Saturday, March 31, 2012

it's bean day!

The first week we were here, Nate hardly ate anything at all. Then, we visited our friends Francis and Constance. Constance served us a lovely lunch of maharagwe nazi (beans cooked with coconut milk) and chapati (flatbread). Nate ate more than I did. The following Saturday, we made out own maharagwe nazi and decided that henceforth, Saturday is bean day.

We start by sorting the beans. Nate loves this part. We throw the “yucky beans” on the ground and put the “nummy beans” in the pot. Then, we wash the nummy beans.

I soak them overnight. I’ve done a quick soak before by simmering them for a few hours (when I had a crock pot), but I prefer soaking overnight. It just takes a little planning. In the morning, I make sure there is still water in the pot (sometimes I put too many beans and not enough water, and all the water gets absorbed by morning).

clean beans

cooking beans
Around 4 in the afternoon, we begin the cooking part. The beans are washed again and drained. Then, we put them on the stove to start cooking with some spices (whatever strikes our fancy on that particular day). I think they cook for about an hour, but honestly, I have no idea. When we think about it, we taste test to see if they are getting ready.

Kenyan kitchen essentials: mbuzi and machete

Meanwhile, Rodgers shreds the coconut. I should get more practice with the mbuzi (literally: goat), but usually he does it because he’s just more efficient. Before we had the mbuzi, he used a spoon.

The juice (Rodgers says, “It’s just water.”) from the middle of the coconut is poured out. We don’t use that part. I don’t know why.

The shredded coconut goes into the kifumbu (sieve). He squeezes it and squishes it to get the coconut milk out. When no more comes out, Rodgers sets it in a small bowl of water, then squeezes it some more.

We add the coconut milk to the beans when they are almost cooked and let them simmer until they are done.

We are no good at making chapati (yet!), so we go down the street to a little restaurant (or sometimes just a woman with a stool and a chapati jiko) and buy a few for 15 shillings each.

Karibuni kwa siku ya maharagwe! (Welcome to bean day!)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

relocating to Kenya: with kids

When I lived overseas previously, I was neither married nor a parent. There are a lot of new things I've had to take into consideration this time.

First of all, diapers. Diapers are not used much here, therefore, they are very expensive. We have seen both Huggies and Pampers, but the more affordable disposables (which are still more expensive than disposables in the US) are not very good. We made the decision to switch to cloth diapers based on this. Since all of our laundry is being line-dried, I have Ben mostly in flats. Flat diapers are the super-old-fashioned kind of cloth diapers. They dry fast, though! Nate still wears diapers for sleeping and when we leave home, but awake at home, he's either in undies or naked.

Nate's little potty for downstairs, since all of our bathrooms are upstairs

Which brings us to potty training...We have had some potty training regression since moving, but he seems to be getting back into the swing of things. If I could get him to pee outside on the ground, we could ditch having him in diapers away from home, which I think would help progress, and I think he is ready for that again. With limited availability of public restrooms (and those that do exist are not sitting potties), he needs to be able to pee standing up before he can leave home in undies again.

Next, feeding them. There are several brands of formula here; we went with Nestle. We had brought Good Start with us to transition Ben gradually. We use bottled water for our drinking water, including mixing Ben's formula. We couldn't bring as much Good Start as I wanted to, but he transitioned just fine with the small amount we brought.

There is not a big variety of pureed baby food available in stores here. We were able to find a blender, though, so I have been making Ben's baby food. I never did this when Nate was a baby, but it's really easy.

Which brings us to Nate's food. I try to feed him what we eat, but he's not always willing. If we have leftover beans and rice in the fridge, though, he's good to go. He regularly asks for his favorite American snacks, but we haven't been able to find most of them. We have been trying out all kinds of snack food here to find some kind of replacements, with limited success. We have some cereal that is very close to Honey Nut Cheerios, but his favorite Kenyan cereal is bran flakes with raisins.

