Saturday, December 21, 2013

Moving day

I figured that things weren't quite crazy enough with the holidays and all so we decided that we would move right in the middle of it all!  I mean, why not, right?!  Over the next few days we will move into our home.  I am so excited for so many reasons.  Can anyone say "kitchen"?  Yes, that's at the top of the list.  I'm ready, as are the girls, for them to have their own bedrooms again.  Sierra is ready to have a quiet place to do her homework rather than one big room where everything is going on around her.  And let's discuss the place where I can banish the kids to finished basement.  Sigh.  Yes.  It's going to be good.  And it's going to be the LAST time that we move (at least until kiddos are out of the house).  I realize I said this before, but the next time I pack up a house someone may end up locking my up in an insane asylum.  I don't use this word lightly, but I HATE the process.  I know that most people feel this way.  We've just done it way too often lately.  Cadence has been home with us for 3 years and 3 months.  This will be the 5th house she has lived in since she's been in the US.  Excessive moving.  Thank God that child transitions easily! 

Our new home isn't on a lot of land, it doesn't have a two story living room or a double sided fireplace (all of the "must haves" for our last home).  It is in a fun, safe place for my kids to play.  We are surrounded by some of the most welcoming people that I have met.  I'm finally feeling like this area is "home" and very soon we will be in our own home.  And most importantly it will have my family.  I am feeling very blessed.  Okay, I'll feel VERY blessed once the packing/unpacking is done, but it's on the horizon!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Denial by cookies!

We are supposed to move into our new home in 5 days.  I've been asking Santa to send the  packing fairy to our house early but to no avail.  When I think about packing my right eyelid would start to twitch.  So, I've moved to the land of Denial for now.  I decided it was time to bake.
The supplies

The results
I intended to double everything but after the doubling the chai eggnog cookies and salted chocolate caramel pretzel bark I decided single batches of the rest would due.  I used almost everything that I bought.  That's a LOT of butter!  I'm not sure why I made so much.  It was a good distraction and possibly to make up for the fact that we have a little four foot tree and exactly 3 Christmas decorations up.  If baking wasn't it's usual cathartic experience for me then I was just going to eat my way through the depressing state of our apartment.
Luckily though, the baking got done even in our tiny kitchen and I feel a little merrier.  Needless to say the kid's teachers will be getting plenty of treats to start their break!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Hotel creeps

Brad had a conference at the Greenbrier resort and my parents were kind enough to watch the girls for a few days so that I could tag along for a mini-getaway with him.  It had previously been used as a hospital during WWII and then became a hotel in the 1940's.  I don't believe they've redecorated since then.  Seriously.  Check out the pictures!  It's a neat experience though... feels like you're thrown back a century or so.  The service is fabulous and all of the food is to die for.  And it was just Brad and me!  Our first getaway in a few years was much needed time to focus on us.

The only problem is that I have trouble sleeping in these type of hotels.  The first one that we ever went to was the Homestead resort in 2007.  We went on a Wednesday and it was fairly empty.  I commented to Brad as we walked down the long, deserted, lush hallway that I felt like I was in "The Shining".  I probably psyched myself out a bit as I taunted "Redrum, redrum". Anyway, we got to our room and saw that there was a door inside, as if there was an adjoining room.  There was only a deadbolt though, no knob to actually get into the room.  We looked out in the hallway where the adjoining room would have been.  There was a door there, but again, only a lock. No knob, no room number.  It did looked like it had been painted over, not used in a long time.  

We had a fabulous dinner that night and basically a relaxing time.  That night, though, I had a dream.  I dreamt that there was a little boy standing in front of the door to the adjoining room.  He was dressed in 1920's period clothing and was definitely a ghostly presence.  When I awoke I was so shaken that I couldn't get back to sleep for a while.  Now, this isn't unusual for me.  I have strange dreams all of the time.  Not necessarily dreams about ghosts but dreams that I cannot tell if they are real or not.  Dreams that leave me feeling as if I have truly experienced them.  It happens so often that by the morning I didn't even mention it to Brad.  He doesn't usually have similar dreams and he doesn't believe in ghosts or spirits.

We checked out and had just gotten into the car.  Brad told me that he had a hard time getting to sleep.  When I asked him why he said that he kept feeling like he heard children laughing on the other side of the adjoining door. C-R-E-E-P-Y.

And that... is why I don't sleep well in old, historic hotels!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cadence's dance recital

I'm determined to get caught up on 2013 before it ends!  Cadence performed in her first dance recital back in May.  She was going to stop taking dance in December but then saw their outfits for the recital and decided to stick it out.  She knows that you have to sacrifice for cute clothes sometimes!  She was in class with three of her best buds, so she had fun.  Cadence did great at the performance.  "Great" for me means that she walked onto the stage and stayed the whole time.  Cadence even danced too!
Showing off her outfit

Lila Kate, Cadence, and Blair

What a cutie!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Catching up on birthdays

Since we were moving two weeks before Sierra's birthday we had an early pool party/ mini birthday celebration for Sierra.  In the month before we moved we had a few pool parties.  Part of this moving process has opened my eyes a bit.  We'd wanted to have a lot of gatherings after the pool went in but kept waiting until it was "perfect".  Sadly, we moved before things were perfect.  I wish we would have just bit the bullet and had all of the parties that we wanted despite any "flaws" that we saw.  Sigh.
Anyway, Sierra had quite the group of friends over for her celebration.  They had a blast!  So much fun to watch them be silly together!

