Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shopping Surprises

When just about everything familiar in life disappears, finding something you enjoy from home is notably more exciting.  That has been the case with a few things this week.  I’ll tell you about them.  Hold on to your seat, this is going to be a thrilling post…..

After searching in every grocery store I’ve been in since we left Kenya, I finally found canned mandarin oranges today in South Africa.  I have looked in other groceries in SA, and in every grocery I’ve come across in Lesotho and have come out without oranges every time.  Looking through my cookbooks, I have been so saddened by the number that call for these delicious little morsels wrapped in a can.  Since I had purchased a small can in Kenya, I was so irritated by the fact that SA and Lesotho hadn’t had any.  I knew it wasn’t that Africa didn’t have them.  It was just that none of the stores around here carried them.  I love them on salads and in various desserts as well as in my all-time-favorite pasta salad.  The last time I made that pasta salad, I had to substitute strawberries for oranges, which was tasty but just not the same.  There are plenty of canned fruits here like peaches, pears, apples, fruit cocktail, and even canned strawberries.  I don’t remember ever seeing canned strawberries in the US.  I guess an African who moves to the US and loves canned strawberries must be as disappointed as I was to be an American who moved to Africa and loves canned mandarin oranges.  Today, however, I was an ecstatic American in the canned fruit aisle.  And a slight bit greedy, too, as I purchased 10 cans of the things.  I didn’t take all of them, so don’t judge me.  I did exercise restraint.  But, I scooped them up while I could.  They weren’t even on the canned fruit self; instead they were on a special stand in the aisle.  It took a keen eye to spot them.  Obviously, I have that eye.  Score.

I also found pure maple syrup while in SA.  It isn’t sold at regular grocery stores but I found it in Woolworths.  It wasn’t as expensive as I was expecting.  In fact, it wasn’t much more than in the States – about $6.50 for a standard size bottle like we’d buy back home.  I actually like the fake stuff on some things but for other more special occasions, I really fancy pure maple syrup.  So, I purchased a bottle for those occasions.

Last week we found Heinz ketchup here in Maseru.  I’m not a ketchup connoisseur like my grandmother but I do like good ketchup occasionally.  The other stuff here is alright, but it is much thicker and has more vinegar or sugar or something which makes it taste too strong.  Heinz is a special treat and I like seeing it in my fridge. 

While in the grocery today almost overwhelmed with joy on account of my orange find, I also found condensed cream of chicken and mushroom soups.  I have seen cream of chicken soup already (even though it doesn’t taste the same at all) but until now, it hasn’t been the condensed kind.  Since so many recipes call for condensed soup, it is hard to substitute a non-concentrate and not turn up with an entirely too soupy mess.  It has happened a few times already.  So, stumbling across condensed soup made me an even happier woman. 

Are you seeing a theme?  The things we miss most are food items.  I can buy cheap shampoo and boring Colgate toothpaste (although I really miss my Arm & Hammer) but something about a familiar taste is so comforting.  I feel like my cooking options have expanded tremendously with just a few simple finds.  It feels nice.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Few Days in Bloem

For weeks we have been planning to return to Bloem for a few days in April to familiarize ourselves with things before returning for the birth.  Since our car situation was pretty hairy for a little while there, we weren’t actually sure if we were going to be able to make the trip.  I am so glad we got the car settled and we are here.  The thought of  coming and giving birth in a place we’d never been to on our own was making me a little nervous.  Now that we’ve been here a couple days, we know exactly how to get to the hospital, and that is a good thing.

We drove in on Sunday from Maseru which doesn’t take very long…… about two hours including a border crossing stop.  Almost everything closes ridiculously early on Sundays here.  I had kind of forgotten about that.  So, we hung out, got a pizza and bounced on the trampoline. 

We are staying in the guest house where we’ll be for the time surrounding Ellee’s birth.  It is a beautiful place with a lovely yard.  There is a grill area outside, which we are allowed to use if we like, as well as a pool.  Even though it is supposed to be Fall, it is still stinkin’ hot here during the day.  It cools down significantly at night so I don’t know what the water temperature would be like if we tried it.  I didn’t think about the pool when packing so we are here sans swimsuits.  There is also a small in-ground trampoline which Kyle thoroughly enjoys bouncing on.  It is a great way for him to release some energy!  I foresee Aunt Lacy sitting by that trampoline watching Kyle a lot during our time here next month.  And there is a cat which isn’t terribly fond of Kyle, but he likes to chase her around anyways. 

