Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...


....wait a minute, it's sunny and warm with an explosion of spring flowers - is it really Christmas time?

Zavi is a little confused and thinks it should snow. Cue the geography lesson complete with globe and hemisphere description ... True, the last couple of years, we've been in FL and NC for the holidays which aren't exactly wnter wonderlands themselves, but last year (and probably the only one he remembers,) we did have a blizzard in Wilson, NC and lots of snow to play in on Christmas day!!

But, I'm pretty sure he can handle the change...

We've been doing our best to get into the holiday spirit around here...

Zavi and Eliza spent an afternoon making Christmas cards for all the kids and teachers in their class. They did an awesome job - drawing something personal for each kid and doing all of the writing of names themselves. It was quite an endeavor - I was impressed with their staying power!!

working hard... note the tongues

Last weekend we decorated our Zimbabwean Christmas tree.

Interesting tree, isn't it?

Defnitely decorated by kiddos

Working on the little baobobs

Miles giving his dad a nice card that he made

The next day, we made cookies at Vaughn's house. Again, I was impressed with how long it kept the kids' interest. Pretty colorful, too.

Well said, David!

They tasted as good as they looked!

'The Grinch' and 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' rounded out a fun weekend...

THIS weekend David and Katy (and me by association) were invited to an ugly sweater Christmas party. Now, given the climate here this time of year, you can imagine the impossibility of finding Christmas sweaters (and we looked!) SO, we improvised...


Festive enough? People weren't quite sure what to make of David, however...

My favorite picture from the night.

Tomorrow, Daddy Jack and Anne arrive for a whole new adventure!! Happy holidays!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Show Stoppin' Cuteness

Last week, Zavion and Eliza's class put on a play for all the parents. Oh. My. God. How cute! This was Zavion's performing debut and couldn't help myself from welling up with tears. Looking around, I wasn't the only parent getting misty eyed!! Here are some highlights:

Zavion the frog making his entrance. Note the cool frog's head he is wearing. In just a moment, he pulls the headpiece back, so his head is sticking straight out of the frog's mouth - with eyes and nostrils lolling about on the back of his neck. Oh well. He is still sporting quite the costume.

Eliza the bee making her entrance.

Here they are!!
Zavion saying his line, "Did you know that all that living things grow?"

Eliza's line, "My teacher says she is not an octopus- she only has two hands! After which, she ad-libbed, "Hey, I made a joke!"

"Can you hop like a frog? Ribbet Ribbet"

Have I mentioned how cute these little buggers are?

After the show, David took us all out for a celebratory lunch/milkshake. Eliza wanted to wear her whole costume and Zavion...? He just wanted to wear his tights.

Window shopping.

Never mind that his Thomas underpants were on full display through the tights. Didn't bother him a bit. (I'll probably have to remove this picture eventually when he is old enough to be embarrassed...)

Zavi also got his school pictures taken. I ordered some, but have no idea if they'll come in before we leave. In the meantime, here's the proofs. I especially like the one of the three of them!

Yesterday was their last day of school. There was an assembly and the school sang 'Happy Trails' to all those kids leaving - including little Z. It was special and there I was all misty-eyed again. Have I mentioned how much we've enjoyed this school? Zavi had a great term, made some wonderful friends and learned a lot. For the first time, he really enjoys sitting and coloring/drawing/writing and has a new level of confidence in these activities. It was also wonderful for he and Eliza to be classmates (he and Bassie were classmates in the spring, so it's really been the year of cousins!) Miss Carmen and the EC2 class - he/we will miss you!

Friday, December 16, 2011


It's true...

...The Beatles are timeless! Here, the 4, 5 and 7 year old set are obsessed. Every day, they request "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," "Hard Days Night," "Yellow Submarine," "Octopus' Garden" and "All My Lovin'."  They happily perform their song/dance numbers to these songs for company. We have been watching the old videos/movies on Youtube. And in their imaginative play, they are often the characters - Miles is Sgt Pepper, Zavion is Mr. Kite and Eliza is Mrs. Henderson. (Apparently, I get the coveted role of 'Henry the Horse Dancing the Waltz!')  They have recently been trying to escape the Blue Meanies.

