Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Giving thanks for toilets

I sit here a week after Thanksgiving, and am giving thanks for so much.

Family, friends, face book acquaintances, people I  have never met.

I have to admit, that since sitting down to seriously start Ameena Project at the end of August that I have had some serious moments of DOUBT and FEAR and ANXIETY.

I knew  that Ameena Project  could commit to the people and community of Kiang’ombe.  But what I didn’t trust was whether we could rally the support and financial means to provide the resources to do so.

With faith even as small as a mustard seed, amazing things can still happen….

Not knowing if we would continue to draw in the financial support needed to cover subsequent monthly expenses, we wired funds to Kenya in November to buy all start up supplies and to begin paying staff salaries.

Mercy, our head teacher, emailed immediately with this response as the work began on the construction of necessary new toilets at the school location in Kiang’ombe:

“….we are avoiding expensive materials since the villagers are eager that the project commences and they don’t want the toilet to be a hindrance. They were even ready to construct and leave it uncemented so long as it starts…..The place [of the toilet]  is more of a quarry [heavy rocks ] and digging [down] feet is a task of it’s  own kind , but they are hard working I can’t complain.  We’ve opted to continue and know where  it will take  us .  Meanwhile, we are shopping on start ups , only priorities and the rest can wait, and also trying  to shop before the prices are affected due to the festive season.  Blessings to those of Ameena Project.”

There continues to be great excitement among the community of Kiang’ombe, and among the staff supported by Ameena Project.  Already, in this partnership, Hillary & Mercy are learning to work together, look for local solutions (rather than just  answers from us, the wazungu), and to problem solve and administrate within their means.  They are increasing in their ability to lead change in their community and in their own lives.

This is something to be incredibly thankful for!

And, to encourage it all, and to put my doubt, anxiety and fear at bay……support for Ameena Project came in this month in unexpected ways and amounts.  I hope to share more of those stories soon!


In the thick of it!

Today is December 8th, and I find myself in the thick of the Christmas crazy hustle and bustle.

I listened to a wonderful segment on the radio about scheduling in “the ordinary” during the holiday season, just so you can have enough time at home….to get all the ordinary done.  Laundry, cleaning, feeding, email, bills, grocery shopping.  You block out a few days a week….to just do the ordinary…and when someone asks if you can do something/go somewhere/attend something, you’ve already got plans!

This afternoon, I’m trying to do the ordinary and be at home, and get a few things done….along with a few Christmas tasks.

First on the list of Christmas tasks to accomplish:  Christmas cards.

I was THRILLED beyond belief to find a link of a girlfriends blog for free Shutterfly Christmas cards for bloggers. For years now we’ve done a photo Christmas card from this site as well as other fun products.  I am LOVING how many options there now are for Christmas cards….photo  cards, stationary stock, stationary folding  etc.  I’ve made about 5 different cards that I hope to choose from in the next day or so. 

Here are a  few of my options, you’ll have to wait for the mail to see what I end up choosing, but you can make one for yourself, and take advantage of the free cards for bloggers if you do so before this weekend!

If I had just one adorable photo, I’d probably have to go for this card that is available this year.  I love the colors, graphics,fonts, everything:

These are 2 of our past photo cards:

Here are a few of the things we have enjoyed creating over the years!

and then we’ve made a variety of mugs, which you can explore here:

While these ones were made for Father’s Day a few years back, I love the idea of them for easy and inexpensive gifts for family who are far away from us!

And last but not least, I’ve eyed this product for a while yet, and I think that this year might be the year that I bite the bullet and get it done!  I’d love to have one of our favorite Kenyan pictures turned into some art for our home!   I see a picture very similar to this one, just of my toes peeking out over the Indian Ocean….

I can’t wait to get this Christmas project off the ground and into the mail for all of you….if you are one of our wonderful friends in Kenya, please be so  kind to either Facebook your address to us, or email it to:, so I can send you our card!

Christmas: The unusual (Part 2)

So, part 2 of Christmas was our (ok solely Ian’s) acceptance of an invitation to a local family’s house for dinner.  This family lives in the Umoja slum right next to Karibu Centre.  The family is quite nice, and we had them for dinner once after the dad, Anthony, invited himself over.  Hey, at least he’s a go-getter!

