Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Things to see and do in Kenya!

Your in Kenya, removed from your work, friends, hobbies etc.... what do you do? (RELAX... I know, but you can only do so much of that! ) This is a recent question that has been brought up by parents with little ones who are completing their foster period in Kenya.

I always found that it was much easier to parent by keeping your children active. Sitting at home can make you stir crazy.

So what can you do with your toddler in Kenya?

Well, a wonderful Mother on our adoption board gave us this fantastic list of day trips around Nairobi. I know many of you will be able to use this information as well!

Enjoy! :)

Elephant orphanage: Program is between 11-12 everyday.  Fun and interesting.  KSH 600 (approximately  $7.50) 

 Giraffe Sanctuary.  Can easily be done with elephant orphanage and potentially one other thing in Karen. 

 Nairobi National Park  $40 for just the park. For $60 there is also an animal orphanage and nature walk. You can see giraffes, ostriches, rhinos, lions, antelopse, and zebras—however, it is also possible to see almost nothing. 

Hell’s Gate National Park animal viewing; About an hour outside of Nairobi.  Pretty park with canyons you can hike.  You can do bike and walking safaris. No elephant and very rare to see any cats. Bike rental (500 KES)  and a canyon to hike (be very cautious of flash floods in rainy season.) 

Naivasha lake  Right next to Hell’s Gate. It is possible to hire a boat ride and see hippos and all kinds of birds.
Nakuru-two hours from Nairobi. It is possible to do in a day. A beautiful park—you almost always see Rhinos. Lions are very likely. Can be done in a day. A beautiful waterfall where you can picnic. 

Paradise Lost. Camel and horse rides, play ground, waterfalls, boat riding, Mau mau caves, picnic area etc. 

Village Market. Small play area with train for small kids; Waterpark (my kids used to love), bowling alley, movie theatre, food court, and a child minding area where you can leave your kid while you shop.

Bomas of Kenya. Cultural center; traditional dance show, huts from all the different tribes of Kenya, a restaurant, arts and crafts shops (they will harass you) and playground. Often warthogs running around. 

 Highend arts and crafts store. No bartering. Nice restaurant. Small play ground. In Karen. 

Spinners Web (another nice craft store over on my side of town. 

Kazuri (women’s cooperative beads)

Kitengela Glass (glass artsy place—a big hit with many of my more artsy friends)

The National Museum - ask for a tour guide when you enter. Little ones will enjoy more than 100 stuffed birds (all Kenyan species), other animals and a real snake pit.

Karura Forest - Lovely with some beautiful falls. 

Train Museum - Always a favorite with the boys. 

Amani Ya Juu a sewing-marketing-training project for marginalized women in Africa. Shop or relax in the oasis like garden cafe. There is also a playground

 for the children.

Anything else that you may have enjoyed that I don't have on the list? Please share, and I will add it

 I'll also link this to the sidebar so we have easy access to it. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

There is no doubt...

These kids....

Are ready for a baby sister!

This weekend we were up to our eyeballs in cleaning out the garage...

At the same time, we were also looking after a friend's 2 yr old boy. The kids love this little man, and completely dote after him. 

Mister played with him all morning...

Different day - but I love how attentive he is with him, holding his hand, and always helping him. This little man looks up to Mister like he is the Moon and the Stars. XO

And Muffin did arts and crafts with him all afternoon. 

These kids literally looked after little man all day. They fed him, played with him, took him to the washroom (I only got called in for one butt wipe)...

 Muffin thought of the crafts on her own, dressed him in a smock on her own... had different painting tools for him try, like forks and straws. She's a really little Mother hen. ;)

It warms my heart to sea how nurturing and loving they are to younger children.
They cannot wait to do all these things with their little sister. 
 I know they will be such a huge help to me.

I yearn for the day to see together with their sister for the first time. It cannot come soon enough. 
(Yes, that's right. Still. no. news.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

My current reality...


Upon Boxes...

