Thursday, November 30, 2006

Christmas Cheer

Hi Bloggers,

I wanted to take a second to let you know about a young woman who is a close friend of our family (actually, she is my sister's dear friend since elementary school...). She and her husband have a beautiful daughter who is about 2. Becky has been sick for awhile and has recently found out that she suffers from a very rare form of cancer. They don't even treat it in Utah (where she lives). She must travel to Maryland every other week to get treatment under a special study and they need help with child care for her sweet girl and the cost of staying out in Maryland for the week of treatment.

Here is an article that tells a little bit more of her story. She also has a website
that updates everyone about her progress. It is a pretty amazing story. There
will be a fundraiser "market" on Saturday in the Heber Valley. It is the same
day as Swiss Christmas and the creche exhibit. You could come up and go
sledding, see the exhibit and shop and make a fun day of it. Becky is a very
talented photographer and some of her artwork and photographs will be auctioned
off as well. I also know Becky because she is a fellow adoptive mom and we have
had several discussions about the challenges and joys that come with that. You
would be helping a really great family that is struggling right now. I know that
many of my readers are in Utah. Feel free to post this message on your blogs.
Lets get the word out.

I know that this time of year is when many churches and organzations "adopt" someone. We often think of helping those that are in need of everything (the ones that have no home, no food, nothing....) and while I am not saying that those people don't need help, there are many people who fall in the "in between" category. This family is one of them. This little family is one of those that is not "poor" in the traditional sense, but they don't have great insurance and they don't make enough to cover the medical bills, but they make too much qualify for much help from the state. The cost of this medical treatment is stacking up and they are not only fighting for her life, but the are struggling to keep on top of the bills. Could your community or church group "adopt" them to make a meal? Do a fundraiser? Just write a nice note? Babysit while she is in Maryland getting chemo? They are dear people and have a pretty good outlook despite all that is happening. Even kind words would be appreciated. If you would like to leave her a kind note on her website , that would be great. Or if you want to just send her a card, let me know and I will send you her address

Happy Christmas to you all!!!

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Ha Ha. You guys are very funny and very clever!!! I was actually trying to do some HTML on this post and I couldn't get it to work (the links wouldn't work...) and then my computer froze and then blogger quit on me. Nice, huh? This is the post I was writing. I am sorry that I couldn't link the names to the website. I did try. Maybe I will go back later tonight and try again. I just want to get this posted.

BUT Lisa....thanks for pointing out yet ANOTHER thing I started and didn't finish.... except I AM finishing it...see? :-)

I love to read. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I will read anything, even if it is boring or poorly written because that is how much I love to read. Thursday is a big day in my house because that is when the Cooking Light and the People magazine come. Best Day Ever. I also like Better Homes and Garden's day and Bon Appetite Day, but not as much as People day.

Because Thursday only comes once a week (only one more day until People.....) I have to confess that on the other days I console myself with catalogues. I love them. Really. I love to look in them and see what awesome (or awful) things people will buy and sell. We have the old standby's; Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Williams Sonoma and Home Decorator. Those are good for a quick browse. I am on some list now because I get all kinds of catalogues. Catalogue spam is WAY better than e mail spam. For one thing, no one tries to sell you a mortgage or suggest a wonderful new porn site for you in catalogue spam. Sure you might get the odd Yankee Home or Guido's Guide to New Jersey Decor in the mail slot, but I can live with that. My catalogue spam introduced me to some of my favorite new stuff. Have you seen Mini Boden (fun, pretty inexpensive kids clothes that are hip but not slutty... you should check them out...)? Oriental Trading Company? Garnet Hill? J Jill? Of course you have........because you people are not socially backwards......... but I didn't know about them until catalogue spam. Other favorites are Baby Style, Sur La Table, Back to Basic's Toys, and Horchow.

