Posts Tagged ‘Gross’


Today we celebrate one wonderful year of having Ameena in our lives.  

What a full year this last one has been. 

Being pregnant while living in Africa was interesting.  I felt healthy, but had more physical symptoms than with any of my other children.  Crazy high blood sugar that I monitored much less than I should have—seriously, you think they have glucose meters and testing strips there?  I think the chemist laughed me right out of his pharmacy when I asked about it.  About 4 months into the pregnancy my in-laws were kind enough to bring a meter and strips…and I rationed those babies out til almost a month before the baby was born.   I perfected a pretty good routine of walking a brisk path from our house to the Centre office, around the playground and back to the house…generally before I started dinner as darkness falls quickly and routinely every night there by 7pm.  On some evenings if my sugar was especially high I’d lay on the thin rug covering our concrete floor in the living room and do the “bicycle” like I was escaping town.  I’m sure it looked humorous, but it was pretty effectively in bringing the sugar levels down.

I also dealt with some horrid lower back pain which was in no way helped by the fact that we did all of the washing by hand until mid November.  Unlike our Kenyan househelp who would come twice a week and stoop to do the laundry, I happily seated myself on our little green plastic stool to dunk the clothes in and out of the bin.  The laundry (aka shower room) was my home for good parts of the day.  Sometimes I’d go to stand, and would cry out in pain……it seemed like the only relief would come from going into the child pose.  Many a Kenyan walked into our home in the evenings and found me there in the middle of the room practicing some good ol’ yoga.

I also suffered a great deal more nausea than usual.  This was not helped by the schizophrenic driving conditions we navigated on a daily basis.  One day, when driving with Megan into Nairobi I had to pull over to vomit on the side of the road.  We had just passed through a rural town and I carefully picked the pullover spot to ensure that it would be free from the usual roadside gawkers.  I got out of our car, crossed in front of the car to the side of the road and bent down to vomit.  Out of no where  a group of school kids appeared and in broken English began to ask questions like, “Why the muzungu vomit?”  “Muzungu vomit?!?”  “What wrong pretty lady?” as they pointed at me.  Megan yelled from the car for the kids to go away.  They were unphased.  I quickly signaled for her to take the wheel and climbed into the car hoping to escape their curious stares and prying questions.  A staff member at the Centre later informed me that Kenyan’s have all sorts of beliefs about white people:  1)  We never vomit   2) If we are in the sun too long, our skin might melt  3) We can get anyone into the US and so on.

Even my delivery with Ameena was interesting and so Kenyan.  I was pretty determined to not have to have an epidural during this delivery…I mean I was at a nice hospital, but crazy stuff happens in a 3rd world country and I didn’t want first hand experience.   Having had my first two babies in the US, I was used to nurses coming in and out, checking the vitals, seeing how “far along” things had progressed, bringing in ice chips, wiping down your forehead, fluffing the pillows, telling you what a great job you were doing.  Pretty high standards.  While I did get a visit from my doctor at 9 am, I had labored all morning mostly alone and had walked my room (not a delivery room) wondering when someone might come to check on me.  I parked myself on that labor ball and counted the floor tiles in my room.  There were a good 30 tiles that I could count through on every contraction.

Same position for about 5 hours….and all I could get on t.v. was the election of a new Prime Minister in England. Torture.

Ian finally arrived back from breakfast (it’s never an easy trip in Kenya) at about 10am and after one good look at me went for a nurse.  She came back and decided we better MOVE!  We barely got into that Labor and Delivery room, had me on the ball and in a position to see a good 30 tiles when DANG that pain ramped up.  I started to panic and asked if we might put that sweet bathtub to use.  I’d always wanted to try it during labor.  True to Kenya again, the nurse indicated that it would take a while to get some hot water into it. I was willing to wait.