Then there are also things to consider like malaria pills (both boys are on a pediatric anti-malarial), mosquito repellent (DEET is the best repellent, and though not generally recommended to use on small children, it's not as dangerous as malaria, and is what the pedi told us to use), and shots (like Nate's typhoid and yellow fever shots; Ben hasn't had any extras yet, but he will when he's 9 months old).

We have a car, which makes getting around town so easy. Without the kids, Rodgers and I would probably take matatus (15 passenger public transport mini-buses) most of the time. Getting 2 small children in and out of a matatu would be a hassle. We have a double stroller, but will likely only use it when we are flying. I have seen some strollers being used at the mall, but most places aren't really stroller accessible. I wear Ben, and Nate walks or Rodgers holds him (or he goes in the shopping cart if we're somewhere that has them).

In a lot of ways, taking care of them isn't really that different than in the US. As my mom said this week, with a little creativity, you can make anything work!

Monday, March 26, 2012

ice cream

Church service here lasts all day. Since I don't understand enough Swahili to "get" everything that's going on, and since Nate doesn't have the attention span for it or the stamina to skip lunch, we just go to the "English service" (semi-English, semi-Swahili) and go home.

Of the four Sundays we've been here, Rodgers has preached 3. One Sunday, he preached in 2 services, but that's not the point. He was asked to preach during the Swahili service again this week. There is some time between the end of the English service and the sermon in the Swahili service, so he brought us home around 10:15, ran a couple of errands, then went back to church to preach.

I expected him to be gone at least 4 hours. It takes 3 minutes to get from our driveway to the dirt road that leads to the church and 5-10 minutes from the paved road to the church, though it's a very short distance. But I know that the service is long, plus there are meetings afterwards (for what? I do not know.)

I started to get a little anxious when he wasn't home by 3, but I was sure he'd be home soon. I texted him around 4, just to make sure he was still breathing. He is out of texts on his cell phone plan this month (for sending texts), but I thought he could call me if he wasn't in the middle of praying or something. He didn't. I called him around 5. He just told me, "Sorry, I got stuck here. I hope I'll be home soon," and left it at that. (Later I found out they'd gone to the home of one church member who had a new baby to do a dedication service, and of course the parents fed everyone, so it took a few hours.)

So we waited. I fed the kids dinner. I ate dinner. We started getting ready for bedtime. Finally, he came home around 6:45. He said, "It's been a long day. You look worn out. Let's go get ice cream."

There is a decent ice cream shop not far from home (in a real live shopping mall), so we headed there, with the boys in pjs. Being Sunday night, the mall was super busy, so I picked up the ice cream to go, and we ate it at home. We had strawberry, coconut, and chocolate with chocolate pieces. Nate's favorite is pink ice cream (strawberry).

Then, we resumed getting the boys ready for bed. For Nate's bedtime, we always read 4 books, say prayers, then sing Jesus Loves Me. I say a prayer first, then ask Nate what he wants to thank Jesus for today. He usually thanks Jesus for his soccer ball and either Sesame Street, Super Why, or Sid the Science Kid. Sometimes he thanks Jesus for his friends, Gigi, Grandpa, other relatives as they come to mind. Since getting his typhoid and yellow fever vaccines a couple of weeks ago, he has been saying thank you for "the shot's done."

Last night, Nate said, "Thank you, Jesus, for ice cream. Oh, and Daddy's ice cream. Oh, and Mama's ice cream. And Ben's ice cream." [note: Ben did not eat any ice cream]

It was so sweet, and yes, we are thankful for a yummy treat at the end of a long day.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

relocating to Kenya: sleep

Everyone knows that when little ones' routine is disturbed, they don't sleep as well. It's to be expected that they would have a hard time transitioning, not just to a new home and different schedule, but also to a new time zone. Kenya is currently 8 hours ahead of Texas, but since we moved before DST, it was a 9 hour adjustment.

We arrived in Mombasa a few minutes past midnight, March 2. Getting to our house took some time, then our friends who brought us home stayed for a while, then the boys were wound up. It was after 3 am before we went to bed. No one had trouble sleeping.

