Monday, June 28, 2010

A slightly cheating post

Our friend Alyssa who is serving in the Post Residency Program at Tenwek Hospital here in Kenya came for a short visit this weekend and did a lovely blog post about it. I hope she doesn't mind but I'll just direct you over to her blog and you can read about our time together. Whew. That was the easiest blog I've done in a while. Thanks Alyssa (for the blogging and the wonderful visit!).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to the wonderful father of my children! You are the most encouraging, loving and caring Daddy these kids could ever dream of having. Thank you for all you do for these sweet little ones. I hope they grow up to be just like their Daddy.
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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dinner with friends

One of the best parts of our time here so far has been some of the wonderful friendships we have made. Mirelle (Mir-ay) and Heuric are two people that we have enjoyed getting to know and calling friends. They are from Madagascar (so that makes them Malagasi just in case you are wondering). He is a surgeon who has just completed his pediatric surgery fellowship here at Kijabe. Mirelle is a physician who works with Rhett in the AIDS relief program. It is encouraging to meet and know people like them who have dedicated their lives and careers to serving others. Before fellowship in Kijabe Heuric was a general surgeon with PAACS in Cameroon and they were also missionaries in Cameroon for several years before that. Mirelle is on her way to attend a Tropical Medicine course in the States - it will be her first time in the U.S. so it was fun to prep her and encourage her. She is a fantastic cook and I think I proved that by having three helpings at dinner.

Mirelle bonded with Gus one Sunday in the church nursery. Gus tolerates being away from me for about 10 minutes before he goes into hysterics. This is a new experience for me since Claire and Ford were always very easy to leave everywhere but now I have "that" baby who cries. Can't blame the poor little guy he hasn't been out of my sight basically his whole life so he is a little partial. But poor Mirelle tried to handle him in nursery one Sunday and had to deal with Gus's wrath. I was glad she got to see what a cool little guy he really is (when Mommy is near by at least!). (There will be few pictures of Gus without something in his mouth for a while - he is working on 6 new teeth right now - 4 of which are huge molars. His mouth looks like a minefield - bless his heart.)

And just so we could make a grand exit from our lovely dinner Ford chased a soccer ball into a concrete wall and ended up with this goose egg. Claire hit her head into a concrete wall in Peru and the exact thing happened - huge goose egg erupted in about 12 seconds after the injury. It's amazing it can happen so fast! Good thing they are both fairly hard headed :)

Kijabe Ballet

One of the unique things about living in Kijabe is some of the more American or Western activities that go on here because of RVA. One of those things that we have enjoyed so much is ballet. It was a wonderful "connector" for Claire since she danced in Birmingham. Before we left I could tell her to look forward to dancing in Kenya and she could feel connected to one of her favorite activities from home by dancing here. As most are most things in Kenya - ballet was a little different. Her teacher had pretty high expectations of her Kindergarten and younger class. For instance there was no "prompter" available off stage to help the girls remember the dance steps they had spent so long learning so when they all came out in a big blur of pink they just sort of stood there and waited for direction which never came. They rallied a bit and of course everyone always thinks the little ballerinas are adorable (even if they are staring like deer in headlights!). Here are some shots from Coppelia . . .

Ford is very proud of his sister, as always. This little boy has watched a lot of ballet in his life. He learned to walk in the observation area of the community dance center in Homewood :)

Sadly, the ballet teacher is moving back to Ireland so the Kijabe ballet is no more. We hope someone else will come along who can fulfill this role again. Claire has enjoyed it so much and it is sad to not think of another recital next year.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Grab a cup of coffee . . .

this might be the longest blog post in the history of the world. I even had to look back and see where I left off! It looks like I need to catch up on April and May . . . no problem. Here are a random smattering of pictures from April including our first Easter in Kijabe which seems sort of ridiculous since it is June but it is for posterity so here it goes . . .

You can call me the "Smocked Missionary" or "Monogrammed Missionary". I'm fine with that. Easter Sunday in Kenya. Claire is 4 years, Ford 2 1/2 and Gus 10 months.

We held a big Easter egg hunt with our small group and had a fun celebration with lots of yummy food afterward. It wasn't Jim n' Nicks (a Birmingham Easter tradition) but it was lovely just the same. This Claire's BFF Meredith and according to Meredith Ford's future wife. Time shall tell . . .

The following pictures can probably best be described as adventures in the lives of missionary kids. This is our daily life . . .

Who needs some sort of fancy walker thing when you have a laundry basket? This kid is E-A-S-Y and has saved us lots of money with his natural ingenuity.

This is SO Gus and so is this . . .

Claire and Ford pretending our flower bed is a boat.

A new favorite past time is Daddy makes a picture with playdough and Claire draws it. She is pretty good (and so is he!)

