Thursday, December 22, 2011


I am not even sure where to start with this post - it was so amazing and so intense, I think I am still processing it. With my family here for a visit, Eric and I were able to leave O for a night and finally make the trek to see the mountain gorillas. We drove out to Musanze and stayed in the Ishema Hotel (I called it the Ishitty hotel - it really wasn't very nice) and got up early the next morning to make the short drive to the Volcanoes National Park headquarters. Eric had purchased our permits in Kigali so all we had to do was show up at 7am and get put into a group. Right now there are 10 groups of gorillas that you can trek to - the lead guide divides people into groups based on agility and fitness and then you set out. Each group consists of 8 people and one guide. We were put into the Ugenda group that has 13 gorillas in it - including 2 silverbacks - it is considered an "intermediate" hike. Once in our group we drove about forty minutes up closer to the mountain and then began our trek out. It was so incredibly beautiful - so much green and so few people - it was nice to just hear silence (along with the sounds of my own breathing as the elevation increased) and see the views. Porters met us at the starting point and trekkers are encouraged to hire porters to help the local economy - it seemed kinda silly as we only had one little day pack but our porter Deo really helped us out. We hiked for about one hour through terraced farm lands planted with potatos, pyrthrium and wheat until we got to the park boundary. Once at the boundary our guide, Beck, gave us a little lecture about how to act around the gorillas and the accepted distance to keep from them. It was a trip to go from the terraced farm land to the park - like stepping into the rain forrest - all of a sudden there was foliage all over and the trail turned to a narrow little muddy slice. The sun was filtered and you could feel the moisture in the air. Once into the forest we hiked for maybe another 45 minutes and finally spotted our trackers. These are professionals who go out early in the morning and track the gorillas - it makes it easier for tourists to see them. Once you find your trackers you know you are close to seeing the gorillas. We gathered in a circle and left our packs and walking sticks and then walked about ten feet away from our circle to where the gorilla's were resting. They were so quiet that if you didn't know where they were you would have hiked right past them. Once you spot the gorilla's your one hour time limit starts - it was literally the quickest hour of my life. You are supposed to stay about 20 feet away from the gorillas but that is close to impossible - they move around all the time and are curious so basically we just hung out and took a million pictures and let them do their thing. That's the down low for now - more to come with processing and a better internet connection.
So incredibly close to the gorillas...
The youngest member of the Ugenda group was this one year old
The lead silverback - he scratched his bum and then smelled his hand!
The big daddy giving checking me out - he weighed close to 500 pounds...HUGE!

School's out for the Summer!

I pick O up from school on Friday afternoons. A couple of weeks ago his teacher asked me if I minded if he played a missionary in the end of term school play. I looked at her with eyes wide open and said "of course not" so you can imagine how my mind processed my child playing a missionary at a preschool in Africa. The whole thing was just too freakin weird. As the week passed Eric told me one day that school asked if Orion had a suit and a cowboy hat - what the heck? Is that what missionaries wear? The missionaries I have met wear your average clothes. Since O owned no suit or cowboy hat we were out of luck. The following day Eric said that they asked if it was ok if he wore a roseary and carried a bible. In the end the play was cute - long and overdrawn for a preschool play but harmless. What a smiling missionary!
Parading around the stage in his "thomas the train" undies and a fur show how human clothing has changed over the ages. Pretty complex theme for preschool, huh?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Holiday Giving in Rwanda

Looking for a fantastic holiday giving opportunity? Then look no farther...

Kacyiru Primary School (KPS) is located in the Kacyiru neighborhood of Kigali, Rwanda. Approximately 2600 children attend this school and because there are so many children, half attend school from 7am—Noon and the other half from 1pm—5pm. These students are taught by 42 teachers. Of these 2600 children approximately 25% are orphans that are unable to afford school uniforms or yearly school fees.

We – The Ali, May, Tye, Uwera and Weller Families – invite you to sponsor a school child!