The boys slept until 8 am for the first week, and they did have a harder time than usual going to bed for a few days, but they both took great naps, and hello! I can't remember Nate ever sleeping as late as 8 am, though I'm sure he must have.

Maybe it's because we had such a long, hard trip and we arrived in the middle of the night, or maybe it's because we maintain normal bedtimes and don't let ourselves sleep much during the day while we adjust, or maybe it's because we're just blessed, but we had no trouble with jet lag at all, as far as sleeping goes. Ben had a hard time getting his eating schedule on track. He woke up to eat every night for about the first week. Hey, it could have been a lot more difficult.

In Texas, we had taken the side off of Nate's crib so that he was in a toddler bed. We wanted him to get used to sleeping with no sides because he would have a twin bed here. When Nate's bed was set up, I had to put sheets on it around him because he loved it so much, he refused to get off! He adores his mosquito net, too. The mosquitoes are usually only out at night, and the net is hot, so I don't make him use it during naptime, but many days, he asks for it.

Ben doesn't care one way or the other about his crib or his mosquito net. The crib came with a little bassinet on wheels, which we keep downstairs. He usually naps in there so that I don't have to go up and down the stairs so much. We also use it as a play yard for him when we're outside. He sleeps in his crib at night, but he does not like to fall asleep there. In Texas, his "bedroom" was one corner of the living room. I think it's comforting to him to fall asleep listening to Rodgers and me talking, with the lights on. We put him to bed downstairs in the bassinet, then move him to his crib after he's asleep.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A day in our lives: Thursday, 15 March 2012

12:00 am – We wake up because the electricity has just gone out. It’s noticeable because we sleep with a ceiling fan (which doesn’t do much to get through the mosquito net) and an oscillating floor fan. Rodgers gets up, sprays our windows and those in the boys’ room down with bug spray so that we can open the shades with as few mosquitos coming in as possible. We try to sleep some more, but it’s hot.

5:15 am – Morning prayer wakes us up. We have one mosque close enough to be loud and 2 more that we can hear in the background. Nate wakes up and calls out to us because it scares him. I have been talking to him about the prayers from the mosques. I tell him that it’s someone singing and praying. The guy singing is far away, but very loud so that other people can sing and pray with him. We have been singing “Jesus Loves Me” when we hear it, since that's one of Nate's favorite songs. So Rodgers tells Nate to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and go back to sleep. It apparently works because we don’t hear from him for a while.

6:00 am – The power comes back on. Yay!

6:15 am – Nate is ready to get up. Rodgers gets up with him, and I manage another 20 minutes of snoozing.

6:35 am – I get up, shower, etc, then go downstairs to find Rodgers cooking pancakes. Nate and I eat, then I give him a bath in one of the laundry basins outside while Rodgers showers and eats his own plate of pancakes.

7:00 am – Ben is awake. Rodgers changes his diaper and feeds him his morning bottle. I bring in laundry that has been drying on the line overnight.

8:00 am – Rodgers leaves to find out if our desk is ready to be brought home. It was supposed to have been built over the weekend but the fundi (craftsman) was ill, so they were trying to find someone else to build it. I give Ben a bath, then sit down with a cup of coffee to check emails while the boys play. Normally our housekeeper would arrive now, but she’s been so efficient this week that she really doesn’t have anything to do today, so she’s taking the day off and will come back Friday to finish up our laundry for the week.

9:00 am – I take Nate to the potty and set an alarm for 1 hour to remind me to take him again in case he doesn’t tell me when he needs to go.

9:30 am – Ben starts getting fussy, but it’s not time for nap, yet, so I feed him his morning snack early. It’s peas and a bottle. He falls asleep before he finishes his bottle.

10:00 am – The potty alarm goes off. I take Nate to the potty. He asks for chips for snack; I tell him no. Then he asks for an apple, so I cut one up for him. He eats almost half of the apple.

10:30 am – Nate poops in his undies. At least he tells me right away! I clean him up; he tells me, “Thank you, Mama.” Then Rodgers comes home. The desk is not finished.