Our room is simple yet adequate with a big bed for Jonathan and me and a single for Kyle.  We will set up the pack & play for Ellee when she comes.  We have a mini fridge and a microwave and a few plates, cups and pieces of silverware.  I admit it is going to be tough feeding our family with not much work space at all but we will survive.  We don’t have an eating table so we eat on the beds.  But when we are here for the month, I think we’ll rearrange a little and use the desk table as a dining table which will make it much more conducive to family style dinners.  The owner of the guest house has offered to let me use her main kitchen to prepare a few meals a week in so that we can eat left overs the rest of the week.  It would get very expensive and very fattening to eat out almost every meal.  So, with a little fore planning on my part as far as a menu goes, I think that situation will work out nicely.  We have a shower and a tub (which has handles- I am so thankful. It is so difficult to get up out of a tub with this ball in my belly). 

We came armed with a list of things to look for here in SA which we haven’t found in Lesotho.  I wanted to buy a few clothing and necessary baby items for Ellee.  Kyle needed a few duds to complete his fall/winter attire as well.  We are finding it very difficult (and expensive) to find a crib here.  Only one store in all of Bloem has any at all, as far as we can tell.  They aren’t nearly the quality we’d get back home and they are easily twice the price.  But, I can’t bear the thought of my sweet baby girl sleeping in a pack & play for two years.  I like the pack & play for its function, but its esthetics leave something to be desired.  Somehow jungle animal printed nylon just doesn’t seem to go with the beautiful cottage colored hand quilted blanket my mom is bringing for her.  I have crib envy of my SIL, Hannah, who inherited the crib we were borrowing for Kyle.  You lucky duck!  Anyways, we’re going to bite the bullet and buy her a crib.  The one we’ve settled on will convert into a toddler bed so at least it should last for quite a few years to come. 

I have also found it very difficult to locate itty-bitty baby clothes here.  There are plenty of clothes for 3-6 months and up, but newborn and 0-3 month items are scarce.  And of the newborn stuff I’ve found, most of it is either Hello Kitty or entirely too big to be classified as newborn.  I can’t help but wonder what the average weight of a newborn baby girl is here.  I hold an outfit up to my belly and shake my head.  She isn’t going to fit into those things until she’s 5 months old.  Kyle was an average sized baby boy and he still wore itty bitty clothes for a good month and a half.  I have tons of baby clothes which a friend gave to me and my mom will be bringing them with her.  We are set from about 3 months up, but Little Miss was still in need of a few tiny things.  I’ve found a satisfactory number of clothes and am sending a short list for Lollee and Lacy to hunt for before coming.

Fearless driver of Rocky

Before Kyle was born, I found a cute dress to wear home from the hospital and decided I’d do the same thing for bringing Ellee home.  I have purchased exactly two maternity tops during this pregnancy and that is all.  It feels nice to think of something new to wear.  I know what Mom is making Ellee to wear home from the hospital and I wanted something which complimented that.  Plus, dear friends are planning to come over from another part of SA to visit after Ellee arrives.  Dear Friend is a photographer and has offered to take a new family photo of all four of us.  Today I found a beautiful dress and jewelry to wear and I am stoked.  It is kind of hard to try on clothes at 32.5 weeks pregnant and know exactly how they will look once my body returns to a normal shape.  But, I think dresses are highly forgiving on shapely imperfections.  So, I’m excited!

I saw my doctor on Monday and everything is still looking good.  He wanted me to come back in two and a half weeks so we’ll be making one more trip between now and returning for the birth about two weeks before Ellee is due.  I admit to being a little nervous that she will decide to come more than two weeks before her due date and I’ll be left trying to decide what to do about giving birth in Maseru.  But, we are just trusting God with the timing of that.  I was thankful Jonathan finally got to meet the doctor this time so that he isn’t shaking the guy's hand for the first time while I am in labor. 

We will return to Maseru tomorrow after going to purchase Ellee’s crib and stopping by a big grocery store to find a few things we can’t get in Lesotho.  In all, it has been a successful venture and I feel like we now have a good handle on where things are here.  We have enjoyed eating at a few restaurants and there is even a Cinnabon in the mall here!  No, we didn’t already buy one.  No, I’m nothing thinking about buying another after dinner tonight.