My very favorite one is the mother of all catalogues. The queen of pretty house things. The name we speak of only in hushed tones..... Ballard Design. This is the business that can make your house look cool and sophisticated and whimsical even if you have no sense of design. This is what my house would look like if I had one trillion dollars. I don't, so I do a poor imitation of it. We are getting our kitchen redone (as in rip it out, put it back in and hopefully sell the condo for one million dollars profit) and I pretty much just threw the latest Ballard Design issue at the designer and told her that if she could make my kitchen FEEL like the rooms in there, I would be happy. See how easy I am to work for? I don't care what you long as the over all effect is ok. Go crazy. I was that way with my house cleaner too. I don't care what you clean or how you do it as long as when I walk in the house (and give you my money) my house FEELS clean. Yet another fascinating (and terrifying) glimpse into my psyche. We have now established that I don't finish things AND I am not fastidious. I just get better and better.

But, back to the subject. While waiting for the bus for Lulu I got to read the Lands End, the new Potter Barn Bath AND the BabyStyle "books". I love it when I get things accomplished during the day. Very satisfactory. Not quite the 5 hour crossiants that Carina spent making, but still something was started and finished.

What are you favorite ones? What am I missing? Please, I am itching to go sign up for more catalogues. Now GO and Google the ones I told you about and pray that I can get the links to work next time...............

Have you wondered where I was?

Can you tell that these are turkeys? Look closely...

Here is something that you need to know about me. I am really good at starting things. Sometimes I just don't like finishing them. It's not that I CAN'T finish things. It's that I don't want to. This is for no apparent reason. Really. It isn't because things are hard or tricky. I just don't want to. There are PLENTY of things that I couldn't wait to finish; pregnancy, some family dinners, bad movies, bowls of ice cream, a good book. I think that a lot could be said about my personality by the fact that I don't like to do the last step. It is a wonder that I still have friends. This might be the reason I have Christmas Cards that are addressed and ready to go, but no stamps STILL on my desk from last year. This is the reason that I wash, sort and fold laundry and have it sitting in a basket, and then take three days to put it away. I have no problem loading the dishwasher and washing dishes by hand, but I don't unload the dish drainer or dishwasher. Can you see where I was going with this?

I just didn't feel like blogging for a few days. Strange, I know. I even had stuff to blog about (a long absent brother of my husbands showed up at Thanksgiving dinner, a basketball game in a box suite with ALL THREE KIDS....). I just had to sabotage it at the last minute. Welcome to the wonderful world of me. :-) I am not that worried about it. I really wanted to blog every day because it sounded fun. When it started being a pain, I stopped.

This is our traditional "brunch" food, a giant caramel apple. We usually get the one from Williams Sonoma.
It is HUGE and it can feed 10 people, easily. This year I got a smaller one from Albertsons.
It wasn't the same. Next year we will go back to
the real thing . These are great
presents to your boss, your husband's secretary, and friends far away,
blogging buddies, siblings that love apples. :-)

Ahem....... but I do hope that everyone had a great Turkey Day. I hope that everyone got to eat their favorite dish. I hope that there was enough pecan and pumpkin pie for everyone. I am not a fan of turkey, but LOVE my potatoes and gravy and bread. We went to my husband's family for dinner where the food was divine (I ate just enough to be satisfied, but not enough to want to vomit....but not because I had self control, I was chasing Cubby and being spit up on by Norah the whole time. Lets just say I am lucky I got enough to be satisfied.........). We had family from out of state in town which was nice. It was also really great to see my husbands youngest brother. About a year ago he decided that he "needed a break" from the family and just disappeared. We knew enough about him that he was alive and safe. His friends checked in with his parents every so often. We have added children to the family and had other significant events happen. Some of the siblings are hurt (and rightfully so) and it has been strange to figure out how to handle this. He just showed up at the tail end of dinner (pretty brave if you ask me..) and everyone got a chance to talk to him and then off he went again. We might see him at Christmas, we might not. I guess he will figure out what he needs to and come home someday. Either way, it was nice to see him even if it was just for a little while. That was something to be thankful for.

Look mom! I made orange rolls!

Breakfast Casserole. Recipe can be found here

We had the fabulous brunch in the morning while watching the parade. Cubby was SO cute. He waved at every balloon that came by (and to be fair, they were waving at him first..) and danced and danced and danced to the music. It was awesome. We made turkeys made out of apples and gumdrops for our craft and for the place card holders for the big dinner. Derek stepped on a toothpick (thanks for finding it, honey) but even that couldn't put a damper on the morning. We had enough food for 43 people and the children, of course, ate almost none of it. After breakfast we went to the park by our house and walked around the lake a played in the forest of trees that have really bent branches and trunks that are SUPER fun to play on.