10:55 am – Nate wants to pee.

11:00 am – Nate tells me he wants to go to bed. It was an early morning, so he needs an early nap. We go lay down on my bed (he prefers to nap in the big bed), and he falls asleep. The potty alarm goes off again because I forgot to turn it off when Nate peed on his own. He's napping in undies for the first time – and in my bed! This is scary. I put a waterproof pad under him just in case.

11:30 am – Ben wakes up ready for lunch. He eats bananas and has a bottle, then is ready to play.

12:00 pm – I check the laundry that was still wet this morning, bring in some more dry clothes, then fold and put away. Rodgers and I make plans for the afternoon.

1:00 pm – Nate is stirring when I check on him, so I wake him up all the way. Ben is ready for a nap again, but he will wait until we leave for our afternoon errands. We eat lunch, then get Nate dressed (and exchange undies for a diaper), pack our diaper bag and get in the car. Ben naps the whole way.

2:30 pm – We arrive at the side-of-the-road copy place. Our friend works there, taking pictures. He takes passport photos for all of us. The boys are applying for Kenyan passports, Rodgers needs to renew his passport, and I need passport photos for my dependent’s pass application. Nate’s the hardest to get a picture of, but our friend has a good idea. He tells Nate to go on a walk with him. A coworker walks behind Nate, holding a sheet behind his head for the background of the photo. Our friend walks in front, backwards, and keeps snapping pictures until he gets a usable one. We are impressed! Then we get copies made of the documentation that needs to go with our applications. The copier/printer is quite slow. Nate has a snack of something like seasoned shoestring potatoes, and Ben has a bottle.

4:15 pm – We head over to the nearest Nakumat (Kenyan WalMart). We need a new mosquito net for our bed (the one that we’re using was here when we moved in and has holes in it), and we want to check out what kind of snacks they have. We’re still looking for a substitute for a certain snack that Nate loves.

5:00 pm – We come out of Nakumat. Nate’s pants are soaking wet because we forgot to change his diaper. I put a dry diaper and clean shorts on him, and we head back home.

5:30 pm – We’re still on the road, but nearly home. It’s time to eat, but it’s too late to start cooking. We stop at a new pizza place that we’ve tried before. It’s expensive compared to local restaurants. It costs about $10 to feed the 3 of us. Nate had turned his water bottle upside down in the car and shook it until a big puddle formed in his seat. So his spare pants are now soaking wet, too. He's just going to have to stay wet this time.

6:30 pm – We get home. Ben has supper of apples in cereal with a bottle. Nate plays with blocks.

7:15 pm – It’s time for the boys to get ready for bed. Nate gets a snack, and I read 4 books to him as usual. Rodgers gets Ben ready for bed. Nate and I make 2 trips downstairs to give Daddy a kiss.

7:30 pm – Nate brushes his teeth, washes his face and hands, and gets in bed. We say bedtime prayers. He knows that it’s almost time to hear the evening prayers, so he wants me to stay in bed with him until it’s over. I talk to him again about what he’s hearing. When the prayers start, we sing “Jesus Loves Me” and cuddle. When the prayers are over, I leave Nate to fall asleep on his own.

8:00 pm – Coming downstairs, I find Ben and Rodgers both asleep on the couch. How sweet! I put my feet up and check my email again.

9:00 pm – It was an early morning and a rough night, so we are ready for bed! We’re too tired to wash dishes tonight, and all that's dirty are bottles, cups, and our lunch dishes. Instead of washing, we just gather them all, rinse them, and leave them in the sink. I go upstairs and rinse out diapers from the afternoon and evening. Rodgers is already in bed. I brush my teeth, lay down, and fall asleep right away.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

We're here

We arrived in Kenya in the middle of the night Thursday/Friday morning. We have been super busy since arriving, considering we moved into an unfurnished home, bringing with us only 6 suitcases!

No time for a proper post, but I have posted pics. I think I did a good enough job with the captions for this to serve as a blog post. :D

our trip
moving in
unclassified :)