Friday, September 21, 2012

where nothing ever grows

When I started blogging, I posted more general musings than update-style. Then I started having kids and ... I didn't really muse any more. Plus, I have tons of things to post about the kids. So my blogging style changed. You could say this post is going back to my roots.

I recently watched a documentary called Genetic Roulette. (While it's very eye-opening and important information, and I think you should watch it, that's not really what this post is about.) One of the experts they interview makes a statement about the biotech industry claiming that there isn't enough food to feed everyone in the world and that their genetically engineered food will solve world hunger. But, that isn't really true, says this expert. There is more than enough food in the world. People are starving because they can't afford to buy food.

This reminded me of the song Do They Know It's Christmas. While I recognize that this song has done some good in the world as far as fundraising and raising awareness about world hunger, I have a lot of problems with the lyrics because they perpetuate the myth about the reason people have to go without food.

While there are regional food shortages sometimes, and the government and World Food Program import food from other countries, most of the time, people who go without food are doing so not because there is no food but because they have no money to buy food.

The lyrics:

1) There won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime. Ok. There are a lot of places where it doesn't snow at Christmas. Like Texas (most of the time) or Australia. This point is moot. Not only that, it isn't even true. There are snow-capped mountains in Africa, and there is snow on them at Christmas.

2) The greatest gift they'll get this year is life. Honestly, is there any greater gift? Is there really going to be something in your stocking or under your tree on Christmas morning that makes you say, "Wow. I no longer need nor want to live because I have now received The Ultimate Gift That's Better Than Life Itself?"

3) Where nothing ever grows. Maybe true in desert regions, but all of Africa isn't a desert. Lots of stuff grows in Africa.

4) No rain or rivers flow. Just not true at all. There are rainy seasons. There are floods. There are many rivers.

5) Do they know it's Christmastime at all. I can't speak for all of Africa, but here, Christmas is a religious holiday celebrated by Christians. Santa Claus, elves, and Rudolph are not part of the celebration because they are part of American cultural Christmas, not religious Christmas. So maybe it doesn't look like Christmas from our cultural perspective, but they do celebrate Christmas.

But anyway. My point is: I hate the lyrics of this song.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ben's birthday

Ben, about 30 minutes old

We found out (for sure) about Ben the day after Nate's 1st birthday party.

Before the pregnancy test, I think Rodgers was still hoping I wasn't pregnant just yet. He wasn't ready to go through pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum again so soon (it was rough the first time around). I knew I was pregnant and was glad. We wanted to have a second child, and I wanted to get all the having-the-baby part over with!

Ben, 2 days old

Turns out it wasn't quite so bad the second time. Pregnancy was better; my morning sickness only lasted 2 trimesters instead of 3. Delivery was infinitely better, with a wonderful scheduled c-section. That also made those first weeks and months postpartum so much better, as did my decision to formula feed from the start, rather than to try to force my body to produce sufficient milk, which I did with Nate until my body decided we'd had enough and stopped producing altogether, but I don't really think I'm bitter about that anymore. Anyway, moving on...

We had friends and family over for Ben's birthday. Nate has been looking forward to it for 6 weeks, at which point he had asked me if he could play with balloons, and I said, "Yes, at Ben's birthday party."

We grilled hot dogs, made homemade hot dog chili sauce and french fries, and bought a cake. I designed Ben's decorations, inspired by a helicopter on one of his bottles.

His Aunt Claire sent birthday gifts with a Kenyan girl who spent the summer in Texas. Nate helped open gifts, and had to run and show each one to Rodgers. I think Ben got into it because of Nate's excitement.

Gigi and Grandpa gave us money to buy him a chair, since he has been stealing Nate's little chair. The first one was super cute, but led to two bumps on the head and a fat lip in the first day, so we traded for the one he's sitting in that's harder to tip over.

His friends gave him some money and big box of cookies! The blue and white box is the cookies. Sidney (the baby) was supposed to give the money to Ben, but he wouldn't take it and Ben wouldn't look up from his package of cookies. Then when Samuel was ready to give his gift, Ben was occupied playing with other presents. Ah, well, I'll take it!

We gave Ben a rug for his and Nate's room that has roads on it for driving toy cars. Nate picked out a set of cars to play with on the rug. They wasted no time getting started playing with the cars and rug!