When Anthony, called to confirm our “Christmas reservation” for his house a few days before, he indicated that we needed to come for the ENTIRE day.  I about died.  “No way” I mouthed to Ian.  Ian negotiated it down to 2 hours…from 11 to 1pm.  We figured we could do our Christmas morning, go to the slum and eat a little, then come home for a regular, traditional type Christmas meal to end the day.

Are we still naive???  Haven’t we learned that the plans never go as laid in Kenya?  We walked to their house, which Ian amazingly found among all of the corrugated metal walls running down one alley in the slum.  Our 2 hours turned into 4 hours of hanging, watching raw goat be turned into BBQ’d nyama (meat), Kukuyu blood sausage, and child play toys.  Here are some pics to give you a better idea:

Ian stayed for over 8 hours and represented the family well.  Megan, I and the kids wimped out after 4 hours.  The pregnancy was the only excuse they couldn’t argue with.  What do you say to a woman who says she needs to “rest”?  Ian was a sport.  He came home sicker than a dog, laid on the floor and later rid his body of way too many goat parts that should not be eaten.  Remember that stuffed stomach?  He ate that, and about every other part of a goat that can possibly be eaten.    Yuck.

Anyhow, I can’t imagine having a Christmas meal like this again!  What an experience!

Christmas: the usual, part 1

Ok, this blog is all messed up because the pictures won’t post like I want them to….but it’s just gonna have to do! 

We woke up on Christmas to a very traditional time.  Stockings filled by Santa, a yummy breakfast made by dad, and presents under the tree. 

Now, the stockings might have been stickered up plastic bags, and the tree may have been very plastic and a bit pathetic, but I don’t think the kids noticed at all!  

We had Lucy's bag be the bag we all affectionately call the "poo bag" on account of it looking like all of the ones dog owners carry around in the States. Kenyans love them and use them to carry EVERYTHING! The adults got a kick out of her stocking.


Underneath our tree was pretty full thanks to family and our Portland care group!


The kids thoroughly enjoyed all of their treats, as did Ian, Megan and I.  I was pleasantly surprised by the number of thoughtful thank  you’s coming out of the 3 year old and 4 year old mouths!  Seriously, I don’t think we had one typically impatient 4 year-old comment all day….well, not until the lego building began, but that’s a bit understandable.  Dad worked on Eli’s transformer  for a while, and then mom took over, resorting finally around 8pm to a tutorial on youtube.  Seriously, what 4 year old can transform Optimus Prime on their own?  I dare you to find me one!  It definitely wasn’t our 4 year old pirate.  Lucy thoroughly enjoyed her  dolls, color wonder, books, paper dolls & miniature figures, art  and her stocking stuffers.  She is turning into quite the little organizer, insisting that everything be put away just so.  Her Christmas clothes remain folded still, in the living room, as she would not hear of me putting them away in her closet.  Ian enjoyed his gifts of clothes and new running shoes, and enjoyed getting to shop for himself in Nairobi.  I loved my purses, soaps, clothes, books, coffee, and coffee mug.  I am sure that I am leaving things out, but we had a wonderful time!
At around 11 am, we got ready for Christmas, the unusual.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of the day!

A Kenyan Halloween


I’ve never been real keen on the idea of Halloween….except that I love the whole costume and candy part.

Around the first part of October, we received an email from the Embassy warden, who is basically an American in our area of Kenya assigned to keep other ex-pat Americans up-to-speed on security announcements and other general information.

This was a different kind of announcement though!  A flyer about a community picnic/trick-or-treat party put on by the American Chamber of Commerce.  I have been excited about the prospect of a costume party since hearing about it.

We got the kids all costumed up, Eli a lady bug and Lucy a fairy.  Not bad for Africa:


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The trick-or-treating ended up being kind of a trick because there really wasn't much candy

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Her face paint started out pretty....



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Working the beard...on the International School Campus in Nairobi


Finishing the day with driving the 4-wheeler at the mall