They even know the Fab Four by name and which of them are alive and dead.

At least they are learning the important things in life... :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Letters to Santa...

The other day, I asked the kids to write letters to Santa. Or, in their case, to draw letters to Santa with pictures of what they might want for Christmas.

Zavion = To Santa, Stuffed snake, off-limits Legos, Gogos and monster truck

Eliza = To Santa, Rainbow princess dress with matching crown, stuffed kitty and doll
(Not pictured is Miles' artwork - snakes, Bionicles, large toy Hulks)

So, yea, Eliza is all rainbows and princesses and Miles and Zavion are all snakes, trucks and super heroes. This gender role stuff is for real. I never sat down with Zavion and said, 'you're a boy, you should like trucks, weapons and super-heroes.' It just happens. Seriously. I'm sure David and Katy didn't push princesses on Eliza, either. There's definitely something inate there. And then society (and consumerism) works its own formula to send girls one way and boys another. Oh well, at least Zavion admits to liking pink these days.

Good thing Santa, (aka Daddy Jack -my father) is making a special trip to Harare this year, so the kids can get what they've asked for. Check out this pile of Amazon crap stuff that has arrived at his house to be brought to Africa. (photo courtesy of Daddy Jack.)

It all started with a simple request; 'Dad, do you mind if we order a couple of things to your house and have you bring them to Africa?' I believe we call this the mushroom effect. Knowing Amazon, though, it's mostly carboard and air, and once it's been unpacked, it'll look a lot less daunting. I told Dad to think of it as a real life version of Tetris. THANKS AGAIN, DAD (AND ANNE!)

So, all of this ordering and gift requesting has got me thinking. Just last week, I was with the kids at the children's home and brought them small stockings and gifts. Just some school supplies (colored pencils, glue sticks, pencil sharpeners,) and a couple of small toys. Nothing fancy at all. And they were as excited and gracious as can be. It was all toothy grins and hugs and high fives. The excitement over the pencils and glue was genuine and overwhelming. they even took the time to write their names on everything. It was so refreshing how happy they were over such simple gifts. And, yet, here I am ordering my own son (and neice and nephew) the latest toys from America. Not sure how these guys would react if their stockings only contained school supplies... So, how to find that balance? Getting them some of what they want without giving into the gross commercialism of America? How to make sure they appreciate the little things in life, too? It's a tricky balance to try and achieve. I could write all day, but you get the idea of what's been on my mind...

I'll be taking Zavion and Eliza to meet the kids at the home during the holidays, which I'm hoping will be an interesting, educational endeavor. Zavion, who at 4 1/2 is taller than half of the 6-12 year olds that I've been working with. No doubt malnutrition and stunting are in effect... Can't wait for them to meet, though.

OK, before I go - here are a few pictures from Zavion and Eliza's art show last week. They have just completed an 8 week art class and were very proud of their work. The stuff was really good! They even got awards/certificates :)

Children's artwork

Zavion showing off some of his work (the giraffe in the lower left corner, the stripes next to him and the colorful fingerpainting on the top row.)
One of the group projects- I love the colors!

I can't believe it's almost Christmas - what with the warm weather and the tank tops and the playing in the pool today...

Hope you are all ready to enjoy the holidays :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thanksgiving - Zimbabwe style

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and found lots of things to be thankful for!  Here in Zim, we had a great weekend - the International school even had Thursday and Friday off in honor of the holiday. We hadn't been out of town for awhile, so we opted for a weekend trip to the Eastern Highlands.

But first, let's not forget that yummy meal!!  We decided to do the big Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday evening so we wouldn't have to lug everything along with us to cook in the mountains (though the leftovers came in very handy!) We celebrated with fellow Americans Sheryl and Vaughn and Vaughn's dad, Michael (Kenyan - enjoying his first Thanksgiving dinner) at their house.

David demonstrating his turkey carving technique (note the kids' facial expression)

That's better.  Yummy - what a great meal!!