It was a really fun and relaxing day, but I missed having leftovers. So, I am off to put a turkey in the oven and to peel some potatoes..... it is Thanksgiving at our house. Again.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Turkey Day!!!

Who is hosting? Who is a guest?

We are hosting and guesting so it should be fun. I am in charge of appetizer at the big dinner with the in-laws. I am making my famous cheeseball, lemon herbed goat cheese spread and caramelized onion and blue cheese tart. I had to show some restraint. I love doing appetizers because that is the best part for me. I am not a fan of actual Thanksgiving food (besides the bread and the gravy). It is all about the appetizers for me.

For brunch on Thanksgiving Day we are having: breakfast casserole (the kind that has bread at the bottom, a layer of sausage, a layer of hashbrowns, a layer of cheese and topped w/ sour cream and milk....heaven), ham with cranberry glaze, Brie, orange rolls, dutch crunch rolls (so you can make a ham sandwich if you want), mango chutney and hot chocolate. Then we are going to take a walk around the lake and try, try, try to get family pictures taken. Try is the key word here...........

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Great idea.........

I met a blogger in real life today. Suzi Petunia and her sweet family were in town and we met up at the park. My kid threw sand at her kid, her kids didn't retaliate. My kid begged food from every child there, her kids didn't. Can you see where this is going? Suzie even held Nori and got puked on about 100 times. They even bought me a burger from In-N-Out. How great is that? Pictures and a full report later tonight when I have some peace...........

Helpful and handy tip of the day: This is from my friend Jen M.......... I have only been doing this for a week but I am already a huge fan. The Gladware is GONE!!!!!!!!!! Thanks Jen!

Instead of buying Tupperware or Gladlock to store leftovers in, go to a restaurant supply store (in my area I got to Smart and Final...but each area has it's own brand.......) and buy deli containers instead. You can get them in 8 oz, 1 pint and 1 quart sizes and the lids are the same for all three sizes!! They come in packages of 25 for the containers (between 3 and 5$ a package) and packages of 50 for the lids (4$). They work in the microwave and dishwasher too. They are clear so you can see what you have. It is so easy to keep a few of each size and the lids in your drawer and when one lid goes missing or a container has "had it" you just throw it out and replace it with another. SO SMART.

These also are great for packaging new mommy dinners, holiday goodies and cookies or party favors. In the past I have gone to the same store and purchased Chinese food containers for goodies or favor boxes........but these are even cheaper. Design Mom did a post about giving cookies to people stacked in cute wide mouthed canning jars. Cute idea, but if you are too cheap to get the jars (or just didn't plan ahead) you can throw them in these and have a hostess gift.

Another product that I love from that store are the tiny 2 oz containers with lids (the kind you put salsa in at Baja Fresh...or dressing. You have seen them). For about 5$ you can get 100 cups and lids. I send these in lunches. Peanut butter for crackers or celery. Ranch for carrots.... etc. A million, billion uses and they can be thrown away.

So, there you have the tip of the day.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Due to the fact that I have done nothing but play with iTunes and be lazy this weekend (not to mention a sudden and visceral hatred of this whole "blog a day" thing) I am keeping the song thing up............

MORE SONGS!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I have having SO MUCH fun checking out the songs you are all suggesting. I am going to keep this up for another day.......... keep the suggestions coming. I am getting more cool and more hip by the second.............

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Best Concert EVER!!!!

