Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lily's 4th Birthday

In keeping with our birthday traditions.....here is my letter to Lily on her 4th birthday...for her to read one day when she is older....and it's a good review of her 3rd year for memory's sake.

Why am I always taken by surprise when your birthday comes around every year? When I look at you, I can't believe how grown up you are these days. You have seen a lot of change in this last year of your life, way more than the average 3 year old, and I sometimes wonder if that will have lasting consequences.....you've had your ups and downs Lily but since arriving in Uganda, you have been your happy, fun self which has been a relief to this mama's heart.  It is such a joy to see you grow into a loving, creative, independent, joyful little girl.....of course that is not to say we don't have our moments Lily....you are so fiercely independent but sometimes, you just need help Lil.....we just need to work on the asking part! :) You are getting better at 'using your words' to resolve a conflict and putting others first (that's a hard one for even mommy!). I am excited to see how the next year will grow and shape who you are.....some things that make me smile when I remember your 3rd year are:

- Your obsession with 'baby kitty' aka a pink (now brown) lemur
- The inchworm before bed
- Seeing you sitting on the floor with a pile of books around you, 'reading' to yourself
- Hearing you belt out "go tell it on the mountain" or do the actions to "Jesus loves
 me" or "deep and wide"--you love to sing and even make up songs about random
-Your pudgy little hands completing the proper 'how to wash your hands' routine
-Your beautiful blue eyes and perfect smile that light up when you laugh (your 'pee the pants' laughter is hilarious...makes all of us laugh)
- You still love mashed potatoes (you always ask Phil to make them into a 'volcano'
 with butter and ketchup (aka lava)
- You love to help with laundry, make your bed (all by yourself) and bake with me (with lots of 'taste-testing')
- Your drawings have changed over the year.....instead of the arms coming right out of the head, you now draw a proper person, complete with cheeks (circles drawn on the cheeks) and a forehead (a line drawn above the eyes) and love to make patterns on their dresses (polka dots or rainbow stripes)
- You're still obsessed with swinging.....but you are almost ready to pump yourself....I might be out of a job soon!  We also have the best chats while you are swinging....you just talk and talk and talk....I say the occasional 'ya' and 'uh-huh' but mostly I just listen to you share your heart with me
- Swimming is a highlight for you.....you like to wear goggles when you do your 'dolphin dives' in the baby pool and have graduated to doing dives (aka belly flops) in the big pool with your water wings on....and you have been practising hard on your floats and front crawl arms.....you'll be swimming with Kaitlyn in no time!
- Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night and want to sleep with Phil and I....I'm going to cherish that while it lasts
- You LOVE Kaitlyn, she is your bestest friend and from the moment you wake up to the moment you close your little eyes, you two are playing together, imagining, creating, pretending, giggling, sometimes fighting and frustrating each other but usually loving each other's company.....we are so thankful for 2 little girls who get along so well
-You still don't really care about what you wear (unlike Kaitlyn who has at least 3 outfits changes before lunch) although sometimes you exercise your will and choose a certain outfit or dress
- You are into baseball these days and have your 'stance' downpat....you never seem to give up even when you have 'swung and missed' like 20 times in a row....bad pitching from mom right? :) When you do hit the ball...your face lights up and you are that much more determined to do better the next time.....your 'never giving up' attitude is going to come in handy a lot in the future
-You are so good about being quiet when you wake up before anyone else.....reading books or playing quietly until Kaitlyn wakes up or until your tummy tells you it's time for breakfast
-You are officially OUT OF DIAPERS!!! and have done so well at night when we have to wake you up to go pee.....before you used to really dislike being moved in the night....but now....you seem to understand it has a purpose
- You have started seeing other kids as potential friends.....the other day on the swing you met a little girl and actually uttered the words "maybe we could be friends"! It was music to this social mama's heart!
-You love your daddy and always run out to wave him off when he leaves for work and when you hear the beep at the gate, you and Kaitlyn run out to wave him in
- You love taking baths, practicing your floats and bubbles, and playing with the little people
- Your sweet prayers at the end of the day.....praying about the things most important to you....family, those in need, our hearts to be changed and.....your blankie :)

Lily, I love who you are, and who you are becoming and I pray that you will continue to trust in our never-changing, always present God who will be with you no matter where you are.  When things are crazy around you, when you have to make new friends (again), when you are learning to speak a new language, when you are living in a new country/house/place for the 4th time in a year,....just know that you can place your confidence in the One who designed you, the One who created you for a very special purpose Lily......I feel so blessed to be able to walk this life with you.

I will love you for always, my special little Lily.

The Birthday Girl

Ariel Treasure Hunt

Lily means 'pure'

Another Phil Henderson Masterpiece :)

LOVED her cake!