My body wasn’t.  My water popped like a good summer water balloon.  Ian and I later cringed over the thought of that birthing ball rolling over to the corner of the room without a second look from staff.  Gross.
I really started to panic.  No hot bath.  Was there anything else I could have?!?  PLEASE?  You know that moment.
The nurse started babbling about laughing gas, but that we would need a fetal heart rate first.  She got me up onto the delivery table, strapped that monitor on my belly and started to fiddle with the machine.
At that moment, I went a little CRAZY.  The pain was insane.  I starting that horrible writhing around and ripped the belt off of me.  The nurse (Yes, only one) was a little taken aback by my behavior and decided to check me.  “Just 7 cm” she pronounced.  I wanted to kill her.  7 freaking centimeters?  Was she high?
She proceeded to get on her cell phone (nope, no landlines, not even in the hospital) to call my doctor on over…..and as she did, I think I made some vulgar comment about either having a major bodily function happen or I was having this baby. 
“NO!” everyone (ok the nurse and Ian) yelled.
“Whatever” I thought….and you know what?  I pushed that freaking (sorry Ameena) baby out as that darn nurse about had a stroke (trying to hold the phone and put on her dang gloves) while yelling out into the hall and Ian jumped to keep this surprise from dropping on the floor.  The nurse  recovered, and quickly grabbed her goo basin to put at the end of the table and took over for Ian in holding Ameena.  Poor Ian slumped and an additional nurse who had just walked in grabbed his arm and a paper bag for him to breathe into.  Poor  guy.  Too much blood, too much gross, too much baby–all way too fast.
Not enough doctor.  She sauntered in 10 minutes later to check everything out.   All I could think was, “Man, I still have to pay her delivery fee and she didn’t even deliver the baby!  But then again, it’s a good thing we don’t pay them for how long they “attend” or some of us would have some ridiculous bills!
With all that said, it has been quite a ride Ms. Ameena.  The first 3 months of your life in Kenya have made these last 9 months in the US pale in drama, but I wouldn’t trade a second of it.  You are everything God intended you to be for our family.  Without a doubt I can say that we all adore you and are thankful for the gift that you are to all of us. 
Baby, you were worth the wait.

Sunday lunch

We joined a small group from church. For you non-churchies…that is just a way of saying being assigned a group of friends that you meet with to socialize, and support, and study with.

We’re trying to expand our social circle a little…’s a big adjustment to go from many close, close friends in Portland to very few here.

The other families in our group have been in Kenya for almost 10 years each. They’re old pros.

As old pros, they suggested that we go to lunch at Diamond Plaza. The best Indian food around they advertized.

This Diamond Plaza is a place we pass all of the time and cringe….because the traffic is always so backed up there. Crazy drivers going every direction at once. We arrive and the lot is PACKED OUT. Ian, being his forward self asks the security guard who they are saving the “Reserved” spot for. The guard doens’t answer Ian, but tells him he can park, “Right Here”. We took it. No hunting. Good job Ian.

We walk through the plaza which is filled with every kind of shop you would imagine that you would find in India. This truly was like “little India”. Electronics, knock off kids Diesel jeans, rugs & scarfs, buddhas or other gods I’m not aware of…..

And then we arrived outside to the food court. Holy cow!


I ordered a mango juice and an avocado juice.  They came mixed together.  Not what I anticipated, but good anyhow! 

Here is a sampling of the other food we ordered:









Happy Birthday Ian!

Today (8/22) we celebrate Ian’s birthday!

He’s a big whopping 35 years old.  He is an amazing husband, father, friend and leader!  I am so proud of everything he has directed here in Africa.  He really knows how to get things done!

Here’s what he looked like when we were first married, I think this was at a casino in Tahoe when we were there for a relatives wedding:

Ok, well this was almost 4 years into marriage

Ok, well this was almost 4 years into marriage










Here’s what he looks like today (in all of his full beard glory):


Note:  I pulled this self portrait from Ian's BEARD file on the computer

Note: I pulled this self portrait from Ian's BEARD file on the computer











I went to the market here in Makongeni and designed/ordered a pair of sandal type shoes for him earlier in the week.  The man assured me they would be ready by yesterday.  Silly me,  I forgot I lived in Kenya and believed his time frame.