Last night Derek and I went to the Dixie Chicks concert with our friends Gordon and Suzi. OH MY GOSH!!! I have always been a fan, but not a rabid, nutso, crazy fan. That might change. They sounded SO good. You really realize what true musicians they are. Each one plays 5 or 6 instruments and the vocals were tight. The harmonies by Martie and Emily were flawless and much louder and stronger than you hear on the album. Natalie Maines's voice is astonishing. She can belt FOREVER and it always sounded good. Each of the songs were much more high energy than on the album. Even their song called "Lullaby" which is very soft and sweet on the CD was loud and energetic, but it still worked. They have really crossed over into rock/pop but still have enough bluegrass to keep their original style. Watching them play those instruments was unbelievable. I didn't know fingers could move that fast. They had a cello, a few banjo's, guitars and fiddles, along with a mandolin and a wicked drummer. The most talented part of the whole show? Each of them played the entire night in heels. Really, really high heels. Carina would have been proud.

Our babysitters (a super cute couple from our ward that don't have kids yet and therefore think it is fun to babysit!!) were huge fans. Apparently, one of the sisters of Emily and Martie works at Stanford with him. The Chicks did mention at the concert last night that the first several rows were all family of the sisters. Cute.

It was a pretty funny night and it reminded me that I am not 104 years old. Besides going with Lisa to see James, the last three concerts I went to were all by The Wiggles. Seriously. Thanks to the Jackson's for coming along and huge thanks to my husband for snagging the tickets. My father in law has seasonal tickets for everything that comes to that venue. Good one, Honey.

Do me a favor? What is the best thing that you are listening to? I just got an iPod and I am a musical idiot. I like show tunes and the stuff that Chris and Lisa Clark listened to when we were all in college (they always know the cool stuff......). I don't even really listen to the radio much anymore. I don't know what is hip or hot. My sister Kate always gives me good music advice, but I have room for about 1000 more songs on the iPod. Tell me who to listen to and give me a "best" song if you can. After the concert last night, my friend Suzi was commenting how much she loved music and how it makes her feel glory in her soul. I also feel that way. There is no better feeling than GOOD music. I need more. I also want to tell you that I like it all. I have Eminem, Beyonce, Blues, Gospel, Rap, Pop, Country and yes, show tunes. I will listen to anything.

Besides the Dixie Chicks (listen to "Lullaby" and "I Hope") here are my suggestions for you.

Check out Ron Sexsmith and listen to "Former Glory" on the Cobblestone Runway album. My friend Philip from Austria sent this one to us awhile ago (he is another one that always knows the cool music) and we listened to it a lot when we went to go get Nori. I think about her mom when I hear this. It talks about how sometimes we have things that are hard, but not to worry because someday our "lights will return in their former glory". I love that it doesn't say "everything will be the same", just that it can be good again. It is kind of blues and folk sounding. You won't be sorry.

If you like wonderful harmonies and great music, try Selah. I first found these guys because I was looking for African Gospel music. The band members are children of missionaries in Africa and they all grew up there. They speak a few of the dialects. Their music is so beautiful, but the African songs are still distinctly African. As I dug into it a little bit more I saw that they have several albums. I am not really a fan of God Rock, and these guys for sure qualify as that, but they are really good. In fact, I wouldn't say they are rock, more like pop. They are like a Christian Sheryl Crow/Indigo Girls / Linda Rondstat sound. They have a Christmas album that will make you weep. Their version of the old spiritual called "By and By" is the best I have ever heard. Other songs to check out? Bika Mono Ve; Hatikva (on the Amen, Selah Album), Yesu Azali Awa, Esengo and Landa Yesu. That is the stuff. Also check out Hatikva (on the Amen, Selah album), Be Still My Soul, How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace. The whole Christmas album is great.

This is an old one, but a classic. She sings a song on here called "Iowa" that is one of my all time favorites. Also, "The Pagens and the Christians" is fun. Don't miss "February".

Now it is your turn!! (if anyone says High School Musical I will jump off a bridge. That is pretty much all we listen to in the car anymore.............).

Friday, November 17, 2006

Want to win free stuff?

My friend over at Design Mom is having a give away every day from now until December 15th. All you have to do it leave a comment on her blog. Design Mom is a very talented graphic designer and mother of 5 kids. She finds the coolest stuff that she posts on her site. Everything from books to clothes to activities for children. I have found almost everything she posts relevant (or at least something I covet). She also has guest bloggers who give a different spin on things, including our very own Girl Con Queso. Go to the Blog Con Queso and spend an hour or two reading. She has a really fun blog AND it is pie month over there. How much more incentive do you need? Huh? My BFF Oh Judy was the first guest poster. She also has a really, really fun blog, but she doesn't post enough (hint, hint). That leads us to how I know Design Mom.