Thank you pinterest!

Bubblegum from the ice cream

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bangers and Mash

With all the transition in January and early February....I didn't ever get around to writing about our time in England....
After packing and shipping CRAZINESS and lots of good-byes, we found ourselves at Pearson airport checking in our 8 duffel bags and giving last minute hugs to our families. We were actually leaving Canada. It was very surreal....but even though we were saying good bye to our families knowing we wouldn't see them for at least 2.5 years, excitement dominated our emotions and fortunately for me, that means I wasn't crying like a baby while going through customs. The overnight flight to England went better then I expected with the kids, I parked myself in the middle seat and after a late night meal, several storybooks and some tickling, the girls were fast asleep on either side of me, heads on my lap. We were scheduled to land in England at 7am England time (2 am Ontario time) and needless to say, I watched the whole plane have some shut-eye. Fun times. It was just me and the parents with the crying baby that stayed awake with the flight crew. Oh well, I knew that I would be able to sleep once we arrived at Ashbourne Place.
We managed to find all our bags and did some serious people watching while we waited for our ride to where the MAF training course was. The next two hours were a blur as I was desperate to close my eyes and sleep, when we arrived, I beelined for the couch and conked out. Phil woke me up half an hour later to bring me to our room and then I slept for the next 5 hours til dinnertime. We had a nice dinner (everything tastes so good when I am not the one making it!) and got a chance to explore the 'castle' a little bit. This English estate was from the 1700's and was as English as you can get with winter gardens, fire places in every room, floor to ceiling windows with wooden shutters, 20 foot ceilings that boasted elaborate designs, stone statues, greenhouse, and an old (not used anymore) dairy and butchery among many other breathtaking details. What a priviledge to have stayed there for 2 weeks.....Phil's mom (who came along to watch the girls while we were in training) was in 'British heaven' with all the history, architechture and ambiance of old England. She was just as glad to be there as we were of her!! The kids had a blast with 'Gramma' for those 2 weeks. While we learned about cultural differences, secuity measures, and lots more to prepare us for entering a new culture, the kids painted, hiked, played, went on treasure hunts, read books and had lots of quality time with grandma.  The two weeks in England flew by with just one short day when we were able to take several modes of public transportation (double-decker bus, trains, taxi) and saw Buckingham Palace, Hamley's Toy Store and various sights around London. The next day we were scheduled to fly to Uganda, say good-bye to Mom and leave for real. Again, we were excited and looking forward to just 'getting there'. The flight with British Airways was nice, and we made sure to enjoy the movies, food, drinks and the perfect air temperature....we flew in around 10:30pm Uganda time and were met by a fellow MAF pilot who ushered us past the looooooong customs line (2 planes worth of people) right up to the front (wearing a uniform gets you far here!) and within 10 minutes we were through customs, and loading our bags into the car. By midnight we were in our new home, and were welcomed by our cupboards stocked with necessities, beds made (complete with bug nets) and even a nice bouquet of flowers and some welcome cards. After a long day of travel, we really appreciated coming 'home' to those things. We crashed in our beds and I slept my first sleep under the African moon.
Here are some pics from our time in England....sorry, they are out of order....not a techy like Phil. :)

Our set-up for MAF training in England

The MAF crew

What else do you do when cardboard boxes are in abundance?
Make a bus of course!

Our farewell 

Paddington Bear made this one famous!

Almost asleep....

This is the closest we got to the Royals.

Very cool tree.

This is just very English....don't you think?

Ashbourne Place - where we had our MAF training.
(aka "The Castle")

Phil's picture taking talents....

The church we attended while at Ashbourne Place

Love this.

A little pub we had lunch at when in the town of Battle.

I just had to get a pic of one of these!

Buckingham Palace!

We're in an 'old school' London Taxi!!

I'm still traumatized about this....
Getting the 'sillies' out before the long flight

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Food court drama

Today is March 28 and we have been here now for 6 weeks! It has flown by yet at the same time, it feels like we have been here for longer than that. We have settled in fairly easily as Kampala is not that different from what we know in Canada.....well...at least the differences that are there aren't too traumatic (ie: insects are a small enough size to handle and you can get most food here and it is a good temperature etc). That being said, we are still "newbie's" here and if we follow the typical transition track.....we will hit our low in the next 6 months.....but for now, we are really enjoying our time here.