And stuff, everywhere...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pouty Face

I have been told that our Kenyan agency has not yet received the medical reports. I stayed up quite late last night to get that answer. Wish there were more details. 
 Tired, Pouty Face

Cardigan - Costco / Pout Face - No Referral

Only foreseeable option to me this morning was a coffee and a White Chocolate/Ginger/Pear Muffin. Probably worth 1000 calories.
I enjoyed every one. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tomorrow is another day...

Disappointing. :(

My agency said they did not receive anything today.

I'm tired of telling people 'tomorrow', and more importantly, I'm tired of telling my kids 'today'. Twice now, I have woken them up with 'Guess what today is?'... The first day the excitement was abundant. Today.. it was like 'Yay.'. Obviously, I will not need to stop holding my breath.

I don't know what happened... or why the information did not come in. The medicals were supposed to be picked up yesterday.

I'm a bit lost for words, as I was certain today was the day. After the news, I went and sat in the toy room and sorted beads from lego and seashells... because I just didn't know what else to do. I have so MUCH to do. Flights have to be paid for, Visa applications have to be sent off. Homeschooling reports and agendas need to be done. But I feel like this referral is holding me back. I keep saying to myself - I will finalize all this when the referral comes in. I'm playing it safe I guess. So I will continue to pack up the house, seek renters and pet sitters etc...

The amount that has to be done is quite overwhelming actually... and I'm not quite sure how it will get done. We seemed to be constantly pulled in a million directions and it's hard to focus on getting any one thing done.  I have cancelled soccer for the kids, and all any other formal lessons and activities, to give us more time on the home front.

Our date to Kenya will likely have to be pushed back another week now... there really just isn't enough time between referral and departure any more.

Sorry for the disappointing news folks, tomorrow is another day. (Hopefully!)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chill the Champagne!

Referral is going to be knocking on our doorstep this week!

Yes... Wednesday is supposed to be the day. Apparently they have been waiting on a current medical that is being picked up in a matter of hours and will be sent to our agency on Wednesday!

 Hold on... technically speaking , if they pick it up 'Tuesday in Kenya'... why would it not be forwarded to our agency the same day - meaning middle of the night tonight? Hmmm... perhaps there is a little mix up, and maybe it will be tomorrow!

Now... I have gotten myself a little worked up.

I was told that they were picking it up Tuesday and sending to it our agency for Wednesday am. Maybe they are picking it up Tuesday and forwarding it on Wednesday, which would arrive at our agency Wednesday morning. Frazzled. I'm sure I've just confused you too....

I'm freaking out on the remote chance of it arriving tomorrow. Now that I got myself in a tizzy, perhaps I should be drinking that champagne instead of chilling it!

Stay tuned dear internet friends. Either way, 'the' day will be upon us soon! :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

It's complicated.

Lately, I have been giving a lot of thought to how parenting our adopted child will be different from parenting our 'homegrowns'. I think this is a good time to start the dialogue with our family and friends about this.

Children don't come with an instruction manual unfortunately, and many times we as parents have to parent from instinct.

With our homegrowns, issues are typically straight forward. If my child were to drop her lollipop on the ground and have a hissy fit, jumping up and down and screaming like a Banshee - I would not replace that lollipop. I would assume that she either A. is tired and needs a nap or B. needs to learn that temper tantrums will not be benefit her or produce the desired outcome.

No more candy if you are going to behave that way Missy. Nah, uh. Had you behaved appropriately instead of acting like your head was about to spin around... I would have replaced that Lolli.. your behaviour certainly does not deserve another. Remember this for next time. 

I think this would have been a normal reaction for many parents.

But what if your child is adopted? Adopted children come from tough places with a past of rejection, abandonment, fear etc. Their hearts are broken and they need a lot of healing.

So - say Zahra drops her Lollipop and erupts in a 10 magnitude, full force temper tantrum... a reaction that completely does not fit the 'event'. Peaking in on the situation, some parents may say, ' That child deserves a spanking (we do NOT spank), or 'What a spoiled rotten brat, she deserves a 30 minute time out in her room.', etc. 

