Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Princess for a Day (or two!)

Claire's first birthday in Kijabe was a huge success! She has been planning her party for the last 6 months so I was so glad that I could come through for her. She requested pink cupcakes with pink frosting, pizza and princesses. It was a princess-fest! She was so excited and had a great party!

This was my best cupcake effort. Someone very nicely brought me a white cake mix from the States that I colored pink but only read after they were in the oven that anyone over 3,000 feet (we are at 7,500ft) should had flour to the mix. Ooops. They were a little crumbly but didn't fall flat so that was good. The frosting was another thing all together. Did you know you can make frosting from butter, cream and sugar and a pinch of a few other things? Sure can! Who knew? Another culinary hurdle crossed!

Thanks to my sweet sister-in-law for providing this precious festive banner (one for each kid too!). Claire was so excited when she woke up and saw this declaring today was the day for her party!

We had a gaggle of little princesses here. Lots of new friends from lower station. I was so thankful that we had made friends to invite to her party. They enjoyed making princess bracelets with colored pasta, playing pin the princess on the castle, eating princess pizza and princess cupcakes in honor of Princess Claire.

I still can't believe it's been four years since we welcomed this precious little one into our lives. Each day is brighter because of her. She is such a blessing and encouragement to me. I can't imagine a more thoughtful, kind, loving and fun little girl. I've been telling her for a month that she wasn't allowed to turn 4 that she had to stay 3. I just loved 3 so much. She crossed the line between toddler and little girl and now there is now looking back.

Here are the princesses (and a tired Prince) after the party. She's already planning her party next year! Five?? Oh, my.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas in Kijabe

What a wonderful Christmas celebration we had here in Kijabe. We missed the company of our family but we had a really simple and beautiful celebration of our Savior's birth. We started with our traditional Christmas Eve dinner then went to an open house at another missionary's home. Here are some pictures of the kids in their matching smocked Christmas outfits. For the record, Rhett did not approve. He said the kids were going to look at these pictures one day and say "Mom, seriously? Matching outfits?" but I think they are only little once and besides what else are we going to have to put in their wedding rehersal video??

All Gus wanted for Christmas was his two front teeth and he got them!

After the party we headed down to the hospital for candlelight caroling through the wards.

It was really, really beautful and had that magical Christmas Eve feeling.

Our kids walked up to every one and said "Merry Christmas" even to this M*slim woman from a neighboring country known for it's pirates. That particular people group, who is quite common at Kijabe Hospital, is known to be harsh and unfriendly at times. Others in the group mentioned how they wouldn't greet them or shake their hands. That's where the beauty of children come in . . . kids just break down those barriers sometimes. When a little blonde two year old is yelling "Merry Christmas" at you it gets your attention and draws you in. She couldn't help smiling! Claire and Ford (and even Gus) were great little missionaries that night and I was proud of them! When other mothers see you with your children they see you as a mother just like them and, if even for a minute, you have common ground.

I did feel a bit strange walking hand in hand with my three well noursished healthy kids as these mothers sat vigil at the bedside of their sick child. I am no different from them - I love my children no less than they do. What if this were my child?

We returned to our house and (tried) to tuck our kids in for the night before a few invited friends came for a time of Christmas worship guided by the wonderful CD Brook Hills gave us last Christmas designed for just this purpose. It has become a tradition for our family. It was the perfect end to a beautiful (but very rainy) Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day was filled with opening gifts and playing with new toys.

The kids are owners of two new bikes and are thrilled although it has been to rainy to ride them anywhere besides our kitchen. Yes, those are handbrakes you see there. No other option available that I could find so we are going with it. Not too sure how that is going to go! We have a basketball court in across the parking lot that will be a nice level area for them to learn to ride. The bikes also weigh about 30lbs each. They are made of lead and remind me of the weight my first Strawberry Shortcake bike many years ago.

We finished Christmas Day going to our friends the Friess family who are also Post-Residents here. The kids played and we ate another yummy meal together. It was a great end to a wonderful celebration and we are thankful to have new friends here with whom we can share life.

It was definitely a different Christmas for us. No traveling. No working either - which was really nice. No never ending list of parties to attend. It was really pure and simple. Some might think it is sad we were sad stuck out here in the bush with no other family around but it was a good reminder that Christmas is wonderful to celebrate with family but not actually celebrate family instead. Sometimes I think that line gets blurred a bit. Although we missed our family terribly and wished we were celebrating with them we were still able to celebrate Christmas out here by ourselves. It was a wonderful, peaceful time for us to celebrate Jesus. To see our kids truly excited about the true meaning of the day. To see Claire's understanding of Jesus grow more and more. To see them love God and love others on the day set aside to celebrate His birth. I'm thankful that their first memories of Christmas will be filled with days like we had this year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

O Tannenbaum

Christmas in Kenya! Here is our tree. I got it at Nakumatt for about $15. It came in a box not bigger than a shoebox. Once I got her home I decided I probably should have splurged on the $30 version but oh well. All I could find were colored lights (I'm more of a clear light type of a girl) so we went with those and when we put them on our little tree they started blinking at all sort of random intervals. We carefully followed the directions and changed out the "blinking" bulb but alas our little tree has a mind of it's own and sometimes the lights blink and sometimes they don't. Claire and Ford both love the colored lights and think the tree is great. They knock it over several times a day so it helps that I don't have lots of expensive ornaments on it. Oh yes ornaments . . .

We gathered tiny pine cones, added some green construction paper and dried pasta a voila! Ornaments! I also brought a couple of ornament craft kits from Hobby Lobby with us so we had an all day ornament extravaganza at our place and feel festive and jolly!

This will be a different Christmas this year for a lot of reasons. It is 80 degrees outside. We are in a new home in a new country and only have a few friends. We won't be with family this year. But so far this "holiday season" has been really nice. There are no massive ad campaigns where we live to get you to go out and buy stuff you can't afford for people who don't really need it. As we look forward to Christmas we think about Jesus and the miracle of his birth. We are overwhelmed by God's love and the amazing way He chose to come to save us. Our kids are excited about Christmas because it is a celebration of Jesus' birthday. Don't get me wrong they are also looking forward to their 3 gifts (just like He got on His birthday). But it is nice to have so much of the distraction gone this year and focus on what is important and beautiful.
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Thursday, December 17, 2009


Hi! I'm still here. I just wanted to reassure everyone that I wasn't somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic trying to row myself home after that last post about my struggles here. Culture shock and homesickness are boogers but I'm doing well. Thanks for all of your support and encouragement. I'm just trying to keep it real. I haven't spent much time working on pictures or blogging in the last few weeks but I wanted to share a few of the kids and promise I'll be back with an update soon.

Working on Christmas crafts - what is an ornament without dry pasta when you are a preschooler?

Oh how could I forget this little man? Apparently someone told him that 7 month olds are capable of crawling. I better not find out who it was! Claire and Ford crawled at 10 and 9 months NOT 7! I was looking forward to that "golden" time when they can sit well but not crawl. Just another reminder that he is his own person with his own timetable! Does this mean he will start pulling up and walking soon???
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