Phil's brother and his wife stayed with us for a week which was so nice! Nice to have family around and just people who know us....comforting and relaxing. We played games, had lots of chats, stayed up too late and just enjoyed each other's company. They also showed us a bit more of Kampala as they have spent time here before....and one day we ended up downtown at a mall called Garden City Mall. After surviving the drive down there, we were pretty hungry so we headed to the food court....which I was surprised that such a thing existed in Kampala.....but sure enough, we entered a court that was surrounded by different restaurants. David warned us that we were going to be swarmed by employees of the various establishments....all hoping to sell us their food. That was an understatement....as soon as we sat down, we had 8-10 guys around our table shoving menu's in hands and all talking at the same time about what we should order from their restaurant. At one point i think i was sitting there just observing all the chaos, which maybe confused the guys into thinking i was really taking in all they were saying (at the same time) about their food. David finally half yelled (you had to yell to be heard above the noise) "Thanks guys, but can you give us 5 minutes?". That seemed to work and we had about 1 minute of silence before another round of guys came over (who hadn't heard David say that) and they started suggesting food for us.... fortunately, we had decided what to order at that point so we placed our orders and we were left in peace (and quiet). No more than 2 minutes later (seriously faster than Wendy's) Phil was sitting in front of a gourmet meal of butter chicken. Wow. They really have the food court efficiency thing downpat!! The rest of our food came within the next 10 and it was delish and super cheap too. All in all, that was a crazy food court experience but a funny story to tell.

The infamous 'food court'.
On the way to Garden City Mall, we missed the turn and had to drive a little ways up then do a u-turn (but not really a u-turn cuz their was a cut out in the median and lots of cars were turning using this route) and after we did that, a policeman waved us down at the side of the road. Phil asked him how he was doing and the Officer said "not good". Uh-oh. Gulp. He said that we did a bad thing by turning around at that point like we did and that we were going to have to pay a fine of 500,000 shillings (about $120). We went back and forth about how we were new in the country, how there was no sign and that we were following others etc. and David piped up from the back seat "look....there's another car turning there....and another.....and another...." David kept on updating Phil about how many cars were turning at that point, trying to help him prove the point that there is no sign. Was it really illegal to do that or are we being pulled over because we stand out? Phil told him we had lots of time, and that we could go down to the court to pay the fine if we had to (not something the policeman wanted to hear....he was looking to get some cash in his pocket). Finally the officer said that he would forgive us but that we had to buy his fellow officer a pop. Phil said thanks for teaching him about the traffic laws and for forgiving him but that no, we couldn't buy the officer a pop because we do not pay bribes. The officer just shrugged and waved us on. Whew! Phil did a good job of talking his way out of that one. I kept on thinking about how this kind of thing would never happen in Canada.....and we have heard a 'bookfull' of stories about the police pulling people over here.....most are hilarious and some are just frustrating, but that is just a part of life over here. One that will take some serious time to get used to.

Dr. Allie checks out Kaitlyn's ear....
.a major ear infection = antibiotics,
strange thing is you can just walk in and
buy them....no prescription needed.
Poolside at the "American Club".
A cupcake for the birthday girl.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tea and a tour

I recently realized that I have not given you a tour of our home here in Kampala....so grab a cup of tea (I'd serve you some Typhoo if you were here!) and enjoy a visit with me!

Here is the front view of our house.....we were pleasantly surprised at how nice our place was.  We have a little front yard, perfect size for two little girls playing 'after dinner games' with their daddy.

This is the kitchen that has everything we need to cook and eat properly for the next three months (except there is no mixing bowl....just an 8 cup measuring cup....try making two loaves of bread in there.....a little tight!!). The stove is gas and when the power is out, you need to light it with a match......only thing is that the matches here are so short which makes for fun times trying not to burn my fingers off while lighting the stove. Other than that....it cooks great!

This is the bathroom complete with shower AND hot water!

This is the dining room where we eat our meals and also where homeschooling takes place. The girls enjoy their morning routines and look forward to circle time and school.

The girls loved their pink curtains! We have gotten used to bug nets but somehow the girls seem to get tangled up in them during the night....so I don't think the efficiency of the bug nets is exactly 100%.

Phil and I enjoy a room with a bathroom attached to it which includes a bath tub. This was very important according to Lily as she LOVES taking baths.

The living room is nice and spacious....in fact the whole layout of this house reminds me of the Prairie housing we used to live in.....not crazy big but big enough and very functional spaces and storage. We love all of the windows since there is almost always a breeze blowing through which helps on the super hot days. (this pic was taken on our first morning in Kampala....hence all the suitcases)

One of our favorite places to sit and read or hang out is on our front porch. We have a beautiful view of Kampala from our front porch and have enjoyed eating dinners out in the cool air (at night, it is often cooler outside than inside!).

Phil's brother David and his wife Allie stopped by for a week. They live in Tanzania.

This is our 'backyard' where laundry gets hung and the girls find lots of different insects to observe. Not so pretty but functional.

Our little place is beautiful and we are so thankful for a place of rest and security. Even though we are only here for another month and a half, we will make sure to appreciate this blessing we have been given.