But what 'if' her temper tantrum has nothing to do with the dropped candy at all?

What 'if' the dropped candy opened the door and paved the way for her tears to flow... and out they pour, and pour... crying for hours. Spilling her pain and sorrow out until she has no tears left.

THIS is the case for many adopted children. They are hurting and they often need a door opened, such as this minor event to allow them to cry. Crying is part of the healing. Often times parents of adopted children can feel the tension and pain in their children and sometimes have to create a situation that allows the child to find their tears. Perhaps something as simple as saying 'no' to a request to watch TV, while they stand by ready to hold them tight while they cry and cry. Tears not for the TV, but tears for everything they have lost in their young lives and the pain it left behind.

Does this make sense?

So in this instance, putting Zahra in her room for a nap or a time out would be the wrong reaction. The right thing would be to pick her up, hold her tight and allow her a safe place for her tears to fall. Soothe her and acknowledge her pain.

 I am so sorry baby. I am so sorry your first Mama wasn't able to be a Mommy to you. It must be awful to not even know who she is or why she felt like she had to leave you. I am so sorry your first years were spent in an orphanage. I am sorry that you may have had to cry yourself asleep, alone and scared. I am so sorry I couldn't have protected you from the things that may have happened to you. I am so sorry you miss your friends and nannies at the orphanage. I am sorry you have lost the only home you knew, the only bed you knew and those who cared for you. I am so sorry that you have experienced more grief in your first  years than many people experience in a lifetime. I am so sorry baby. 

Yes, I think it's fair enough to say that she will have earned the right to cry - A LOT.

If we couple this with fact that she also is just a regular toddler or child... how the heck do you know what reaction is the right action? Of course we don't want to allow her to get away with murder and grow up to be a spoiled rotten brat. We do have to discipline and correct her... we can't always coddle her when she is upset. But how do you know what reaction is the right action?

It's a fine line here folks, and I have an image in my head of an incident taking place - Zahra pulls another child's hair, or smears poop on the wall... and I stop and do nothing, because I am analyzing it over in my head. Why is she doing this? Is she hurting? Is she acting out of ...? Do I scold her, hold her, give her a time out (in)?... and I frantically flip through my adoption parenting book looking for the answer while the situation escalates to the point of no return.

It gets complicate to the degree that as adoptive parents, you start to analyze every picture your child draws, the way they play with their ear, right down to why are they picking their nose!?

It also just isn't about temper tantrums or behaviours, but it's also about how we treat our children . Feeding them a bottle at the age of 2, 3 or 4, wearing the baby in a sling constantly even though they can clearly walk, feeding them by hand even though they are capable. What you may see as 'babying' them - is actually 'bonding' them. We missed out on so much of it, we need to go back to the beginning sometimes and try to establish it.

It's hard and it's complicated. I know a few new adoptive parents going through some of these challenges now. I try my best to offer suggestions, and to lend a ear or participate in a brain storm - but I am only a Mother of biological children. No adoptive parenting experience here. (yet)... and I find myself stumped for the answers.

So please stand behind me, support me and my judgement as her Mother. A Mother who is trying to weave through these tight tangled webs. Trust me enough to know that I am taking advantage of all the literature and advice of those who came before me to navigate my way. It may not always make sense, and we may not always get it right... but we will do the best we can.

Edit to add: I recently just stumbled upon this great blog post that can further explain how a lack of control in the decisions that were made to ones life earlier on, can explain the need for defiance (control).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Spicy Love!

A good friend of mine has generously offered to throw an Epicure party to help with our adoption expenses.

I LOVE Epicure. If you have never tried it... I would really encourage you check out their catalogue.  Some amazing new flavours for the Fall/Winter '12 Catalogue!

A note from my friend:

"If you are interested in purchasing some spices etc - you can do so at this link.