I have known G since our college days. I was roommates with Oh Judy, who married The Jolly Porter. The Jolly Porter, Design Mom's husband, and Handsome Young Pediatrician (not a blogger, but it should be...Wes, Emily, are you listening??????) were high school best friends and all went to the same college as I did. Handsome Young Pediatrician and his Talented and Lovely Wife (also a guest blogger at Design Mom--check out Emily's stuff) just moved from my town where they finished his residency in Peds. Whew. That was long.

In a nutshell, I have been fortunate to be surrounded with family members and friends who are incredibly talented. I can steal all their ideas and pass for a talented and creative woman too!!! I didn't know Design Mom very well, it was more like we had friends in common, but she is hard to forget. I remember when she and Oh Judy were having an art market as young college graduates. Design Mom and her husband (and at least one, maybe two?) kids were living in a basement apartment. I remember seeing a big cork board that she had on the wall that had some paint chips and fabric swatches on it. I don't know if she had them for herself or for a client, but I remember that they were these beautiful shades of blue (that really cool teal and ice blue that is so hip right now) and yellows. Not "Kountry Kute" blue and yellow (which was the style in our college town, along with tole painting and kitchens decorated with pigs). But the exact shades of blue and buttery yellow that I want to do in my kitchen right now. It was such a revelation to me, color and simplicity and style. She has ALWAYS been hip and talented with an eye for the beautiful. I bought one of her Christmas prints that year and took it back the tiny apartment that my husband and I lived in at Princeton. We were newlyweds and it was some of the very first "art" we owned. I even bought a rug to match it. It set off the cinderblock shelves nicely. :-)

I bought one of her Christmas prints that day and it still comes out every year. Do yourself a favor and go visit Design Mom.

P.S. I didn't feel like doing the little HTML thing that lets you link to a word, it takes too long and I am babysitting one million kids at my house right now. And the baby is crying. All the blogs I talked about (if they exist) are on my sidebar. Happy reading.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I am the happiest girl alive...

I just found out that they are building a HUGE H&M in the town right next to mine. I love this store. I first discovered it when I lived in England about 10 years ago. Then it came to New York. It has trickled over to San Francisco (but that is still farther than I will go for cute clothes....) and FINALLY, FINALLY it is coming to the peninsula. I love their kids clothes and their maternity stuff is to die for.

I am the happiest girl alive.

And the shallowest.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Welcome Home Dad!!

How much work do you think he got done last night?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


gave me the best birthday present today. It is 10:51 am and he is STILL ASLEEP!!!!!!!

He used to do this when he was a baby, he would just stay asleep through his "morning nap". Those days have been long gone for awhile. I want to check on him, but I would rather he stay asleep.

What will me this the best birthday EVER is if he wakes up with a diaper still on. I won't dream about a bed that isn't soaked, that is what I expect, but if he has managed to keep his diaper on his body, I will go buy a lottery ticket. Really.

This is Jacob's "lamby". This is the valance from his window in his bedroom. It has been adopted as his second blanket. The first one "night, night" stays in the bed. He found this on his own. He is nothing, if not creative.

Does this mean he is growing or ready to talk? Cross your fingers. His Christmas outfit is a 2T and he swims in it right now.....................

Monday, November 13, 2006

Family Picture..........

Crazy Family 2006

This isn't really a great picture of anyone, but since we forgot to take pictures on Norah's actual blessing day, this will have to do. We had to put her back in the dress before she got too big for it. I would just try and play off that this was the actual day, but we had already cut Mr. T's mohawk.

P.S. I just looked at this picture full sized (don't do it) and have to say that Derek I both look like we are really, really tired. Even Lu looks a little squinty. Did we all go on a bender the night before? I had no idea that our household living in a continual state of "not enough sleep" was so obvious. What can you do?