I went to pick up the shoes yesterday late afternoon after work and…..they weren’t ready.  They hadn’t even been started.  ARGGH.  But, he did have a huge gigormous pile of about 30 other sandals he had made sitting there on the workbench.  When I enquired what they were for, he replied, “Nairobi”.  Dang, I don’t think my 1 shoe order can compare to the demand of the Nairobi market!

Anyhow, at least Ian gets some birthday loving from the kids (complete with way too early morning back scratching) and a birthday outing, dinner & cake.


So, we went out for our birthday adventure to explore new places of Nairobi with Ian & I both feeling a bit under the weather.  Our explorations to 2 new places in Nairobi were dampened (literally) by ran and horrible traffic.  In total, we probably spent 4-5 hours in the car (with 2 preschoolers) in traffic.  Not the best way to spend the day when you aren’t feeling well, let alone on your birthday.

Megan and I drug Ian and the kids to the Toi Market which we discovered last week.   We thought it was WONDERFUL!   Ian described it as his worst nightmare, but here he is in a rare moment looking at something in the market:


Looking for new *old* pants

Looking for new *old* pants











Eli enjoyed the market, especially because vendors kept trying shoes on him:


the vendor trying to cram Bob the Builder sandals on Eli

the vendor trying to cram Bob the Builder sandals on Eli

When we got home, Megan and I worked at making dinner and Ian’s birthday cup-cakes:
August 09 241
August 09 242
We ended Ian’s birthday by lighting the candles on his birthday cupcakes and singing happy birthday to him with his parents who had just skyped in.  But, because it had been less than a *perfect* day already, Eli added some drama by throwing up his last tiny, tinybite of soup and then some that dad had somewhat insisted he eat..all over himself, the chair and the floor.  We had to take a little break before we felt ready to eat cupcakes after seeing and cleaning that up.  But in the end, the cupcakes were delish and we all went to bed happy and full.

Until now, diapers seemed normal

You know how in the states you just assume that any kid who is NOT potty trained is pretty much in diapers or some type of equivalent?   Silly me for assuming that such would be the case here!

I guess in the program planning here we (or at least I) didn’t consider that there would be little kids wandering around letting nature take it’s course wherever and however….without diapers, or nappies, or underwear.

Let me paint a visual picture for you girlfriends there in Portland with young ones.  Imagine a Portland Public Parks, or Tualatin Hills Parks Play Gym day….with 50 little kids…..all without diapers or underwear!!!  And no experience using toilets.

So, it truly is a miracle that we have not been peed on or pooped on more than we have.  Megan takes the award for actually having a kid poop on her while sitting on her lap.  That whole wet, warm feeling when it shouldn’t be there!!!  I haven’t had the pleasure, just some piddle all over my pants.  I have had the not so awesome pleasure of having to clean up after some kiddos have stood in class and just let loose….wow…I don’t know about you, but I hardly enjoy cleaning up my own kids poo, let alone someone elses when it is all over their pants, their legs, all the way down to their socks and shoes.

With all of that said, these little kids are making amazing progress….in just a few weeks time they have gone from being clueless over how to to use a squat toilet and running wild all messy to being able to walk single file in a cute little duckie type line to the bathroom where they are able to potty and wash appropriately.  That is a great life skill!

So, if you have any grand ideas on how we can move (a whole group of children from the slums whose parents can’t afford diapers, let alone a single nappie or plastic pants) to something more hygienic for all of us, let us know!  We thankfully have some extra baby/toddler clothes on hand here at the center, so we can change them into something clean and dry.  You are all welcome to always send over any used clothes 6months – 4 years on over, they are always put to good use.

And this would be?

So on Friday after the program let out I took Megan in to the Makongeni market with me to do a little veggie shopping. She had been to the market previously with Ian, but on an off day…one with very few vendors and a crazy man screaming at them that they didn’t belong here in Africa, and to go back home. Not a great first market experience.

We walked to the market to avoid all of the trouble taking a car into the market can cause, and were there in no time. It is just a little bit across Garissa Road from the Karibu Centre. We made a short side trip to the post office to pay the electricity bill (which costs pretty much the same as in the States) and then entered through the main market gate.

It didn’t take long to find the vendors with pineapple, avocados, carrots and tomatos and then I convinced Megan to browse the purse and clothing vendors with me. We thought this purse would be perfect for her:


So did the vendor.

