Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fabric Shopping - Area 2

Dave here - Today I went to “Area 2” to do some fabric shopping. I didn’t think to take my camera out while I was at the fabric store, but I did get some pictures around the area. After I got home, I took some pictures of the fabric I bought for Shannon. I think she will like what I got. I can’t wait to take Shannon there so she can see all the fabric herself.

Enjoy the Pictures

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day trip to Kumbali

Dave here *- I decided to head out to Kumbali today and see what there was to see and drop off some seeds at the permaculture center. This post will have a lot of pictures on it because a picture is worth a thousand words. When I arrived at Kumbali, I noticed a lot of color in the trees. The last time I saw this much color was when they were having the quilt show a few months back. To my surprise one of the local shops was hanging their batiks to be sold. I am told that they do this every Sunday.

After looking to see where there was to see. I headed down the path for a walk. If Shannon is reading this she will know what path it is as we have been there together before. I was met with a surprise and horror.

The surprise was a colony of ants making their way from one side of the path to the other. It was a sight to see. If you look closely at the picture you will notice that the ants have made a tunnel in which to transport their eggs from one location to the other. It was really cool.

The horror was the sight of the fields all burnt. I was hoping to say for a few hours but the smell of the freshly burnt areas was killing me. I walk through the burnt area hoping to see some small homles critter but only came a cross a stump that was still smoldering. It was obvious that the fire had just finished.

I was all equipped to sit around and get some good bird pictures, but I was only able to get one. I thought it came out very well. I am posting the one of it flying for Colin. It was a lucky shot as most of my flying picture are.

My trip ended back at the batiks to pick up a little surprise for Shannon. I think she will really like what I got her.

*note - Shannon Requires me to tell everyone that it is me posting so people will not think that it is her.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Flight nightmares

By this time tomorrow I will be at the airport waiting to board the flight that will take me and the boys back to the states. OK, so we will be waiting board the flight to South Africa where we will switch planes to board the flight that will take us back to the states. I'm ridiculously nervous. It's my first time flying solo with the kids. Always before I've had Dave and Dakota or Teri and Dakota to help corral the three little one on international flights. This time it's just me. And the three boys. SIGH! Wish me luck, I'm gonna need it.

Just about the time I thought I was all organized and had everything under control David decided to caution me to make sure I got on the right flight, there are three leaving at about the same time. Apparently some guy a few weeks ago got on the wrong flight and ended up in Nairobi instead of Johannesburg. His luggage and connecting flight were all in Johannesburg, South Africa but this poor guy was stranded in Nairobi, Kenya. I have no idea how he got home. The buzzing in my ears as I had a total panic attack drowned out the sound of Dave's voice. I thought this was why your tickets are always checked right before you board, to make sure you don't end up on the wrong flight. Then again this IS Malawi.

I hardly slept at all last night worrying about ending up stuck in Nairobi instead of winging my way home to the states. Then I had a flash of brilliance, I actually sorta-kinda know people in Nairobi, in a bloggy sort of way. So you FS bloggers in Kenya if you get a totally hysterical e-mail from me sometime tomorrow afternoon could you pretty please come rescue me from the airport? Thank you! I knew I could count on you. Now does anyone know any bloggers in Addis Abada?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lunar Eclipse 2011

Tonight just after I finally got all three kids in bed, I sank down onto the couch with my laptop to check my e-mail and read a few blogs. I noticed the Google Doodle for the day was of a full moon. I clicked on it to see what the deal was. I was thinking vampires or werewolves. Hmmm...maybe it's time to lay off the Laurel K. Hamilton books. No, never mind that's not going to happen.

Turns out it had nothing to do with the supernatural and everything to to do with the natural. Tonight was the longest and darkest lunar eclipse of the century and we were in the perfect place to view it. It would be only visible in it's entirety from Africa and Central Asia. Dave and I ran outside and found it was already underway. We got the two older boys out of bed and the four of us sat in the driveway watching the slow motion drama of an unfolding lunar eclipse. It was a first for Dave and the boys. I remember seeing one with mom years and years ago, I probably wasn't much older than Alonzo. It was really cool to experience it with my own kids. I hope someday they get to share the experience with their own kids.