Ben was sooooo sleepy by cake time. He did put in a good effort, considering the sleepiness. the US it's rude to tell someone you are coming to their event and not show up. In Kenya, it's rude to say you won't be coming unless you have a very specific excuse (such as if you have to go to work). If you don't, you just say you're coming to be polite, then don't go. Or you can say that you have to work even if you really don't, but I think our friends are starting to realize that Rodgers doesn't accept that from them. Thus, we prepared for 20 people and had 3, one of which was only 8 months old. So a la Matthew 22, Rodgers went out to the street and called our neighbors' kids to come in and eat hot dogs and cake! Those in upper primary school were just getting home from Saturday school, so it was the perfect time.

And they watched Lion King. Rodgers said that once we open the children's home, this is what our living room will always look like.

Ben had a blast. He was laughing and playing all day long, except for his nap, when he crashed hard! Rodgers' niece was supposed to come, but there was no one to bring her, and we were too busy getting ready for the party that we couldn't go pick her up. So, when her mom got off work, she stopped by, and we sent some of the leftovers home with her so that they could have a mini party of their own. :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

the last can

of formula.

We opened the last can of formula today. With Ben turning 1 soon and eating so much real food, he doesn't need it anymore. He can get his nutrients from the dinner table, like the rest of us.

The end of formula seems like a milestone. It tells us that we (including Ben!) have survived babyhood. We breathe a sigh of relief while simultaneously bracing ourselves for the terrors of toddlerhood. We do try to keep our focus on saying "good riddance" to the hard parts of the previous phase, enjoying the fun parts of the current phase, and looking forward to the fun parts of the coming phase.

We're enjoying Ben's emerging goofy personality. We enjoy him learning to walk and communicate (he signs milk and eat, and he says Mama, Baba/Dada, yum, and Mammmmammmm-yuummmm-yummmm-yummm when he wants me to give him some more food, and he said "out" to get out of the buggy at the store today). We enjoy letting him try new foods, and almost every food is his favorite right now. We really enjoy seeing him play with big brother (Nate says, "That's my brudder!"). Their wrestling matches are a blast!

We are looking forward to Ben beginning to sleep through the night again (he hasn't recovered from that 9 month sleep regression). We are looking forward to him learning more words, becoming a steadier walker, learning to hold his own sippy cup (he thinks all cups work like straws). We're looking forward to him weaning from the paci - mostly because we keep losing them, and we'd prefer he stops using them because he's ready rather than because we lost the last one.

The only problem with the last can of formula is this: we had been going through 2 cans of formula per week. We have trash pickup twice a week. Empty formula cans made excellent food waste containers. Now what do we do with our food waste?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I can play with this?

When I tell Nate to stop doing something, he looks for something else he can do.

We have a gas stove, but there are no city gas lines to hook into. We don't have a large tank out back, either. The way we do it here is with a small canister right next to the stove. Typically people will have the gas canister in an outdoor closet opposite the wall where the stove is, but the owner of our house is using that closet for his own storage, so we have ours in the corner of the kitchen.

It makes fun sounds when tapped, so it is quite an undertaking to convince the boys to stop playing with it. It's not a safe toy!

I heard Nate playing with it the other day. Without looking, I called out to him to stop playing with the gas tank. I saw him walk over to the refrigerator, and he said, "I can play with this?" Then he kicked the fridge. Hard. With no shoes on. It hurt. He cried.

I had no idea he'd been banging on the gas canister with his toes!

The plus side: I don't need to worry about him kicking the refrigerator in the future.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Or nearly there.

We used to always snack on granola bars, cereal bars, muffin bars, etc. We called them all "breakfast bars" to simplify things for Nate. There are such things here, but they are all imports and super expensive. So I started thinking that surely I could make some. Our oven scares me, so I scoured the internet for no-bake options. I settled on Rachael Ray's (no linky right now because her website is down, but it's easy to find).

I had some trouble with it, though. It's ok. I'm not afraid of experimenting with a recipe. I don't know if it's because of the humidity here or what, but I couldn't get the bars to stick together. We had granola clumps for a few batches. But, I think I have arrived at the best way to make them.

