close on our house until June 30th, but everything went well (offer, home inspection, appraisal, etc) and it's almost ours.  This is a huge step for Kristoffer and me - finally feeling all grown up with a home of our own. 

So we had this going on here in Dar... the same time that my parents had this going on for us in Maryland...

 That was a very big week!
(Note that it was torrentially raining in Dar as they loaded the truck...and I cried like a baby!)

Throughout it all, the kids have been mostly great.  I would be remiss to say that Grace and Noah aren't without some anxiety and serious emotions related to our move.  That is completely normal, of course, and I would be worried if they weren't having some big feelings!  After all, they have never lived outside of East Africa and they both feel very connected to the wonderful lives they have lived here.  We are muddling our way through more frequent temper tantrums, more frequent iPad time (with all favorite toys currently on a ship bound for America), and seemingly endless bickering between them.  I have braced myself that this is only the beginning - as there is SO much change to come...and I am trying to be more patient both with them and with myself. But anyway, it's not all bad...

Noah has had some great times with his friends these days...
 And really enjoyed "Sports Day" at his school!
(I know I am biased, but he really is the cutest...isn't he?!?!)
Grace, as usual, is a social butterfly.  Hula hooping is a big part of her life these days and today her "hula hoop club" did a performance at an assembly for the whole school!  I have never in my life been able to hula hoop - but she has the perfect build for it and loves to do it!  She's a wiz!

I was treated to a special Mother's Day breakfast in bed (one of my favorite things! I've missed it since last year!) and have a true "gift" coming up in that I'm going away to Naivasha, Kenya for a few days next week with some of my friends from Nairobi.  I haven't seen them in 4 years and can't wait for some kid-free time with them!  Woo hoo!
And our Aya...sweet Aya...has been perfecting her pout, as you can see here.

She is so full of energy and enthusiasm and loves to play at school and make up her own songs and generally is so fun and funny.  But she has some extreme-toddler moments where she is just a real handful.  I am not sure how much she understands that things are changing - certainly her bedroom is almost empty now! It was very sad when we packed up her rocking chair...before it went on the truck she was like, "Open my chair!"  Aya is young enough that we know she won't remember this part of her life - but that also makes me a little bit sad.  She LOVES Oliver and I will feel very sad when we have to say goodbye to her.  Certainly Aya views Oliver as her best friend and one of the most important people in her life... and she won't really know that we're saying goodbye, probably forever. I am sure she will "get over" her  relatively quickly, but I also know that she will miss her incredibly for awhile. This transition is emotional!

Did I forget about Kristoffer?  He is working, working, working.  And doing some running and swimming on the side, but mostly just working!  After a short trip to Kenya next week, work should calm down a little bit for him as he starts to prepare for working from DC instead.  We had a wonderful evening at the yacht club last week where he had a great sunset swim with the kids and we enjoyed pizza night at the new "banda" (they've only been building it for years...) overlooking the beach.  Something we will miss about Dar, for sure!
So that's where we are and how we are these days.  
In 5 weeks, we will say a sweet goodbye to Tanzania! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May 10, 2016 - Travelling with Toddlers in Tanzania

A few months ago I was invited to write a guest blog post over at Roasted Montreal and today is the day that my specific post is up!

This was flattering because, as you know, I've been pretty awful at blogging consistently since Aya was born and the fact that another blogger likes my blog and my writing enough to ask me to pop over to her place...well, let's just say that came as a surprise to me!  So thanks to Michelle at Roasted Montreal for seeing some potential in sending people over to Tanzania on vacation with their toddlers.  It would definitely not be your "easiest" trip with little ones to come here. Eeek!  The travel time alone to get here from most places is enough to make a staycation sound super exotic. Unless you were coming to visit some specific people that you love in this place...then the extreme travel part of it might be worth it.  I think my post, the first in her current series on travel with toddlers, was used as more of a "dream" trip to take with toddlers...but once you're here and you're used to the heat and the malaria risk and the really-don't-drink-the-water,'s a pretty cool place to hang out.  