Friday, April 5, 2013

31 Weeks

So a few weeks have passed since my last pregnancy post and not much has changed on the pregnancy front.  Except my front…. That has changed.  Little Lady is growing and moving a lot.  I’m getting giddy about meeting her!  With so much else going on, these weeks seem to be going pretty quickly and I know June will be here in a flash.  I go to the doctor again in a little over a week and then I’ll make my “last” appointment for 5 weeks out!  Can’t believe it!

The obligatory belly photo at 31 weeks

Absolutely the most adorable photo shoot assistant in the entire world.  He is a huge Simba and Pumbaa fan these days.

I’m getting nervous about going through labor again…. That certainly wasn’t my favorite part about Kyle’s arrival.  But, I’m stoked because my sister has booked tickets and should be here on May 28th!  That gets her here 10 days before Ellee is due and we are praying the little one stays put until then.  Lacy will care for Kyle while I am delivering and if Ellee comes before that…. Well let’s just say that wouldn’t be an easily navigated situation.  So, hopefully Aunt Lacy arrives in plenty of time and Kyle can hang out with her.  She will be here for nearly two whole months and I can’t describe how excited that makes me!  My mom will come in early July and stay until mid July when she and Lacy will leave together.  Looking forward to visitors and a new baby makes a mama feel kinda anxious! 

To keep my anxious self occupied (as if I don’t have enough other things to do), I’ve been busy this week stitching some sweet onesies for my girl.  I have a few more to do but I figured I’d share these for now.  Remember she is going to be a winter baby here in the Southern hemisphere...

She is going to be unbearably snuggly, I just know it.

Got Milk?

I love the french knot flowers along the neck of this one.....

..... so much that I decided to do them on the pants, too.

Then I did this little one to coordinate with these tiny shoes I bought at the consignment sale back before we knew Kyle was a Kyle.  It doesn't look like it in the picture, but the little knots on the collar are lavender, not dark purple.  

I'm not sure what I'm going to dream up next but I had fun doing these.  Can't wait for her to get here so she can wear them!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Birthday Boy!

That's what Kyle tells us when he does something he thinks is proper behavior for a big boy.  Did my precious son turn two last month with so little recognition by my posts in cyber-space?  Yes, he did, and we celebrated although with difficulty being so far from those we love.  He is growing and changing every day and sometimes Jonathan and I have a hard time keeping up with his newest thing.

Before we left the US, probably my biggest concern when facing the months of transition was not knowing how Kyle would take it all.  Last fall he was really giving us a run for our money when we tried to put him to sleep in his pack & play and he hasn’t ever been real keen on sleeping in unfamiliar places.  And up until the days before we flew out, he was waking up nearly every night screaming, sometimes for hours.  I think he was really sensing all the change going on and it was affecting his sleep terribly.  Combined with leaving our family, shifting 8 time zones, changing our eating habits, having to go off with child care workers while Jonathan and I attended training sessions, I figured trying to get this boy to bed down in a new place every few weeks…. Or days…. Was going to be a huge nightmare.  Boy was I wrong.  Since we left the US, I can count on one hand the times he has woken up in the night crying, and certainly nothing like the terror he was experiencing back in November/December.  He has gone to sleep without so much as a protest just about every night we have been in Africa. 

It makes my eyes sweat when I think of how strong he has been these three months and all the changes he has taken in stride at such a young age.  I am especially amazed at how he has adapted to each new “home” we have been in.  As we would walk to our room at Mayfield Guest House or while at ABO, he would point to our door and say, “room.”  In our home stay, when he would get sick of the kids we were living with, he would get up and start walking away.  When I asked him where he was going, he simply replied, “room.”  He knew where his room was and that was safe enough for him.  While we stayed in Maphutseng, he would point to the guest house we were living in and say, “Ty-doe house.”  That means Kyle’s house.  Then at the AIM retreat, he knew which little hut was ours and would start walking “home” saying, “Ty-doe room.”  When we got here to Maseru, I can’t explain how good it felt to tell that sweet boy that this would be “Ty-doe’s” house for quite some time.  Now when we go out into town and start getting near home again, he proudly announces that we are going to “Ty-doe’s house.”   I know he doesn’t understand that we will move again to Bloem for a month for Ellee’s birth and then again to our permanent home but at least for now, I am so thankful that my sweet little guy can sleep in the same room every night for a couple months.