Love this one!

Sierra's actual birthday at our apartment.  She was too tired to "bust into a new year".  It was more like a stroll.

She had a couple of friends over for a small celebration
I'm not going to lie... it's hard to look at the pictures of our old house.  I miss the house, the land, the chickens, the pool.  I miss watching the girls play with abandon in the pool, not worrying about who might see them (Sierra's hang-up).  I miss our open living room. wall full of windows, and the fireplace.  I know that some of this is being cooped up in this apartment while half of our belongings are in town.  I'm sure it will be better when we our own house.  And I know that we made the right choice to move for so many reasons.  I just need to focus on those reasons and this view...

Off our balcony
I struggled with what to do for Laurel's birthday.  In the spirit of biting the bullet, I went ahead and had her party here in our tiny apartment.  I realize it's not that small, but when you get 15 excited girls in here... it sure feels like it!  Her obsession with "Teen Beach Movie" gave me an easy theme.
The cake

Congo line to the soundtrack

Pin the flower on the surf board

After decorating picture frames they watched the movie
I had thought that they would all settle down when they watched the movie.  It was great for about 30 minutes.  Then, half the girls wanted to sing and dance during the musical parts and the others wanted them to be quiet.  So... they all got a little rowdy by the end.  Laurel had fun, though, and I think most of her guests did too.  I'm glad that I bit the bullet and had her party here.  It reminded me why I'll have parties at venues other than our house for the next few years!

Late night fun!

The grandparents came for a birthday celebration too (and Laurel got her precious Saige doll)
Laurel asked for cat donations for the animal shelter instead of gifts from her friends at her birthday party (in memory of Rummy).  The parents  kids were so generous!  We took the items to the shelter and were able to watch some of the cats play with the toys.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Uganda - the signs

There were so many signs unique to the country that they deserve their own post!  Some funny, some scary, and some very proactive for the country and it's people.
Posted in the hospital.  The picture made me crack up!

On top of the sign is one of "storks"

One of those storks. Gross!  But there were signs for paint everywhere.  I wondered if the businesses got props for advertising.

In the grocery store


On our tour by Jinja.  Beyond curious to know why!

Our own sign, but funny nonetheless.  Kermit holding the ECHO machine hostage.

These were paintings in the pediatric ward

Was this meant to be comforting?!  I can only imagine the uprising if this was on our wall at work!

Kampala is fairly progressive in their effort for HIV prevention
(on a funny note, Sierra saw this picture and asked if those were pacifiers!)


One of the scarier signs
This land is not 4 sale!

Kampala, Uganda - the place

The sights, sounds, and smells of Kampala, Uganda were overwhelming.  So much to see and so little time to take it all in.  Below are some of my favorite pictures from my trip.  I've been scrambling to find some that were copied to a disc that my friend took during our tour to Jinja, but it's apparently buried in a box somewhere.  I'm sure I'll find it in 2014!
Love the clothes and the balancing skills

This was across the street from the hospital

One of the markets.  I found out after my first trip to the market that the women are offended if you don't barter with them.  Everything was so inexpensive that I felt guilty talking them down.  I tried to change my ways for the rest of the trip.  I think that the amount of things that I bought negated any bargain that I scored!

It's hard to tell what they are doing from this distance (this was about the time that I realized my lens was broken... grrr!).  That is a tea field.  They are cutting the grass/tea.  With machetes.

It wasn't until I got home that I saw this picture.  I took quite a few photos from our vehicle, but this was the only the one a reflection of my "Live Alyssa Live" bracelet.  It took my breath away to see it in this photo of a church.
These boys were sliding down a hill on a piece of tree bark.  When they saw us they asked if they could sing a song for us!  Wish I'd had video!

The differences in so many of the homes and businesses was very interesting.

This was at the entrance to Jinja (the beginning of the Nile River).  Notice the difference in "A Ugandan adult"  and "The rest of the world"!

Monkeys all around

One of the sources of the Nile.  So cool that I got to put my feet in it!  It was very tame since they damned it a few years prior.

Construction site with sticks for support

Chicken anyone?  He delivers!

Some things are universal

The hotel pool

The hospital courtyard

The Ugandan nurses gave us tribal names.  Mine was "Birungi" which I was told meant "Beautiful" and "It's all good"

Touring the hospital this nurse told me she was from the Birungi tribe

Our favorites after a long day!

We promised the director that we would ride on a boda-boda, but I had to get my picture on one

The nursing team

Our last day we went to visit a chimpanzee sanctuary

Loved these birds and their nests

We toured during a feeding time

This guy was just ready to catch some fruit!

These are smart animals!

A few more buildings on our way to the airport

Necessities... Nile special and bug repellent

These holes were everywhere.  Made it a little scary walking at night.  I'm totally curious as to how many people fall into the "water" 6 feet below.

Action shot of Jen and I on the boat ride from the chimp sanctuary