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Lauren "before"

My daughter officially grew up. She has always been my little Lulubug. A happy child that loves to skip and has a halo of white, chicken down hair. Her hair is just like mine, straight on the top layer and curly on the crown and nape of the neck. It is so fine it usually fluffs up around her face. It is WHO she is.

She has been begging me to cut her hair for about a year. She wanted it to her ears. I knew that when we cut it, the curl would be gone. I wasn't ready for that. Last night we finally took the plunge. Besides a trim when she was three, this is her first haircut.

I did not do well.

She sat in the chair and put on a brave face and told me "I know the curls are going to be gone, but its OK Mom. Really". When she started to tear up, she reassured me that her eyes were just watering, she wasn't really crying. I told them to cut it below her shoulders but apparently our stylist heard "cut it as close to the ears as you can with out actually going that short".

She looked SO CUTE, but so grown up. I don't like it. Not because she doesn't look good but because my little girl is gone. She doesn't even look like the same child to me. She looks older. Less delicate. She loves it. She fell asleep last night with the mirror on her bed. She decided that she wanted to look in the mirror until she fell asleep. "I just can't help it Mom. It looks SO CUTE".

I know this is just the first of many baby steps on her journey to being a grown up. But this is the first one that hurts. I was totally fine with her going to school, her first tooth loss, etc. I didn't even care that for the first 3 years of her life she liked her dad, then her grandpa, then her Elmo and THEN me. I am not ready for her not to need me or like me. This is just the beginning of the end.

But she does look cute..................

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Africa Revisited..........

Ah and here we are again. This blogging every day thing is really getting hard. Derek came home from New York today. This should be the last big, long travel by him for a while. Thank goodness. I am not cut out to do this on my own.

I am going to do one more Africa post and I PROMISE that I will post the charities. I need to do it justice, and in order to do that, I need to have more than 3 minutes in a row to write it........

During one of the days at the camp, we went to the local Maasai village. Everyone that has been to Kenya or Tanzania has done this, but it was still cool. The Maasai are very interesting. They are a tribe that is at odds with the modern world. The are the one tribe in Kenya that have resisted change. They still wear the traditional red cape, their children don't stay in school long and they are always running into trouble with the Kenyan Wildlife Protection Agency for killing lions. In order for a boy to become a man, he must kill a lion all by himself. They carve out a club, about as long as your arm with a bulb on the end to do this with. Killing lions is illegal so that is a problem. The Maasai claim that since they have been forbidden to kill the lions, the lions have gotten bold. They now put doors on their houses for the first time in their history. A few months before we visited, a lion had entered the village and gone into a house and killed a child. Only one house in this village had a door. The hut of the chief.

The Maasai still hold onto the old traditions of wife sharing, FGM and other things that a modern society doesn't approve of. One of their main food sources is cow's blood mixed with milk. They believe that all cows on the earth belong to them, the owners of the cows tend to disagree............. this is just one example of how their ways are at direct odds with the way the rest of the world works. Because they are so unchanged, they now have a booming business in the tourist trade. They used to not allow anyone to take their picture (they are the ones that thought it would steal their soul) but now they will allow you to come to their camp and ask anything you want, take all the pictures you want and generally have the run of the place (you can even stay overnight if you want) for the price of 10-20$ per person. Then they make you go to their little market and buy stuff from them. The fun is in the process and the bickering. Ironically, with all the money that they get, they still are very poor and have the lowest rate of school attendance and the highest child mortality rate and HIV contract rate. It is very difficult to go against tribal culture. There are lots of tribes in Kenya, but a few major ones. I have friends from some of the other tribes and while they retain much of their ancient custom, they have basically assimilated into modern life. The Maasai are unique that way.

If you look closely, the short guy, the second from the right,
is holding a lion club in his hand. He is wearing all maroon.
You can see the rounded part of the club on the left of his hand.
Now, go kill a lion.

When you first arrive at the village, the young warriors come out to meet you. They do a traditional dance and have a jumping contest. The young men wear wigs that have long braids down the back and always have lots of beads and jewelry on (the colorful beads that you see are traditional Maasai beadwork). They also have little tin disks attached to their jewelry that make a little tinkling sound when they move. This little girl was peeking from her dads legs, but you can see the beads and disks.

