Saturday, June 20, 2015

June 20, 2015 - Fourth and Final Nordic School Circus

This year we saw the Nordic School Circus for the last time.  As always it was a very sweet way to end the year.  Noah's performed as a circus dog - specifically, a Dalmatian.  He took his role very seriously. Especially because he knew he would get a "treat" at the end :)

You can see his cute little dog act below.

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Grace and her best friend Mattias attempted a stand-up comedy act.  It had to do with singing "the itsy bitsy spider" in different languages...Mattias (who is Swedish) started off in Danish and Grace (who is Danish) started off in Swedish and then they ended up in English.  I thought they were going to through Norwegian or Kiswahili in there but that didn't quite happen.  People were a little bit unsure of what was going on, but Grace and Mattias thought they were hilarious so that was great. And they clearly did not have stage fright! See below...

At the end there was the annual singing of both the Swedish National Anthem and the Tanzanian National Anthem (almost my favorite part).  I wished Kristoffer had been here for it, but he was in Uganda.  I was reminded of last year when Noah performed for the first time (the year before he would not!) and how it was the first time we had Aya out in Dar at 6 weeks old.  This time she sat in my lap, rocking to the music and wondering why exactly her nap was interrupted for this crazy show!

And with that, we say goodbye to the Nordic School.  
We wish you all the best.

Friday, June 19, 2015

June 19, 2015 - Hello, Again / School's Out Part 2

And then it was Noah's turn to finish up his school year.  This was Noah's third year at Nordic School.   He actually could stay for one more year since he can't start kindergarten until 2016, but we realized that he is ready for a change (and, frankly, so are we).  So he "graduated" from Nordic instead and we won't be at that school anymore next year.  We had a great 3 1/2 years there for the most part and have a lot of fond memories.  He took the news of this transition well and has already started summer camp at his new school, Reader Rabbits.  We're on Day 4, and so far so good.  And we're also happy that one of his good friends from Nordic will also be at his new school in August.  

But to finish up at Nordic School, Noah was all smiles.  He is really a sweet, happy kid and had a great last day in the Nordic community.  

With Elisabeth, who has been a fantastic teacher for both Grace and Noah over the years.
In circle time with sweet Karla.
Holding hands with Karla AND Maya :)
Singing a crocodile song...
The ceremony, where departing children receive a Nordic School medal and a book of pictures from their classmates.  This is a very special tradition that all children look forward to.

Noah with his best buds, Helena and Maya.
We were so grateful this year that there was a male teacher in Noah's class. Rasmus and Noah had a great bond and I think will miss each other.

Cheers to Noah!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

June 18, 2015 - Hello, Again / School's Out Part 1

Oh My!  It would appear that I have abandoned my new year's resolution to blog more often.  Ugh.  I'm so sorry.  I actually really love writing blogs, but the past few months have been tough over here and it's no fun to just write what I feel are constant complaints.  Kristoffer has travelled a lot this year,  and every time he travels the children (all of them) get sick!  When he traveled in May I think I was at the clinic 7 out of 8 days in a row at one point.  And it is peak malaria season so we're a little bit over-sensitive to fevers and headaches, I would say.  In addition to the travel and the sickness, Aya is still pretty miserable at night.  Although last night she slept for 10 hours straight and one time a couple of weeks ago she did 9 hours.  That is a big deal in this house!  And throughout much of this there was a poisonous snake infestation on our compound, and there were broken air conditioners and cars and water pumps. So in summary, I've been exhausted and when I'm really exhausted it also makes me more homesick for America and my family and access to all of the modern/developed-world conveniences that I miss.  We are not roughing it over here, by any means, but I get a little down-in-the-dumps about East Africa when there is a run of things not going well.  So I'm sorry for my absence and would like to say HELLO, again.

These days we are already on summer holiday.  The kids finished up last week.  First, it was Grace's turn.  She had a fantastic class party, which was also a little sad because it was a very "together" group of kindergartners who had a great year under a truly phenomenal teaching team.  We will miss Miss Amanda and Miss Nsia so much next year.  The day after the class party was her last day of school.  So hard to believe our 6-year-old will be in "Grade 1" next year!  

Grace's class "Got Talent" show...she got an award for best smile!

 Our carpool crew!
Party Picnic!

 Hey...this one looks a wee bit young for KG!

Last Day:

Years down the line, when I think of Grace at age 6 having had this wonderful first year of formal school at IST in Dar es Salaam, this is the picture I will always remember. 


Friday, May 22, 2015

May 22, 2015 - The Giant Pineapple

Grace's class played a big role in a Kindergarten Assembly at her school today.  They collaborated on writing a story called "The Giant Pineapple", which they also illustrated and then performed for half of the school and all parents.  Grace was one of the narrators while other children were actors performing the story.  She did a fantastic job!  She knew all of her lines and did not get stage fright - she spoke clearly and confidently into the microphone, and even tried to help one of the "actors" when he forgot his lines.  Below are some pictures - just of Grace, sorry - I did film the whole performance but it's pretty long. If anyone really wants to watch the 9-minute video, please let me know ;) And for your enjoyment, below is also the text of their wonderful story (highlighted text is what they all said in unison).  The assembly also had some poetry and math demonstrations by another class and some grade-wide songs.  It was a really nice event so close to the end of the school year because it is easy (and amazing!) to see how much Grace and her classmates have developed during their first year of formal education.  Wow!  We are so proud of her!