David set up the tripod and camera to document the whole thing. I peeked at the pictures and it looks like he got some good shots but we won't really know until we load the pictures onto the computer to get a good look at them. That's not happening until tomorrow because it is 10 o'clock, he kids are back in bed, and I am enjoying a glass of wine.

There is still an eclipse going on out there, but having watched the moon slowly disappear I am not hanging around outside for another hour and half to watch it reappear. Honestly if tomorrow wasn't the last day of school I would have been happy to sit out there freezing my butt of as long as the boys wanted to, but there is school tomorrow so off to bed they had to go.

Wordless Wednesday - Elephants

He's Eleven

Yesterday was Alonzo's birthday. He is 11. How the heck did that happen? Surely he was only like 6 last year. Although there was no party I believe he had a great day. Dave was able to to take most of the day off, he had few things at work that couldn't be avoided, but was able to get back home quickly so he and Alonzo could hang out together.

We went to African Habitat gift shop where he picked out a a cool little statue of a woodpecker, then out to lunch for pizza. For dinner he requested Dad's special chicken nuggets, the ones that taste like Chick-Fil-A only better, and fresh green beans cooked so they taste like the canned ones. I am guessing I'm not the only one missing convenience foods. I make almost everything we eat here from scratch. My sister-in-law called to ask what kind of foods we were missing so she could stock the pantry for our visit and my answer was anything that comes in a cardboard box from the freezer section. Fish sticks and tator tots, Yummy!

Most of the day was spent playing video games. He played by himself, against dad, and with his bothers. This is a rare treat, I am usually the video game nazi queen. If the sun is shining no video games, if it is a school night no video games, if you are fighting with your brother no video games. To have all day access to the video games is a huge deal around here. The highlight of the day was finally beating a few of Dad's high scores on some of Wii fit Plus games. Dad's not worried, he says now he has something to do while we are in the states, reclaim his titles.

Of course no birthday is complete without cake and presents. Alonzo asked for a snake cake. If you do a google search for snake cakes you will come up with some very cool cakes, but I am in Africa and the confectioners sugar, or icing sugar as they call it here, is much coarser than the stuff in the states. It doesn't make great decorators frosting. It is always gritty no matter what I do. One of these days I am going to have to try making cooked buttercream where you whip hot boiled sugar syrup into eggs so I don't have to worry about finding or ordering decent confectioners sugar. It is supposed to be great stuff, but a birthday cake is no place for experimentation so I played it safe. I triple sifted the sugar and did the best I could. I opted out of a sculpted cake that I might otherwise try and stuck with a basic chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and used Wilton's decorator frosting to create a snake. The texture of the frosting was still gritty but the end product lived up to the expectations of a happy 11 year old.

After stuffing his face full of cake he finally got around to checking his e-mail where he got happy birthday messages from family and found an e-mail from dad.

Happy Birthday !!!!

They will be waiting for you at Uncle Danny’s house

Yep! Alonzo will soon be the newest member of the Cyberbones toe shoe club.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Slightly Confused

Grayson is wandering around the house singing very loudly and off key "Country roads take me home to the place where I live."

In an attempt to share a bit of musical interesest with his baby boy David pulled up John Denver on itunes and played the original Take Me Home Country Roads. Grayson enjoyed it but when it was over he insisted that John Denver had the words wrong. Quote, "He doesn't know the real song does he, right?"

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Paperwork Nightmares

Paperwork is the bane of the Foreign Service life, it is however a necessary evil, and as such is the subject of this week’s FS Weekly Blog Roundup. Becky at Small Bits is hosting this week so make sure to click over on Friday to read about all the paperwork that goes hand in hand with living the FS life.

I am very, very lucky in that my husband, the employee, has control freak tendencies when it comes to paperwork so I rarely have to deal with it at all. He does it all for us. Just one more reason I love him.

Right now we are dealing with two ongoing paperwork issues. One issue concerns Dakota, and the other one concerns our pets. To be fair only one of those paperwork issues is State generated but both are beyond belief frustrating.