Approximately 230 Primary School Children from KPS

A donation of 22,000 RF or $35 USD and a small toy or book as a gift. This monetary donation will cover the cost of a new school uniform and school fees for the year

What a simple and easy way to make a difference in a child’s life

Take a look at the “kid cards” on the tree in the HU that each child has filled out. Pick the card of the child that you would like to sponsor, give the money to Laura or Stacy for the uniform and school fees and find a toy or book as a small gift. On December 16th there will be a party at KPS and the gifts will be distributed to the sponsored child.

How it started:
I first became acquainted with KPS through my son. His preschool is close to KPS and when I would collect him from school I would see kids in blue checked shirts and blue shorts or skirts. Being new to Rwanda, I thought this was the standard uniform of all school children and thus I had school uniforms made for my son. Turns out that each school has their own uniform and his school was no different. We now had these school uniforms that we didn’t need. I asked his teacher if she could assist us with donating these KPS school uniforms. She called me after her visit and with tears in her voice said that she had met with the headmistress and they had identified children that didn’t have school uniforms. The children were thrilled with these new uniforms and we started brainstorming about ways that we could get involved with KPS. My colleagues and I worked with KPS teachers to identify children in each class that did not have school uniforms and were unable to pay their school fees. These were the children that were invited to fill out “kid cards”

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Airplane Delivery

I heard through the grapevine that RwandAir was bringing in their second Boeing 737-800 and after asking around it turned out the Ambassador was invited. I explained that I come from a family of Boeing employees and asked if I could tag along for the reception. It was great! I got to ride with the Ambassador and this enabled me to come on time for the reception instead of having to be there two hours ahead. We were sent out to the new VIP waiting room at the airport and plyed with food and drink and then when the plane was spotted we were escorted down onto the tarmac where there was dancing and drumming. I was told that when an airplane is on its maiden voyage it is sprayed with water when it departs and when it lands - so when the plane landed it went through huge sprays of water. I got to check out the interior (which honestly, looks just like a plane!) When asked what I thought, I said "does it make the plane fly faster or make it less painful to fly with a three year old" you can guess the answer to those questions! The biggest surprise of the afternoon was when I spied two servers walking in with cases of something from Pike Place Brewing Company. Turns out that Boeing had PPBC brew a special beer to give to RwandAir for the purchase of the plane. They called it Rwand Ale and it had a nice little story of how they purchased the planes. Kinda cool that if you spend millions of dollars you can get your own little beer. Let me tell you - from a G&T kinda girl - the beer was delish.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Product of the USA - packed in UAE...strange isn't that?
Popcorn in a pop-top it!
I have a love affair with popcorn. Is it heriditary? Some sort of wierd genetic mutation? No clue. What I do know is that popcorn is meal in my family. My mom has this ginormous metal bowl that is used for popcorn and making cookie dough at Christmas. She has no secret recipe - its airpopped corn with butter. I think my cousin, Tina, has this gene as well and maybe a new coworker. I think you either LIKE popcorn or you never really think about it.
Eric is the cook in our relationship and when he runs out of ideas or is in no mood to cook we have "fend for yourself" dinner usually some random assortment of bits and pieces that we call dinner. And because Eric is who he is - we dont have "fend for yourself" very often - maybe 1-2 times a month. My all time favorite "fend for yourself" dinner is a bowl of popcorn.
It was no surprise to me that when I went to make popcorn for Halloween yesterday...the popcorn container was almost empty. Only about a scant 1/2 cup left and, as any popcorn lover will tell you, that is not enought popcorn. Good thing I have a husband who looks after me - like some magician in a big top circus - he pulls from the closet a can of popcorn. I take a look at it and it cracks me up. Product of the USA but packed in UAE - I have visions of a large cargo ship with popcorn in the hull. Is that really what happens? Who knows...all I know is this...Eric saved the day and orange popcorn balls were made with crisis averted.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cooked Fruit

It almost feels strange to start typing here again. I have a love hate relationship with this blog. I love that its here and that my family and friends can take a look and see what we have been up to but on the flip side its not easy. Our Internet connection often times sucks, I tried uploading a 32 second video the other day about 50 times and it took so long that the computer timed out. I still have not been able to load it and let me tell you its a cute video of Orion riding his new birthday balance bike. Damn, that kid has no fear, he rides it down the hill of our driveway like a bat outta hell and uses his "brakes" aka his feet to stop. But alas, I digress. I write a million and one blogs in my brain and I actually thought about keeping a note pad with all my ideas but that never materialized either.