When they dance, the make a very low, guttural and clicking sound in rhythm together. The day we were there, the other white man in the village was filming the warriors. He kept stealing my good vantage points to take pictures from. After talking to him for a few minutes we found out that he was with Steve Irwin's company, filming something for one of his projects. He graciously allowed me to get the good vantage points for the rest of the dance. Nice guy. He also gave us tips on how to haggle and how to not feel too intimidated.

After the men finished the dance, they did the jumping contest. It was CRAZY how high they can jump. The Maasai are tall and angular anyway, but the jumping was pretty amazing. The little boys stood in a group behind the big boys and had a similar contest. These tiny boys could jump much higher than I can. It was sweet to see them copying the big boys.

Look ma, no pants!!

The kids also had seen enough Mozungu (white people) that they knew what to ask for. "Give me some candy!" "Give me some money" "A quid, a quid" (that is the slang term for a British pound coin). Little stinkers. They did the things that all kids do. They were playing and arguing with each other, teasing the dogs and crying a lot. Most of the big kids had a baby that they were wearing. They all had distended bellies (not enough food) and flies in their eyes and faces that they didn't bother to swat away. We asked them to sing a song for us and they sang "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes". It was funny to see them doing the actions with their naked little bums. It was like bizzaro Primary.

They offered to take pictures of us (for a very small fee.....).

After the boys did the dance, tried to get us to trade them our watches and played with our cameras; the women came out to sing. It was beautiful to see them, but also very sad. Life is hard for these women. They do all the work, and I do mean ALL the work. They herd the animals, they build the houses, they have babies every year. The death rate among women is very high. I can see why. You would think that the guys who are trying to club a lion to death at the age of 14 would have a higher death rate, but that isn't the way it is. All the women had children hanging on their skirts and most of them were pregnant. I was struck by how beautiful they were and how vibrant the colors that they wore looked against the greens and browns of the Savannah.

These girls were copying their moms.

The Maasai market is like the Walmart of The Mara. Every stall had the same types of things. Carved wooden figures, wooden masks, animals and salad tongs. There were salad tongs everywhere!! They kept assuring us that they made everything and that it was all authentic. Salad tongs? My friend Julie challenged them on it and said "salad? You guys eat salad? What kind of salad?" The answer was "milk and blood salad".

I loved the beaded things and got some fun stuff. A young-ish boy was assigned to each of us. There were about 100 stalls. When we saw something we liked, they carried it for us. They even picked things out for us that they thought we would like. By the time I was done, I had 4 or 5 guys trailing me. They learned my name pretty quickly and loved to use it. "Rebecca, Rebecca, PLEASE, look at my brothers stall". "Rebecca, you will LOVE this". "Rebecca, bring your children this machete, they will love it". I am sure they would.

My "carrier" boys. The one in the middle won the jumping contest.

We were worried about being fair and buying things at each stall. Apparently it didn't really matter, they split the money equally at the end of the barter. When I was done gathering all my stuff, they put it on the ground in the middle of the market.

All of the people who's stalls I had taken an item from gathered around me along with the 5 "carrier" boys I had picked up. Apparently it was time to haggle. This cannot be done quickly. Even if you are in a hurry and you just want to pay them for their stuff because it is getting late and your driver is freaking out because you need to get off the Savannah and back to the hotel before curfew. Doesn't' matter. Not even a little bit.

I bought this knife for my dad........