Melt 1/4 cup margarine, 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 cup brown sugar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. I experimented with the amount of sugar and honey and with adding peanut butter, but the stickiness wasn't right.
Add 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oatmeal, 3/4 cup rice crispy cereal, 1/2 cup pretzel sticks, 1/2 cup raisins. Mix until thoroughly coated in the syrupy mixture. RR calls for 2 cups granola and 1 cup rice crispies. Mine stick better with oats instead of granola and with less cereal total.
Press into jelly roll pan. Mine's small, and this doesn't quite fill it up. I just squish it into about 3/4 of the pan and make a line with a knife on the "open" edge.
Top with 1/2 cup chocolate chips or 1 crushed dark chocolate bar if you live somewhere that doesn't really have chocolate chips like me.
Chill until set. I work on these during naptime, and right about this point, Ben is waking up, so I come back to it the following day to cut them into bars. I store them in the fridge because of ants.

We left our previous batch of breakfast bars, which was nearly but not quite as good as this one, in Malindi in the fridge at our hotel. I reminded Rodgers yesterday that I'd made more, and they were already cut and ready to eat, then I went to put Nate down for nap. I came back and Rodgers said, "Those are gooooood. I had four."

The only thing I think could possibly make them even better would be a bit of peanut butter. Maybe melted and drizzled over the top of the chocolate?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

your Rodgers

A few days ago, we were upstairs when Rodgers came home. Nate, very excited, yelled "Daddy's home!" He ran up to me, "Your daddy's home!" I said, "No that's not my daddy. That's my Rodgers."

Now, when Nate is talking to me, he clarifies that his daddy is my Rodgers, just in case I didn't make the connection myself.

"My daddy - your Rodgers - is home!"
"Let's follow Daddy. That's your Rodgers, Mama. You follow Rodgers."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


We had quite a lovely weekend in Malindi. It's not a holiday weekend here (Labor Day already happened for us), but we'd been invited to visit our country church and decided to make a weekend of it, rather than a 6 hour round trip day trip.

We stayed in a hotel we've stayed in before. Last time, the fans in our room were super noisy and the mosquito nets were insufficient. We all got mosquito bitten and hardly slept because it was either noisy or hot. Still, we liked the place itself. So we told them, and this time they gave us a 2 bedroom flat, with screens on the windows and quiet fans. They gave us a good deal on half board (breakfast and supper), and we ate lunches in our flat. We played in the pool and went shopping in the Malindi Tourist Market. My sister-in-law also took me shopping in the non-tourist shops for some Swahili sandals, since I'd forgotten to pack shoes to wear with my dress Sunday. They have them in the Tourist Market, but they are more expensive for tourists.

The boys and me playing in the rooftop pool

With the breeze, Ben was too cold in the pool. He was shivering, but he didn't want to get out. The look on his face here tells me he's plotting against me.

Rodgers helped Nate jump and splash in the pool. Ben was super jealous.

Church was both good and frustrating. The service was great, they gave us gifts, Rodgers preached. But Nate is becoming unmanageable for me during church. If Rodgers isn't preaching or if I can get Ben to let someone else hold him, Nate is fine. But if it's just me and I'm holding Ben, he figures no one is going to make him mind so he can wreak havoc. Usually, I end up holding Ben under one arm and Nate under the other and going outside to wait for Rodgers to finish preaching. I miss church nursery.

My boys. They were supposed to wear their matching shoes, but I couldn't get Ben to keep his on. They're leather and kind of tight. We'll have to practice wearing shoes I guess.

Rodgers and the boys at church, listening to the choir singing - before the sermon, obviously.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

toddlers, with an S

Nate took his first step at eleven months, his second step at fourteen months, and he was taking many steps in a row right away. It seemed he spent those three months figuring it out mentally instead of experimenting physically.

Thus I was surprised this week. Ben's first birthday is just 2 weeks from today. He took his first step Tuesday and fell down onto his hands and knees. I helped him back up. He took his second step and fell down again. Then he cracked up laughing and crawled away.

The next day, we played the one step and fall down game for a long time. AND...he took two steps in a row before grabbing onto Nate's shirt, taking a third step, and falling down, laughing so hard he couldn't stand up again.

Quite fun. And exciting. I love milestones!