The Giant Pineapple

1. Grace: The story starts like this…Once upon a time in a village in Kilimanjaro, there lived aMaasai boy and a Maasai girl.  They lived on a farm.

2. Eli: One day the Maasai boy went out on the farm to grow a pineapple. He wanted to grow a pineapple because he didn’t have much food. 

Maasai Boy: I love pineapples because they are my favorite food and wanted to share them with my friends.”

3. Sia (Zaynab, Meesha, Fathiya – are rain, sun, air):
 He took a bud from another pineapple and planted it in the ground. The Maasai boy gave it sunlight, rain, air, and he talked to it. He said: “Nanasi ota! Nanasi ota!” two times everyday for almost two year. Because that’s how long it takes for a pineapple to grow.

4. Rodrigo: The Maasai girl thought her brother was silly because he was talking to the plant and he was a weird boy.

Maasai Girl:  You’re a weird boy.”
5. Mara: Then the pineapple grew faster and faster and faster until it was so big it might weigh hundreds of pounds. Super duper, super duper, super duper big!! Bigger than his house.

Maasai Boy: Now it was time to take it out.”

6.  Grace: So he pulled and he pulled and pulled with all his might.  Moja, mbili, tatu… vuta!” The pineapple didn’t come out so he asked his friends if they could help. 

7.  Rodrigo: First his sister came and they pulled and pulled with all their might “Moja, mbili, tatu…. vuta!” but the pineapple didn’t move.

8. Mara: Next, his sister asked the elephant to help. They pulled with all their might. “Moja, mbili, tatu… vuta!” but the pineapple did not come out. 

9.  Sia: Then, the giraffe, buffalo and the lion came to help. They pulled and pulled with all their might. “Moja, mbili, tatu… vuta!” but the pineapple still didn’t move.

10. Eli: Next the zebra, swala, cow, and dog came to help. They pulled and pulled with all their might. “Moja, mbili, tatu…. vuta!” the pineapple didn’t budge.

11. Sia: So zebra asked his friend the snowman to help. He met him climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. He pulled the dog and they all said together “Moja, mbili, tatu…. vuta!” but still the pineapple did not come out.

12. Grace: Then the chicken, bat and the butterfly asked “Is it our turn to pull?”. They all said “Yes, Asante”.  

Moja, mbili, tatu…. vuta!” The pineapple popped out of ground. It jumped in the air “boooo-ahhh”!

13. Mara: First the animals were surprised.  Then they shared the pineapple at their pineapple party.

14. Sia: There was pineapple chocolate cake, pineapple grape soup, pineapple juice, pineapple pie, and pineapple pizza

All:  That’s called Hawaii pizza!

The End

Monday, May 11, 2015

May 10, 2015 - Luxury Zanzibar

Over the first weekend of May, which is a holiday in Tanzania (May 1 = Labour Day), we went to Zanzibar with some friends.  This Danish family arrived in Dar half a year ahead of us and will be leaving this June; their 6-year-old daughter was Grace's first friend here and continues to be a dear friend.  So off we went to have some quality time together before they leave.  For the first time, we flew! (Our last time to Zanzi was almost two years ago and I got so very sick on the ferry....) 

The view from our 15-seater plane
 Aya liked it - but good thing it only last 20 minutes as she is way too squirmy for that tiny plane!

You'll notice something new about Noah - glasses!  He's had them for a couple of weeks now and seems to be adapting well.  No mention of being able to see better, but they did start him off with a very mild prescription because they don't want to over-correct his vision.  His glasses are cool and blue and he makes for a very handsome mini-Kristoffer.

Our first stop was the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre, which we can highly recommend for an hour of fun with the kids.  They got to see all stages of the lifecycle of a butterfly and hold some caterpillars.  The butterflies were not as willing to be held as the kids would have liked, but they still really enjoyed it.  It was a beautiful little sanctuary for hundreds of butterflies, all species native to Zanzibar.

 A chrysallis cage where the butterflies are waiting to hatch.

*This one wins best picture!  Thanks to my friend for taking it!* 

I learned that both butterflies and children are hard to photograph because they rarely stop moving!

We stayed at a luxury hotel this time around - The Baraza - which was really a new experience for all of us.  Excellent, excellent service by any standards, not just East Africa.  The food was really good, except for one pretty average and disappointing meal - I especially loved their breakfast buffet!  Wowza! And the drinks were really, really good (wink).  The villas - two bed, two bath per family with living room and kitchenette and veranda with private plunge pool - were amazing as were the grounds, the big pool, the beach, the kids club (big play room with tons of activities and toys and a babysitter a few hours each day), everything!  I bet their spa was pretty awesome but didn't have a chance to try it out.  It was really great and we would recommend it to other families.  It is pretty hard to find a hotel that is accommodating of kids early meal times and their particular tastes in food, but they did a good job.  It was pricey, but worth it for a special weekend with our friends.  The kids had so much fun, and the adults had a good time too - every night we got a babysitter for the big kids while we went to dinner with the sleeping babies.  That really felt like a luxury!  And the big girls practiced for their first official snorkeling adventure before we left on the last day.  Grace loved swimming in a school of fish, and Kristoffer said she did great for her first time.  It was a weekend of fun memories and was nice escape from regular Dar life. 

 Vacation Mamas
 Love my cuddly girl!

Sweet Baby!  Someday she and Aya can be friends just like their big sisters :)

 Heading out for their first snorkel trip...very excited big girls with their Fars!
What a sky!

 Weekend in Paradise?  Been there, done that!