This is what happened when Claire asked me if she could go to gymnastics camp again this summer . . .

Ford has a minor obsession with his bike. He washes it just about every day . . .

On this particular day Ford pulled Claire away from living room gymnastics camp to wash her bike too . . .

So we waiting eagerly all through April for a big milestone for us . . . our first visitors to Kenya!

My parents arrived after a long journey from Atlanta and we arrived at the Nairobi airport after what felt like just as long of a journey through the fog and rain on Kenyan roads at 5:30 in the morning. We are all very happy to see each other and we were excited to get all the goodies they brought for us like s'mores ingredients, new shoes and clothes for the kids, Barbie dolls and toy motorcycles, new DVDs (including season 4 of '24' - sweet!) and many more fun surprises. We gave them several days to recover from jet lag and adjust to the altitude in Kijabe. The kids were thrilled to see their grandparents after 6 months.

We were thankful they could be here to celebrate Gus's first birthday! I did manage a quick post for the little guy on his big day. But here are a few more. We planned a "Safari" birthday party for the next week at the Masai Mara but since his birthday is on Cinco de Mayo it was easy to have a fun get together with a few good friends and homemade Mexican food.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate our precious little boy! I forgot to mention so of the pictureless drama from right after my parents arrived. Unfortunately my Dad got the inside tour of Kijabe Hospital Casualty department when he took a nasty fall and hit his head. Rhett had the privilege of putting 11 stitches in his father-in- laws head. It was quite scary but we were all relieved after we made a trip to Nairobi and found that his CT scan was negative. It was a rocky way to start his trip but he hung in there. We were glad he did because we were ready to go on holiday and see some of this beautiful country that we live in.

Our first stop was Mt. Kenya Safari Club near the town of Nanyuki and in the shadow of (duh) Mt. Kenya. This is no little mountain. It stands at 17,000 feet! We were glad to catch a quick glimpse of it each morning before the clouds rolled in.

The resort was spectacular. We loved every minute of it (and every bite of food that I didn't have to cook!). Here are a few shots of our time spent there . . .

Oh yeah - the resort was bisected by the Equator! How fun is that? Here are the kids standing on the Equator for the first time.

My Mom with two of the youngins on the Equator . . .

There was a (creepy) clown guy that was apparently in charge of kids activities at the resort. He made balloon animals and he did a really scary puppet show about the dangers of strangers (where a little girl talked to a stranger and ended up kidnapped and tied up in his house while her father tried to rescue her) which landed both kids frightened in my lap and me sitting there astounded and shocked at what he was saying but he somewhat redeemed himself with his body art skills. He quickly landed back in the dog house when I realized these paints weren't washable from clothing and we avoided him the rest of the time there.

The kids were SO excited to go horseback riding. We thought Claire would bail on us after our experience at the farm but she loved it and did great. Ford was a little confused about where his cowboy hat was . . .

but they loved it anyway!

Trying to get a family shot before the mountain was clouded over!

What a cool childhood my kids have!! I'm kind of jealous!

Wait! What is this? A picture of Mommy and Daddy - I mean Megan and Rhett - withOUT the kiddos?

We hated to leave the wonderful comfort of that beautiful place but the Masai Mara awaited us so we drove back to Nairobi for the night and while we were there in the guesthouse Gus took his first steps!

Mom and Dad treated us with a flight to the Mara which was awesome! It was just a quick 45 minute flight away!

Then we arrived at the perfectly lovely Mara Safari Club where we set up camp for the next few nights. Here is our tent . . .

and the view of the Mara River from our tent . . .

As you can see we were really roughing it :) Thanks to the fact that we are residents here and get a wonderful mission hospital discount we were able to enjoy this luxurious camp! I went on safari in the Mara when I was here on a short trip in 2001 and I said then that it was one of the coolest things I had ever done. The whole experience is just incredible. If you ever in your life get the opportunity to go make it happen. It will not disappoint. It is just plain fun and unlike anything you will ever do!

We watched the hippos in the river from where we ate lunch . . .

Here are some favorite game drive shots . . .

Visit to a Masai Village

We saw this herd of buffalo chase this lion up into a tree. Awesome!

There is nothing like dawn on the savanna.

The safari party for Gus's first birthday . . .

He was sung to in 4 different languages by the staff and other guests from around the world. It was a really special and fun first birthday moment.

So after the dream vacation we headed back to Kijabe to spend a little more time with my parents before they had to head back. Gus jumped head first into toddlerhood and is loving every moment of his second year.

He is trying to keep up but can't quite manage yet!

So we made s'mores and played Candyland and stayed up late before we had to say good bye (again). We had a wonderful visit and are thankful they made the trip to see us.

Thanks for coming Ama and Pa Pa! And thank you for a wonderful vacation! We love you and can't wait to see you again soon!