The candle was passed to each person to say something they're thankful for. Zavion got to go first since he's the youngest. He did a great job and said this; 'I am thankful that I have lots of toys and can give my extra toys to kids that don't have enough.'  He was a bit confused as to the timing of the holiday, however, as Thanksgiving, according to him, 'is supposed to be cold and rainy/snowy, not sunny and hot!'  It does take some getting used to... but I think we can manage :):)

And then, we were off. We left Thursday morning for the mountains. Unfortunately, Eliza had been recently sick and her tummy wasn't feeling well on the drive. Katy sat with her for awhile and had me drive. Five minutes into my drive and I get pulled over by the police. Apparently, I was speeding (the verdict is still out on that one) and had to pay the (whopping) $15 fine. Oh well...

Here is where we stayed - the lovely Springhide House- a private, self-catering house near Troutbeck in the Nyanga National Park. Lovely.
The House

The view!

Our bedroom
Playing in the huge garden

There were plenty of beds for everyone, but the big boys wanted to sleep in the tent in the house. Here, they are all enjoying some tent time!

The weekend was wet, cool and cozy. And we were without electricity for most of the weekend. I never would have thought, after just days earlier sweating in the heatwave that had settled itself over Harare for the past month, that we would be happily cosied up next to a fire. And I loved it. I'm finding that years in Seattle has turned me in to a kind of cool weather gal. And I love being in the mountains. You see, to me, the mountains are my church - they feed my soul and it makes me happy to be among them. And though I love Harare - the climate, the friends, the work - I've been aching to be in some more varied topography. So an escape to the mountains for the weekend was perfect!
And the fact that it was cool, misty and rainy may have turned others away, but it was perfect for me. Yea, so we didn't get some of those splendid views that you get on more sunny days, but the mountains, to me, have so much more character when they're shrouded in clouds dancing through - in and out- affording occasional glimpses of the hills beyond.

We were even treated to a magnificent thunder and lightning storm on our night of arrival and, as usual, Mother Nature, in all her glory and power, never ceases to amaze me. This storm was incredible - some of the loudest, longest thunder I can remember and lightning that was so close you could feel it. I wondered at one point, immediately following a simultaneous lightning and thunder strike that reverberated in my ribs, of the flammability of a thatch roof. In my semi-conscious state, and deciding that thatch was decidedly flammable, I started devising our escape plan... :)

During one of the dry moments, I took a solo hike up the hill next to the house. Beautiful views looking down-

Evening view - just before the big storm blew in.

On Friday, there was a dry-ish spell. David went golfing, Vaughn & Miles stayed around the house with Sheryl & Michael and Katy & I took Zavion & Eliza to Troutbeck for some horseback riding!

Waiting for the horses - Z and E chasing butterflies
Having fun around Troutbeck Lake

Modeling their fashionable helmets 

Zavion atop his trusty steed

We had assumed that the kiddos would either be on horses with us or with a guide. BUT, they got to ride their own horses - led by the guide on his horse. The kids didn't miss a beat and were so brave!!  They chatted happily the whole time - making up stories about their horses (Mist and Surprise who are, according to E and Z, in love with eachother.)  At one point, they tried to demonstrate their bravery by not holding on and putting their arms in the air - a practice we nervous mommies quickly discouraged!! They had a great time, though :):)

See that tiny, red dot down on the green? That's David. The kids were so excited that he got to see them on the horses!

Saturday consisted of a nice hike and scavenger hunt from the house. We found all sorts of creatures - frogs, dung beetles, caterpillars, chungalolos, etc.  The kids also found everything on the scavenger hunt list except a black mamba and a human skull (David's contributions to the list...)

Setting off on the scavenger hunt/hike

Looking for the elusive human skull...

 View shots

 Checking out the local wildlife

The rest of the afternoon consisted of playing with the baby chicks and exploring the foggy abyss...

On the way home, we stopped for a break at Nyongombe Falls (under a blue sky!) and enjoyed lovely views of some of the rock outcroppings that Zim is famous for.


See David?

Another great weekend in Zim:)