Speaking of sleeping, he made the switch to a big boy bed this weekend.  When he wakes up and we say, “Kyle! Did you sleep in the big boy bed?”, he holds up his two middle fingers and assures us he is “two.”  As a reward, I have a little jar of sugar coated dried fruit in his closet and he is allowed one little piece after he sleeps in his big bed.  He reminds us of his deal before he goes to sleep…. Every time.  We put some pillows along the edge of the single bed under the fitted sheet to keep him hemmed in.  So far he hasn’t rolled out and he has done really well for every nap and bed time.  Needless to say, I am proud of him.  And I am relieved that it was so easy because I will need the pack & play for Ellee in about 9 weeks.

For his birthday, a couple friends gave him his first jigsaw puzzle.  He has enjoyed making it just about every day.  We found a couple more at a store here in Lesotho and bought him those to add a little variation.  He requires some help but some of the obvious matches (like Mater’s eyes and Buzz’s wings) he can put together on his own.  When he completes a puzzle, he claps for himself and says, “yay, Ty-doe!”  And then he fixes his two middle fingers and tells us just how old he is.  Two.  Big boy.

He eats everything I put in front of him and when I asked him what he wanted for lunch today, he told me “green beans.”  Unfortunately, I was out of green beans but I gave him some chicken salad instead.  Close enough, right?  He is a boccy (broccoli) conesuere and he would eat grapes at every meal if I’d let him.  He loves oatmeal and granola and we both enjoy a delightful breakfast in the morning loaded with peaches, strawberries and bananas.  Daddy eats bacon, eggs and cinnamon toast.  He isn’t much into the fruit stuff.  I’m glad Kyle’s on my side.  Ellee will be, too.

Amidst all the changes and all the unknowns, Jonathan and I have done our best to keep Kyle’s little life as routine as possible.  He loves bath time and has figured out how to remove all his clothes except his shirt sometimes gives him a hassle.  He and Jonathan read a Bible story every night, and each night Kyle relays what the story was from last night.  He is learning to say prayers and blessings and he gets irritated with us if we try to pray quickly before a meal and don’t let him do it.  When that happens, he just starts praying along with us and we are forced to either ignore it or stop and let him finish.  What do you think we do?  Precious boy.  We don’t take nap time lightly and he really seems to enjoy his afternoon snooze.  Jonathan is great about playing with him outside or racing Matchbox cars along the coffee table and it warms my heart to watch them play together. With no Uncle Caleb and Aunt Maggie, Kyle was left with Jono and me as playmates.  Poor guy, we aren’t nearly as cute or as much fun.  He likes to play hide and seek and he’s pretty convinced we can’t see him as long as he can’t see us.  He’ll stand in the middle of the room covering him eyes and call out “Ty-doe?”  to which we are supposed to reply, “have you seen Kyle?”  As soon as he uncovers his eyes, we are allowed to notice he is there. 

He is a big helper and he really likes taking things to the trash.  That is a good and a bad thing.  I found something important in the trash the other day and I know exactly who put it there.  When I hand him something to take to the trash, he smiles and toddles into the kitchen.  After I hear him open and close the lid, he often claps for himself and says, “good boy.”  Then he walks back to me with a giant grin on his face.  I can’t help but chuckle at him.  He is learning to pick up his toys before starting to play with other ones and when he is pleased with himself, he says “good boy.”  He is a good boy and we love him.

I am without words when I try to express what joy this little boy brings to our lives.  It is sure hard to have him all the way over here and be watching him grow and change and not be able to share it all with his grandparents and aunts and uncles.  But, having him here with us each day is such a sweet comfort and has made it bearable to have left so many loved ones.  Motherhood has changed me forever and I thank God for allowing me the privilege of raising such a sweet spirited son.  He is an answer to our prayers and a dream come true and I cherish each day we spend together.  I am constantly amazed that I grow to love him more every day.  

Easter family photo.  Keep in mind it was about 7 AM..... sunrise service which Jonathan led.  Kyle's new cheesy smile!