What has got me lately is this. I went to a dinner at a friends house a couple Saturday nights ago. It was a small little gathering - 5 of us in all - with lots of great conversation. She had prefaced the email dinner invitation stating that it was going to be a sllllloooooowwwww dinner, with tipsy croquet, new wines and long leisurely eating. It was! We chatted in the kitchen, sipping new kinds of Virgina wine (who knew??!) snacked on nuts and Oreos (a rare gem here in Kigali) and yes, indeed, we did play tipsy croquet. I was so horrible at croquet that I made it my responsibility to knock everyone else's balls out of line (bad girl, bad girl). Then we had dessert and out they come...a chocolate zucchini cake and a strawberry rhubarb pie. Now if you know me, you know I have a serious aversion to cooked fruit. Its so weird and has such a strange consistency...but alas, the pie was what I envision being handed at the pearly gates. You know like, "welcome to heaven, have some pie". I still really can't believe that I am writing that I liked a cooked fruit pie. So now that I have had this awakening, I need to make myself some pie. My mom sent me her favorite recipe which is this:

MB's No Fail Pie Crust

4 cups flour
1 3/4 c shortening
1 T sugar
1t salt

cut together with a pastry blender

mix 1egg beaten
1T vinegar
add enough water to make 3/4 cup of liquid.

mix the two together...makes 2 pie crusts...
just until the ingredients "ball"

this is the best one I have ever used..
the not handle it to much.
roll out once and gently

good luck

hugs, mom

MB's recipe looks all fine and good but where the heck am I supposed to get shortening? Not available here and, honestly, its always kinda creeped me out. So my next thought was, lets google it and see whats out there. Well, you can tell where this is heading...there are a million and one recipes for pie crusts out there. Scrolling through a few and they all basically have the same ingredients...then I laid my eyes on this one and I think I fell in love with her pictures of pie. Those close up of the lattice work really got to me and thus this will be the winner in the "which recipe for pie crust to try" competition. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Flights of Fancy

So, I am supposed to be working but I got all sorts of crap floating around in my head. You know those kind of times where you feel like you must write it all down or you wont remember what you were thinking. Plus, its 11:35 which means it almost lunch time, right? which means its OK to just write nonsense for a bit, right?

These are the bits of matter in my cranium:

1. my friend T is pregnant with twin boys. I got an invite to her baby shower which is all the way in Chicago so needless to say, I had to RSVP with regrets. That said, I need to find her something or the boys something. I was checking out Etsy and fell in love with these - thinking that I can convo the artist and get them made in two contrasting colors - maybe orange and green? or should I get her a pregnancy massage - you know, something for her alone? They do live in Chicago and the babes are due in late November so you know its gonna be COLD!

2. I need to figure out how to pay a deposit for our upcoming Turkey Day holiday. We are headed here for some much needed beach time! I miss the water terribly and the sun. Whoever thought Rwanda was supposed to be sunny cause its in Africa never lived in Seattle. The weather is remarkably similar minus the constant temperature around 75 degrees. So how do I get Wells Fargo to do a wire transfer to a place in Kenya? Also, which airline has better deals Rwandair which is a direct flight or Kenyan Air which will fly through Nairobi? Do I want to save money but have to fly through Nairobi?

3. I need to come up with a plan to make treats for O Boy's BIG number 3! Eric asked his school how many kids are in his class but we keep getting conflicting numbers. Weird, huh? Last year they told me 50 but i think that meant there were 50 kids in the entire school. I was thinking that I was going to make cupcakes for him to take but the idea of transporting 50 cupcakes makes me want to cry so maybe I will go for chocolate chip cookies or brownies. They would both be a hit as chocolate chip anything is no where to be found here and brownies are unheard of. Eric also scored two packages of cream cheese (you dont even want to know how much he paid for it) that I need to do something with - maybe cream cheese brownies? Anyone got any great (no need for only good) recipes out there for a baked good that includes cream cheese?

4. Ok - I got sidetracked with my job and forgot half of my list. I know it will come back to me but for now its out there in the great beyond, just waiting.