 It will be attach to the Thompson Fundraiser. As soon as you check out, it gets shipped right to your door in 24 - 72 hours! At the end of the month, they can pick there free shopping spree items, and either choose half price items, and hostess gifts or draw a name and let someone else have them....


Lots of sweet Christmas ideas! Let's get all your shopping needs done...  "

I don't know about you, but I am sooo looking forward to trying out the new
Maple Bacon Sea Salt!!

NAC meet - Sept

Is to be held on the 19th. Not this week as hoped. :( Good luck to all those who are still waiting!!

Speaking of luck... you'll never guess what happened today. Flat (like blown) tire on the van. Ugh... it's comical really. At least that is the approach I have decided to take today. So it's now parked down at the lake and we have to get it towed because Dan couldn't get the spare out.

BUT - we have been told that we can expect news very soon, they are just waiting on one more paper. ;) Yipee!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


The van died before it had a chance to get stolen. :(
It won't change gears out of park. Unfortunately, we have no choice but to pay to get it fixed now, we need to get to work and school... and Calgary to leave for Kenya! $$$

May's little problem in the back end miraculously fixed itself. When we got back from Kenya, she was back to normal! What a relief! Must have been that honey! ;) She still has not laid an egg since, so we are hoping that the problem does not reappear when she does lay again.

And... we still have no referral. I must get asked 5 times a day about it.  I have nothing - no information. at. all. We were told 3 weeks ago that they were expecting it in 2 weeks. I emailed our agency last week and still have not heard back from her. Ugh.

Canadian adopting friends of ours in Kenya found secure, affordable housing in a new development. 2 bdrm apartment for 400,000 KSW. Fourways Junction Phase 1. Check it out! The grocery store is 2km away, so walking distance at least. ;) It's not furnished, but to completely furnish it will cost approximately $2K, which you can recoup when you leave by selling it. We like this area and many of our friends live around there - so I think this may be a good option for us.

I'm still waiting on the kids' updated passports, then I will be able to confirm flights and apply for visas.

NAC meeting has not been confirmed yet, but they are hoping it will be on the 11th - if not, the 19th. ;)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Spontaneous Combustion

I think I mentioned before that we had to drive 4 hours to get the kids' passports? Perhaps on Facebook..

The trip ended up being a nightmare.

It started just as we left. The reverse signal light died. So we stopped at a gas station, and as Dan turned the engine off... I notice it sort of rumbled to a stop.

He put a new bulb in and jumped back in to the van, ready to get on our journey that we were already late for.

It was a scorcher of a day, and the kids and dog were all panting in the back seat. I clicked the button to roll the windows down... and nothing. So Dan stopped the car, reversed back to the gas station and popped the fuse lid while I looked in the manual to see what fuse it was.

We replaced the fuse and nothing.

Back in the car, we decide we will stop at the dealership in the next town. Driving down the road... 30 degrees outside is when we realize that not only do the windows not work - but neither does the air conditioning! One window in the van rolled down 4" is the only thing that stopped us from a complete melt down in that van.

A stop at the dealership resulted in nothing. They had no time to help us. Passports and timing was of most importance, so back on the road we get. Hot and sweaty could be kept at a minimum so long as we were still moving as some air flow would come in through the vents. It still did not stop Mister from vomiting about half way there though.

We stopped at a gas station to let the dog breath and clean Mister up to find that they don't have a public washroom. I can't tell you how mad that made me. So I used some paper towel from the gas pump and some water I had in the van to wipe him off.. and then I dumped the puke bucket (never leave home without it) on the side of the gas station property. (That'll teach them! ;)

Back in the van... we now notice the radio also does not work, nor does the lighter input for my phone. Ugh.

Fast forward - passports done and Dan drops me off at the mall to get school shoes for the kids while he goes to the dealership there.

They don't have much time, but did offer to check all the fuses (all good) and then offer the advice to clean the battery connections. So Dan runs to Canadian tire and buys the tools to do so... cleans them all up, and nothing. By this time, we have also discovered that not only is the van completely haywire - but it does not shut off. That's right - turned off, keys out, engine still running. So now he is having to disconnect the battery to get it to shut off. Lovely.