We started out by them asking me what I would pay for the stuff. I had been warned by Clive, the Croc Hunter's guy, to start low. I had a huge pile of stuff so I added a few dollars. I said "5 dollars". The outrage and disbelief was palpable (but all part of the act). I had humiliated them and might as well just spit on their mother's grave. Did I think that their women just had all the time in the world to make this stuff? They wanted 200$$. My turn to be outraged. Didn't they know I had kids to feed? I worked for free to educate the children of Africa about Slim Disease (HIV /AIDS). I was not one of the Mozungu they may have seen before that was made of money. I came back with 20$. "Noooooo, can't you see the orphans that we have to care for? Can't you see how poor we are?" was the cry. Throw in some weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. I pulled out my secret weapon. I flashed a picture of my kids. I also had an "orphan" that I was caring for. I took him into my home and am raising him as my own. How dare they throw THEIR orphans in my face. Those cold hearted salesmen didn't care (even though they loved that I was getting so into it). I took things off the pile, I got up and walked away. The more I overreacted, the more they loved it (I had watched some others do it before me and figured out the game). It was pretty fun, especially because I didn't really care if I got anything. The best part of the whole haggling thing was that we were doing it in both shillings and dollars. They would say something like "I will give you all this for 150$ or 5,000 shillings". This is where it was to my advantage that none of them stayed in school. 3,000 shillings was about 40$. Ha!!! I decided that I could live with that and tried to close the deal (plus Naftali was getting antsy). "Nooo, Rebecca. It is ok, I promise, it will be ok" "Just keep going". They were trying to reassure me that in the end I would get all the stuff I wanted.


I was getting a little bit frantic because we had to go and I just wanted to be finished, but that wasn't going to happen. They had to confer with each other and finally came back with another reason why they couldn't possibly accept anything less than 100$ or 1,000 shillings (about 15$). Deal!!!!!!!

I got so much stuff. I got a bunch of stuff for presentations I do here in the US, and all kinds of weapons for my dad. He collects knives and spears. I got pretty beads for my girl and myself and some fertility gods (which worked because Nori was in our arms about 3 weeks later!!). None of it was something I needed, but it is so fun to look back at the stuff and remember the process of getting it.

They are talking about what I got.......there was lots of counting and conferring........

It was the only part of the trip that wasn't really work. Part of our group had a meeting with some government officials for a few days and the rest of us went on the little safari break. I am SO glad that we did.

If I don't manage to get the charity post done tomorrow, I will tell you the story of the balloon ride and breakfast with killer bees. Yes. Killer Bees!

Friday, November 10, 2006

I'm working on it...

But until then, I am going to give you a few more Africa pictures. I know it is a total cop-out, but I wanted to still post every day. Besides, Miss Norah interrupted the Africa report. I have a few posts that I started when I got back.

We went on lots of airplanes during the trip. They were all small planes that seated between 6 and 20 people. I am a TERRIFIED flier and I was just fine. For some reason, being able to see the ground was a good thing (I think the Xanax helped too). This was taken out the window on the way to the Maasai Mara. The Mara is a protected area in the south part of Kenya, right on the boarder with Tanzania. The Serengeti technically ends at the river that creates the boarder between the two countries. We were staying about a mile from that river on the Kenya side. It is some of the best safari country in Africa.

I also took this from the plane. This is a little Maasi village. We saw about hundred of these types of villages from the air. The "fence" of this village is made of thorny bushes. This is to keep wild animals out and the cattle in. The center circle is where all the activities take place and where the animals are penned at night. The big circle on the right side is another animal pen. The little huts are where the people live. Typically a village of this type will have a husbands hut, a first wife's hut, a second wife's hut, an older son's hut, etc. It was pretty cool to see them all from the air and to see that they were basically the same.

This is the landing strip and "ramp" at our airport on The Mara. The long red dirt road is where we landed and walked across this little wooden bridge.

This is what was on the other side of the bridge. This is the shelter where you wait for the plane. There are 4 or 5 safari camps out on The Mara. The plane leaves Nairobi and then runs a route like a bus. You go up, and then down to let people off at the first stop, then up again to the next stop, etc. We were the last stop. On the way home the plane was running about two hours behind. At least there was shelter..........

And shopping....... This was (like all airports) the most expensive place to buy anything!!!

We arrived at the camp in the afternoon. Just in time to meet our driver, Nafatali, and take a quick drive. You cannot be on The Mara past 6:30 pm. After that, they assume you are a poacher and you will be shot at. Seriously. Even though the landscape was sparse, there was still a beautiful picture everywhere you turned....... These trees are where you often can see the big cats.

Sunset on the Mara. It was so beautiful. We went during our summer, but their winter, so the days were a bit shorter. The colors were unbelievable.

Bright and early the next morning we took a balloon ride.......... that story will come in the next few days. It was pretty incredible.....