So, now you can picture where we live, hangout, do school, eat dinner and play. Visitors welcome anytime! :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Under the African Sun

Sorry about the length of this one.....just so much to say about this place.....pics to come soon.

Well, we made it safe and sound....flights were a breeze, kids were amazing and I even snuck in watching a movie!! We arrived sometime after 10pm and met another MAF pilot who whisked us past the massive customs line up, right up to the front of the line....saved ourselves a good 2 hour wait.....loaded our 8 bags into the 4 x 4 and drove off with the warm Ugandan air blowing in our faces. After 7 years of preparation, we had finally arrived. Phil turned around and asked "what are you thinking?".....and to tell you the truth....I don't know if I was thinking....I was just taking it all in....the smells, sights, sounds of this world I had heard so much about. It was very surreal. After about a 45 min drive (Police check slowed things down considerably) we arrived at our home.....we threw our bags onto the floor and plopped ourselves and the kids into the already made beds (thanks to the MAF ladies who prepared that for us) and drifted off to a warm summer night sleep. The next morning we had some cornflakes, and then before I even had  chance to change out of my pj's....we had a visit from our next door neighbor Mel who is a very sweet single lady who has 'retired' here (aka....she is busy volunteering). Then Karen drove in (one of our friends from good ol' Three Hills, Alberta) and she helped us unpack a little..... not much to unpack, just clothes, some toys and books and phil's electronics :). She drove us back to her house for some lunch. We then got a tour of the MAF office, met a lot more people who's names I can't remember and then ended up eating dinner with another MAF family. We got home around 9pm and plopped back in our beds.  Here are some brief observations from this Canadian girl....
Roads: C-R-A-Z-Y! Need I say more? We are talking dirt roads, ditches winding down the middle of the 45 degree hill that leads to our house, 'bodas' (motorcycles) coming at you from all directions with as little as 1 person on them or a box the size of a refrigerator on the back....how DO they balance those things??, no painted white lines, cross walks or flashing pedestrian lights....just slow moving people expecting you to stop.....good thing I rarely leave second gear (haha). The roads become paved once we reach where the MAF office is but major driver awareness is needed at all times....oh and did I mention that they drive on the other side of the road here???
Food: I have eaten 6 yummy meals since we have been here thanks to some amazing MAF hospitality....lots of rice, pasta, meat sauces, cucumbers, tomatoes, chapattis (like naan bread but thinner, like a wrap but better!), steak and even ice cream! I have been grocery shopping several times (there is no 'one-stop-shop' store here....you need to go to different stores depending on what you need. I have been everywhere from a road side fresh market (food displayed on the ground, freshly picked) to a store called "Game" which reminded me a bit of Wal-Mart but not as much variety and not as big. That is where we picked up our washing machine! In general, you can pretty much get anything you want to eat here....including Heinz Ketchup (YES!) but....and it is a big BUT........it all tastes just a little different.....for example the ketchup is spicy, the butter has a chlorine taste to it, the crackers taste.....I dunno....just different.  It will just take some time to get used to it all. I cooked my first dinner here....stir fry and rice in peanut soy sauce. YUM. Looking forward to making english muffins, bread, granola, and salsa.
Water: The water that comes from the taps isn't safe to drink......so we used bottle water for everything.....it has been a hard habit to break, not turning on the tap to rinse your tooth brush or just quickly filling up your glass for a drink.....I think we pretty much have the hang of it now, but all of us caught ourselves at one time or another about to rinse our toothbrushes under the taps--no amoeba’s for us thank you very much! The water pressure in our house is about a little more than a trickle.....but hay, at least we have running water. Showers are proving a bit difficult (I really did cherish the last shower I had in England!) so we have been showering at other people's houses and at the pool. Apparently there is dirt in the pipes? Hopefully it will get fixed soon?! Other than that, washing dishes by hand is bringing me back to three hills days.....good times.
Wildlife: okay, so I'm not talking giraffe's and lions here....I am talking about cockroaches, ants and lizards.  It's wild life to me!! We've only seen and killed 1 cockroach (lets hope it stays that way...they are BEYOND disgusting), seen several lizards but they can stay cuz they eat the bugs (oh and they don't have teeth!) and ants....well....ants are just a part of our family now....they march in and out in nice straight lines.....and clean my kitchen, floor, walls, tables for me....anything that has any trace of food left on them.  :) Sometimes I am mean and clean things really really well....other times I am nice and forget to clean up the kids break fast and see 1000 of them marching in a very loooong line. :) (I have 'special' spray for that situation!) No spider sightings yet....you'll know cuz you'll hear me scream all the way from Uganda! :)

Hmm...this is getting to be a rather long post....just wanted to give you a snap shot of what I see here in Kampala.....more to come.