5. Ohhh...I just remembered one more thing. I was reading this blog and wondering if I can find rosemary here when I then read this post that she linked to this - which has got to be the funniest craigslist entry I have ever seen. Read it now and laugh hysterically! And if you know me just shake your head and remember the infamous BROWN BULLET!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy Almost Birthday O Boy!

It’s Orion’s Third Birthday!

Please join us for an
afternoon of fun!

When: Saturday October 8th from 3pm

Where: YoAli Residence

What: bouncy house, happy hour drinks, and of course birthday cake!

Scoop: In lieu of gifts we’d like to collect new or gently used children’s books to donate to Kacyiru Primary School’s library

Questions: call Eric at 072 281 7113 or
Stacy at 078 830 5128

Friday, September 16, 2011

Christmas Trees

I have become obsessed with getting a Christmas Tree. A fake big green thing to put up every year. Is this because I have a son who is starting to get the whole Christmas/Santa thing...I don't know but whatever it is I have become a WOMAN OBSESSED.

Growing up we always had a live Christmas tree and I made fun of fake ones but then we lived in the Pacific Northwest where evergreen trees are so abundant they named the state - The Evergreen State. Then Eric and I moved to the SW - where the only thing dotting the landscape was red rock and cactus and it became difficult to find a live Christmas tree. So I did what any self-respecting person does and bought a 3 foot funky white one that I loved! See the use of the past tense "loved" - I am feeling the love a lot less these days and think perhaps I am outgrowing my white Christmas tree infatuation.

Thus, the hunt for a new and improved fake Christmas tree - maybe I shouldn't call it "fake" cause it still represents many things - but more like "not-white" Christmas tree. I have bid on two Christmas trees on eBay hoping to score the tree of my dreams. Alas, some sneaky person keeps outbidding me by $1. What the hell - these auctions are ending at like 3am - who the heck is up at 3am looking to deny me the tree of my dreams!

My co-worker, who has heard about this newest obsession everyday, told me to try walmart or kmart or target but no go - they had nothing remotely interesting and every tree was over $250 dollars. YIKES! Who knew "not-white" Christmas trees could cost so much?!

This is similar to my favorite Christmas tree on eBay and I am still smarting from getting outbid!

Monday, September 12, 2011

99 Not Red Ballons

What's better to a 2 year old than a big old bunch of balloons that were left over from a "bunco for boobies" fundraising event. While back in Auburn on holiday, MB hosted this amazing afternoon event. There was a $40 buy in that got you drinks (three cheers for margaritas!), dinner and 1/2 the pot. The other half went to family friends who were doing the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk. There were about 50 women that attended and it was a hysterical good time!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Our visit to THE BAY

In search of comfortable shoes for Oma we head to the bay - as in "The Hudson Bay Trading Company" you know - old school, trappers and fur traders and such. Now its a big'ish department type store with not a lot of inventory. What they did have in stock were plenty of mannequins just waiting to talk to Orion. Thinking back, I am not sure that he has really ever seen mannequins up close and personal or maybe he has but now he's old enough to appreciate them. I caught him in the swimsuit section saying "my name is Orion, how are you doing". I about peed my pants laughing. That combined with the good taste in high heels made for a very adventurous shopping trip.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

O Goes to the Dentist

While back in Auburn on holiday, Orion had his first visit to the dentist. I chose a kid friendly dentist close to my mom's house and it was a great experience. The office had an electric train going all the way through it, a special little kid sized door to walk through and everything was kid friendly - from the special dental chairs to the toothbrush sizes to the small rewards for being a good patient. While sitting on my lap he had his first set of xrays and then with TV as a distration (see his fixated gaze in the pictures) the hygentist cleaned his teeth and the dentist examined them. Three cheers for a great visit except for the first sentence out of the dentist's mouth - "looks like he's going to need braces" - yikes, how can you tell that in the first two seconds of an exam and do we start saving now?

"look momma there is a TV in the roof"

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sushi with the Family

Point Defiance Zoo

A morning at the zoo with good friends was the perfect way to spend a sunny day. O had a great time looking at animals and running around. We were at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma - I had not been there for several years and it was fantastic.