In the van... ready to head home. It's dark and it's starts to rain. Flick on the windshield wipers and NOTHING. Windows start to fog up... no defrost. Then we realize that the lights don't work - unless he holds on the high beams! Are you kidding me right now?!

I looked at Dan... "2 kids in the van, up a mountain pass at night, in the dark, in a van that is completely screwed up... is simply crazy. We need to go back."

We certainly didn't plan for an expensive night in a hotel, but at least they took pity on us and extended Dan the seniors rate. Ha!

So now our crazy van remains 'unfixed'. We have just spent $600 on it in the last month, and Dan believes this problem is $1000 fix... so it remains broken. The 'options' may not work... but one thing it does do is run, so much so that it refuses to we still drive it. It just has to last another month before we are off to Kenya, and we know we will have to hope for perfect weather on our long journey to Calgary for our departure, in addition to no night driving.

But there is more that I secretly hope for. Spontaneous combustion is one.... and should I mention that if any criminals out there are looking for a good target - it's blue, and can likely be found still running on a street somewhere... just waiting for it's next 'adventure'.

But please, whatever happens...  make sure it does not come back to us in one piece. Thank you.

Update: In the end, the problem turned out to be a fault with the Remote Starter. Once the remote starter was removed - the problem was gone. $100 at the Garage. THANK goodness!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sisterly Love

I believe I got a few of you with my last post. Judging by how many of you read it anyway... readership went through the roof. Glad to see your all still awake!

Honestly, I really had my sister in mind when I wrote that. My sister who stalks my FB, my blog, and is my most frequent texter and caller. I think she just may be more exciting about this than we are. (Well... at least overwhelming details seem to be squelching my excitement these days.)

I just knew that within minutes of posting that post - I would hear from her! And here it is....

And yep... I'm still laughing... 


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Meet Margaret!

Margaret Ngami

No, this is not a referral - Margaret (on the left) is our sponsor child with Plan Canada.

Did I fool you?
 That wasn't very nice of me was it - lol... I know many of you are eagerly anticipating our referral as much as we are! When I saw this photo, I knew it just had to be done! Sorry about that. (Insert evil laughter...)

Margaret is 10 years old... one year older than Muffin. We have sponsored her for over 6 years now! Yes, before we ever decided to adopt, and certainly long before we decided to adopt from Kenya. What are the chances of that?

These last photos above were taken 2 years ago. The ones below are older. 

(So glad they got a new camera!) 

Margaret, from what I can tell, lives alone with her Mother who is 32 (similar in age to me). 

We will be visiting Margaret in Kenya and look forward to bringing her a backpack filled with gifts, hopefully in time for Christmas. 

I have purchased a few back packs that a few friends of mine have sponsored to fill for other children in their village. 

I will have to think about what to get her Mother from Canada...

We very much look forward to visiting her. It will be a fantastic opportunity for the children to see how 'real' Kenya lives. It will also bring them a deeper connection with our sponsor child and hopefully show them the importance of lending a hand, and how a little can go a long way in helping someone less fortunate. 

Our sponsorship dollars do so much for not only Margaret, but for their village as well. 

If you would like to consider sponsorship - please visit Plan Canada

2yr old Chiwaya is waiting in Kenya for a sponsor. 
With Plan Canada you can choose the age, gender and location... right online! ;)

Monday, September 3, 2012


956 days into this adoption journey.
14,500 km's away from Kenya.
7 hours of driving & 17 hours of flying
Nairobi has an altitude of 1680 m / 5500 ft (Which keeps the weather moderate)
1145m / 3750 ft higher than Nelson!!
2 rainy seasons - March to May, November to December
Average summer temperature of 24 degrees.
More than 80 major species of animals.
3,000,000 population of Nairobi.
2.5 million orphans in Kenya.
Soon to be 1 less.