Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Back From Buj

No word from me for awhile. I have lots of sweet pictures and always lots to say but it seems that time "keeps on slipping slipping slipping into the future". The day after Christmas the Ali crew hopped on a quick puddle jumper plane and 30 minutes later we landed in Bujumbura, Burundi. I have regional travel down to Buj to help cover the health unit so this was a work trip for me. Last time I went I left the boys at home - this time, I drug them along. I booked us into a great hotel right on the lake with a little kids pool, a playground and plenty of sand to dig in (thanks K for the garden tools - all the kids at the hotel loved them!)

It was so nice to come back to the hotel and be able to see E and O. It made the idea of having to do this travel every month a little more easy to swallow. Buj is known for LakeTanganyika - this amazing deep water lake right outside the city. While I worked like a mad-woman, Eric and O got to play in the sand, swim in the pool and hang out together.

Orion loving the playground.

Can you believe that he climbed up this ladder all by himself - these steps roll and this is a steep ladder. This child has no fear.

Windy beach time

Yogurt cups make great sand toys.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is a big deal in my family...a really big deal. It involves lots of family, friends, friends of friends, family that are friends and friends that are family. My grandma used to host until a few years ago when my mom took over. Its a really open evening - potluck style with few changes year to year. Lately there is always some sort of game or group activity and a "grown-up" ornament exchange.

I love the party on Christmas Eve cause you never really know who is going to show up. Sure, there are the regulars but there always seems to be some extended family friend or co-worker in the midst. It's a really nice way to meet new folks and re-connect with ones you only see once a year.

Being far away this year makes it a bittersweet time. But you know how that is - if we were in the States it would seem like a bigger deal to miss it - being in Africa seems like a pretty good excuse. This morning we went to a church that sponsors about 300 orphans. From what I understand the kids live with "foster" families at night but during the day they are on their own. We went and helped deliver all the toys for tots donations that the Marines had collected. It was a wonderful way to reconnect with the spirit of the holidays. We hung out with the kids for a couple of hours - watched them get their toys and ohhhed and ahhhed over each thing.
We bought ten locally made soccer balls. They are fantastic things made out of some kind of dried leaf and then packed together tightly into a ball shape and tied up with string. I know that the balls were not as flashy as some of the other donated toys but I know they last a long time and I know that kids here LOVE soccer.
Anyways, here's wishing you nothing but a heart full of peace and love tonight, tomorrow and always. We love and miss you all xo S E O Eric passing out candy canes...The three cutest boys in the bunch!
A mass of clapping singing kids - including O boy - if you look hard you can see him!

Before the chaos.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mont Choisy Beach

I just had to revisit our most recent vacation a little bit more. It was so short - with a day of travel on each end we really only had 4 days to play. What was I thinking? I almost called up my boss and extended it for another week - I should have!

The closest beach to our little apartment was a 13 minute walk away. It is called Mont Choisy Beach and it is a really wide open public beach. The water was warm and blue and exactly what you think a tropical beach should look like. Shallow and wide open - no seaweed or coral. Super family and kid friendly. We spent more then a few hours having cocktails on a lounger watching the kids play and reconnecting. My one true love - can you believe its been 12 years?

Willy, Chris and Tallo

We tried to get O to lay down with the rest of the boys but he wantd nothing to do with it. He loved the sand and the beach and kept calling it "big pool" "big pool". Pretty sure the Indian Ocean is one of the biggest "pools" around.
Two good friends!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ho Ho Ho

It's true...Santa can find you anywhere in the world! The embassy had a big Christmas party yesterday. It was a sweet reminder of how friends really make celebrations special. There were about 20 different kinds of cookies and Santa ho ho ho'd his way down the stairs to be met by a mob of excited children.
Excited to read his new "big truck" book
O had no fear of Santa - he waited at the bottom of the stairs until his name was called and then he marched straight up to Santa and climbed up on his lap. He looked at him a little hesitantly but then decided he was ok and started chatting him up.
See the mob of kids and see O waiting at the bottom step for his name to be called!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mauritius Melrose Place

The little apartment that Chris rented for us in the North end of the island was like a tropical version of Melrose Place. There was this pool deck area surrounded by apartments with doors that all opened up into the common area. It was not uncommon to come back to the apartment and find a large group of folks sitting around - chatting and having cocktails. I think O was the only kid in the place and everyone loved saying hi and hanging out with him. Eric and Roxy - taken from our 2nd floor apartment.

Island Life

Our holiday to Mauritius is over and it was exactly what this girl needed. From Rwanda there are 2 ways to get to the island - either you fly through Nairobi or you fly through Johannesburg. We chose to fly through Nairobi as their flights were more conveienvent - but don't get fooled into thinking anything is easy. The total flight time from Kigali to Mauritius is about 5 hours but and this is a ginormous travel time is about 12 hours. Ack! We talked about leaving the airport in Nairobi and exploring a little but you have to get a visa and you have to go back through security and and just seemed like too much work. So we hung out in the airport - the saving grace is that they have a kids play room with all sorts of toys and bikes and run around space. Orion loved it! We made it to Mauritius in time to see the sun set.

Our friend Chris set us up in a little apartment with a kitchen and two bedrooms - it was perfect. We met up every morning to spend the days together. We spent lots of time on the beach playing catch up and watching the kids play. Chris and Amanda have two children - Roxy who is 8 and Willy who is 2 1/2. Eric and I met Chris and Amanda during our time in Guyana.
Our first morning we went to breakfast in Grand Baie - a little village in the North of the island about 5 minutes from our apartment. It was right on the marina with an amazing view of the boats coming and going.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Anniversary MB and Bill!

We love you guys a ton and wish you a lifetime of peace and happiness. xoxo S E O

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Crazy Beautiful

What are these and why are they so beautiful?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kigali Strolling

In the middle of Kigali there is this wide open space. It has a path all the way around it and some really beautifully landscaped areas. Not sure what it is - have not seen any signs and my co-worker says its just a place to walk. Last weekend we took a drive to check it out a little closer.
View of another of the thousand hills that makes up this land

Orion running...such an active kid
Sign on the side of the road by this park that talks about preventing malaria - I never noticed the huge metal mossy with the ghostbusters sign through it!

Old scarred tree

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Easy Sunday Morning

With a two year old I am up early - most days around 6am and of course this includes weekends. On weekend mornings Orion and I check out the garden to see if there are weeds we can pull or produce to pick. This morning the weather was beautiful for hanging out in the backyard. We picked lettuce, arugula, helped train the cucumbers to climb the trellis and Eric counted limes. I know I posted a picture of this big read tropical beauty before but it has gotten so much bigger. I will see if I can find the first picture and compare the two.

14 hours until we leave for the airport - 6am in Nairobi 6pm in Mauritius. See you in a week.
One of our tallest lettuce plants - it really should be cut down but who knew a lettuce plant could get so big?!

"Weeding" - what he mostly pulls is lettuce leafs and mint.

Head down - working hard at weeding. Wearing Eric's crazy hat!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Prep

Since we finally have all of our "good stuff" and Turkey Day has passed it seemed a great time to dig through boxes and hunt out all our Christmas decorations. What fun I had re-discovering lots of little treasures. Orion loved helping me and did a pretty good job hanging "footballs" on the tree - anything that looks like a ball is called a "football aka: soccer ball" Our little lovely white tree!
Hot and sweaty mamma and a cheesy grinning little boy
Look into my eyes little grasshopper and learn the art of christmas tree decoration placement