Let's start with the animals. Due to all sorts of things going wrong our animals ended up being left behind at my mother's house last summer. I am one of those people who is never really truly happy without her fur kids, so number one priority this summer is getting the cat and possibly the puppy* to post. The problem is the animals are in Texas, and due to heat issues they can't fly as accompanied baggage or cargo this time of year, it’s simply too hot. No problem! We'll take the cat in-cabin as a carryon, not ideal considering the length of the flight, but better than no cat. The other half of the problem occurs when the flight lands in Africa, Johannesburg does not allow animals to arrive in cabin, they must arrive as cargo. ARRRGH! I know of at least one other family going round in circles trying to get their animals to Malawi. You would think no one had ever brought a pet to post before. There has got to be a way to get at least the cat here with us. I am hoping for a miracle in the next 6 weeks.

The other paperwork issue is even more frustrating. As long term readers know Dakota left for bootcamp in early December. When a diplokid grows up and heads off to college they get a college shipment. It is a small shipment, only 250 pounds, but enough to at least get their clothes and a few personal items to campus. Recruits are not allowed to take anything to bootcamp, so we didn’t even think about this at the time. Now that bootcamp is over Dakota would really like to have his stuff back. We really didn’t think it would be a problem to get stuff sent to him using the college shipment, we were wrong. Why we thought anything would ever be simple I have no earthly idea.

To start with Dakota left Malawi on Navy orders, with a ticket bought by the Navy. Standard procedure for recruits reporting to bootcamp. We had no idea what a headache this would cause later. When we tried to arrange for the shipment we were told he isn’t eligible for a shipment since he is still at post. Explaining that he isn’t at post but in the states serving in the Navy didn’t get us far. There were no orders cut, no ticket bought with State funds, therefore he is still at post and doesn’t need a shipment. David has had this conversation in many forms, with many different people, and at this point it doesn’t appears as if this situation is going to be resolved any time soon. I will be hand carrying the most important items home with me this summer, and that may be all he gets. I know it is bit unusual, but surely Dakota isn’t the first diplobrat in history of the Foreign Service to join the military rather than heading off to college, there has to be some way to get his junk our of our house and off to his barracks room.

If anyone out there has any idea how to solve either issues please Please PLEASE let us know!

*The cat we have had for 10 years and he is much beloved. The puppy was a new addition to the family last summer but at this point is no longer a puppy and has never been around kids, except for a brief time last summer when he basically terrified of my boys, but he was a little puppy so he could be socialized and trained adapt to the kids. We will have to see how he handles the rowdy boys this summer, but also we have to consider that he is shorter than the gap under the security gate so he will be a high maintenance kind of pet, never able to go outside alone or even off leash. There are packs of scary dogs and the occasional hyena that roam the streets around here at night. It would be bad to have to explain to the kids that a hyena ate their dog. I am thinking we will be finding him a good, loving home this summer. Anyone want a not-a-puppy-anymore Japanese Chin?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Petty Officer

Yesterday I got a phone call from Dakota. That in and of itself wasn't all that unusual he calls at least one a week. It was a bit strange that he called midweek. Generally his school and the time difference make midweek phone calls a rarity. He called because he had to tell someone that he made rank. I am now the proud momma of a Petty Officer Third Class.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Kelly Kits

Kelly is one of my dearest friends back in San Antonio. I literally wouldn't have survived the initial pack-out and move to DC without her, she totally held my hand during the whole sell the house thing. Thank heavens for good friends! I am really looking forward to seeing her and the rest of the gang this summer. Girls night out here I come, but that's not what this post is about.

Kelly is not only a great friend, but a talented artist, a mom, and now a business woman. She started her own business called Kelly Kits selling self-contained art kits. Everything you need to complete an variety of art projects with your child is included. Currently she offers two kits, each with five different art activities ranging from printmaking to sculpting. It would be a great item for a babysitter, scout leader, homeschooler or just to keep your kids busy for a little while this summer.

It would also be a great item to order for your kids as you head out to a new post. How nice would it be to have an all-inclusive art kit arrive in DPO* the first week at a new post while you are waiting for all the kids toys to show up in your HHE? They could enjoy creating some art and use it to start decorating their new rooms. What a nice way to spend a few hours that first rough week or two.

Kelly appeared earlier today on the local TV show SA Living. Check out this video of her appearance and get a peek at some of the activities in the kits.

If you have, or know someone with kids, a Kelly Kit would be great fun.

*I'm not sure how much liquid is in a kit so I didn't say pouch, only DPO. I will be checking with Kelly and updating this post once I know if it will meet pouch restrictions. My guess would be that it is fine. I can't imagine that a kit has more than 16 ounces of liquid.