After browsing the clothing and not finding anything, we turned home. We decided to take the back path from the market to the Makongeni Police Station that allows one to miss most of the Garissa Road traffic. On the way I enjoyed seeing Megan’s face as we passed the various butchers with entire carcasses hanging in their windows. Then we saw a man cooking what looked like sausages on a grill.

It wasn’t readily apparent what kind of sausages they were. I think he said they were pork or beef. I really can’t remember because all I could see were the huge chunks inside of them. No Jimmy Dean sausage here.

I dared Megan to eat some. She took my dare. I didn’t really think she’d agree, and then I was stuck!

This is what we were faced with eating, I wish I’d gotten a picture of the sausage before the butcher made these slices:


Then I figured that if I said, “No, you go first!” that Megan would chicken out and we wouldn’t have to eat them.

She didn’t. Here’s the proof:


I couldn’t believe that she popped the whole thing in her mouth at one time. Then I had to pony up and eat one too. It looked worse than it tasted. Mostly, it tasted like salt. I’m not usually a chewed gum saver, but in this case we had both saved our gum so we could quickly pop it in to rid our mouths of the taste.


Phew, am I glad that’s over! That’s about as close as I’m getting to Fear Factor.


One stop shopping

This is a short post, but I had to share my horror or perhaps laughter???

My house help Esther asked if we could stop on the way to her house at the dentist so she could get some medicine for her son who just had a tooth extracted.

I waited in the car while she ran and got it in Mokongeni.

She returned, hopped in the car and we were off.

As we drove, she pointed out the building where the dentist practiced.   Then she added:

He does dental work, and circumcision too.

I turned to her aghast, and explained that in the States those two things would never be practiced together.

Seemed perfectly normal to her. 

A new business concept?

Trust me, there really weren’t any appropriate pictures for circumcision.  Try a google image search yourself.

Sniff, sniff

In talking with my twin brother Andy and his wife Kori last night
, Ian and I realized that we have not done a post of the “smells” of Kenya. There are some things here that after a week or two, you just start to take it for granted and you forget how unique or different it is.

That is the amazing ability of the mind….to filter out routine or non-threatening stimuli so that your mind can remain alert for new and possibly threatening stimuli. I started an amazing book before I left that talks about this: The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dogby Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz The book talks about the effects of trauma on children (and people for that matter) giving true life case studies. It has a bit of everything….neurology, psychology, funny, sad.

Anyhow, back to the topic of smells. Everything here smells stronger. Whether it is the pollution, or trash being burnt (that’s how most people get rid of their trash…remember my horror of Lucy’s burning diapers wafting in my window), or the trash just sitting by the side of the road,

OuterRing Road Nairobi
or Jikos cooking lunch/dinner (a  jiko is a ceramic container held in a metal frame that utilizes charcoal, or another heat source for cooking), or body odor (yes, American are obsessed with smelling clean compared to anywhere else in the world), or the smell of raw sewage (we are SOO lucky to have the city sewer line run right through our property) when the main pipeline gets backed up, or the many smells that emminate from a herd of cows or goats walking down the highway by your car Just goats...,

or untreated industrial waste water, or chemicals used on fields.

There is a constant barrage of smells coming at one here, and after a while, the mind tunes them out and you stop smelling them.

We discovered that this was happening when Ian noticed that he was having to wear about 5 sprays of cologne every day rather than the usual 1 spritz it would take at home. He has to use that much just to compete with all of the other smells that are assaulting the nose on a regular basis here.

We had to laugh at the fact.

That and the fact that if a Kenyan (Ok, not every Kenyan, but most) rides in the car with us the smell of B.O. lingers for a LONG time. But geez, you can’t blame them…most of them hardly have enough money to make ends meet let alone worry about buying and applying deodorant.

Ian says he kind of likes the smell of B.O. here. Figures. If you know Ian, it wouldn’t surprise you that he says that! It just gives him the opportunity to try “something new” and go on another deodorant fast.

Chris Livingston: no cancer from deodorant aluminum for Ian.