I am hesitant to broadcast my guest blog too widely for fear that everyone here will have strong opinions about what I did and did not include/recommend in the post.  There were limitations, of course, and there is no way to capture everything in one blog!  So I tried, based on my own experiences and perspectives which have been and are, no doubt, quite different than other people's.  But I hope Michelle gets some positive response and that people will enjoy a bit of a vacation day dream. 

To new readers to the this blog who might have come here by way of Roasted Montreal...thank you for stopping by and I hope you see something you like.

More news is coming soon on our relocation plans to America!  We've got less then 6 weeks to go here in Dar, which is pretty hard to believe...even when I see it in writing!

If you've already been patient enough to hang in here with me this long, hang in just a little longer...

Friday, April 29, 2016

April 29, 2016 - Two Part Two

A couple of days after Aya's birthday and just before our big pack out (more on that later), we had a very small party for Aya.  We just invited 3 families over for some cake and a play date.  It was simple and sweet and hopefully she enjoyed it. 

The birthday girl fell asleep at the table eating lunch a few hours before her party.

 With her buddy Joe!

Aya was very sweet singing to herself!

So far her twos have not been all the terrible!  We have lots of love for this lovely girl.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

April 21 2016 - Terrifcally Two!

Today is Aya's second birthday, which is VERY hard to believe.
Our little baby!

It was probably the most low-key birthday we've had around here in a long time.  I think Aya is a little bit under the weather, actually, and so for some reason she slept all the way until 8:00 am!  That is very strange behaviour in this house, particularly because Grace and Noah were ready to celebrate her starting at 5:45 am.  Kristoffer, Grace and Noah had already gone to work and school so our usual morning birthday party was delayed.

 We had a quiet morning just Aya, Oliver and me :)

Then she went to school - made it just in time - and was happy to see one of her teachers, Vicky, who she adores.  But she is always happy to go to school, actually, and everyone was excited to wish Aya a happy birthday.
I came back at snack time with little cupcakes for her class - THAT was very popular, but I certainly learned that one cannot be too leisurely when distributing cupcakes to two year olds or else all hell breaks lose!

The teachers were sure Aya would want to go home with me after snack time but she said she wanted to play outside and said, "bye bye, Mama!  I go play now!" So I left her jumping around and came back later to get her.
Far came home early from work - a treat! - and we had our delayed little family birthday party for her before dinner. She received DORA gifts only (mostly from my parents, a few from us...her "big" present will be a new play kitchen when we move to America...but she doesn't really know/can't really understand that yet) and loved them!  She also got her own little suitcase for travel (on our last South Africa trip it was a big problem that she did not have her own suitcase!), which will come in handy very soon!

After a nice dinner, Aya was not at all interested in more cake, but the rest of us enjoyed our own yummy cupcakes :)  She did seriously enjoy all of the birthday songs we sang to her and she sweetly referred to herself as the "birthday girl" a few times.  

She went to sleep with a cough, runny nose and almost-a-fever (but wearing her new Dora shirt) who knows what day 2 of being 2 will bring for her tomorrow.  But I can say this about Aya at 2 years old today:  she is the feistiest, funniest toddler we've ever had in this family! She definitely thinks she is older than 2 and communicates very clearly, and constantly!  She loves going to school, she loves music and dancing, she loves running, she loves Dora & Diego (parenting FAIL!), she loves cats and dogs, she loves Grace and Noah and Oliver and Christopher and Mama and Far, she loves books, she loves puzzles, she loves melon and short, she is full of LOVE.  And she can throw one heckuva temper tantrum when she wants!

Kristoffer describes Aya this way, "she has a lot of personality, or character, in her walk!" And she really does!  She's a funny little thing - and boy do we love her!  Happy, happy, happy birthday to our beautiful, sweet, baby girl! I guess you're not really a baby anymore, Aya... but you'll always be MY baby!