Sunday, February 27, 2011

Not even a minute

We can't leave her for a minute. I was chatting to some ladies about baby stuff and then I heard screaming. The older kids were running away from Alli the Paint Monster. She gets into everything these days.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


The most traffic I have ever experienced is in LA on the 405. Just unbelievable -a sea of cars at snails' pace for 3 hours! This week, we got stuck in traffic in Lilongwe during peak hour and it was quite something. In LA, you can always listen to the radio for traffic details or exit the freeway and use streets to get to your destination. But in Lilongwe, you have to just sit because there's just that one road that takes you to where you need to go. Perhaps we need to work hard at practicing patience.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Baseball Dad

Brian did a fabulous job looking after and caring for our babies while I was away! In fact for the first two days Alli kept asking for him and not me. He's such a good dad! Today he took time out to show our 'third culture kids' how to play baseball. They got it eventually:)
Ben totally missed the ball, but his swing was pretty good.

We played in the dirt circle at the end of our driveway.

Our neighbour, Matt getting into it.

Time to pack away and head inside.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Here and there

I ate this every morning while in CA!

Stephanie and me. Thanks Steph for doing all you did, even when you weren't well!

There were 927 people in our group and that was the third ceremony of the day.

Brian's very dear Dr. Uncle and Aunt Liz!.

Celebrating with the Taglieres!

Smiles all around.

A group of friends came out from Seal Beach to attend the ceremony too. (L-R) Renee and Darlene have both been to Malawi and were of those who helped hugely to get our house done before we moved in 2008. Sweet Velma prays for us very faithfully and her son Robert oversees Seal Beach's mission board.

Before arriving in Malawi I stopped over at my folks' and had dinner with some familiar ABC faces.

Boy, was I happy to see this face :) :)

To celebrate in Lilongwe, Rachel made this fantastic American Flag Cake!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day Nine - She's Home!

At noon today I (along with Benja and Alli) picked up both Ami and Brad from School and the 5 of us headed to the aiport to pick up Anita. I had to pull Ami out of school early and she was so excited to see her mom. As we were walking towards the car she said, "Daddy, this is the best day of my life!"

We are so grateful that Anita was able to go, get her citizenship, and then return safely. We had a little family celebration when she got home (complete with our 4th of July decorations).

There is no doubt that these last 9 days have given me a greater appreciation for mothers (and most especially, Anita). Also, there have been a number of times this week where I have thought about single parents - I think they are my new heroes.

A BIG "thank you" for those of you who have prayed for Anita (and me) during this little adventure.

Now that Anita's back, I plan to take a hiatus from blogging. But thanks for all who have commented. It has been fun sharing my pics and thoughts on her blog while she has been away, but it is much better to have her back - even if she is starting to speak with an American accent.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day Eight - Valentine

I spoke to Anita this evening in Johannesburg. Her flights have been fine and she is enjoying a night at her parents house. Since she is coming back tomorrow (Feb. 15), it gave the kids an extra day to work on some Valentine cards.
The kids didn't have school today because of a teacher training day. So it was kind of nice since my day off is also Monday. We enjoyed the 3-day weekend - but REALLY looking forward to mom getting back. Tomorrow it is off to school for the older two and then immediately after school we go to pick up Anita. - I think we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel :).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day Seven - She's On Her Way

We spoke to Anita today just before her flight from LA to DC and then again before her flight from DC to Johannesburg. Tomorrow night Anita will sleep at her parent's house and then she will be here on Tuesday. We are all so excited!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day Six - The "Home Stretch"

Only 3 more days until Anita gets back! But all in all, today was a good Saturday. Allison woke up at 6 AM and so Ami and I got up then too. The boys slept until 8:00! For those of you who are wondering how late last night went, let's just say that I wouldn't recommend promising an "all-nighter" to 4 kids when you are responsible to look after them the next day. As we were watching the third movie, I fell asleep at about 10:30 PM. At 11:15 PM Bradley woke me up and said, "Hey dad, can you put on the next movie?" I looked at him and said, "I know I said we could stay up as late as we want, but I (meaning “we”) want to go to sleep and I think you guys need to as well." They all seemed to be wide awake, but surprisingly (apart from a couple "awww's") they said, "Okay, dad." I think that they were ready for sleep and didn't complain about not staying up last night, today.

You could see that they were tired today. Ami, especially -- she actually rested during rest time. Ben, on the other hand, showed his tiredness another way - by his lack of good judgment. He snuck into Ami's room to wake her up during rest time (for which he was disciplined). Since the kids were quite tired today, they all went to bed at 6:00 PM and Ben was the first one out. Ben has been doing quite well while mom has been away. I have especially enjoyed spending time with him this week in the mornings while Alli is sleeping and the other two have been at school.

Speaking of "home" and "stretch," Is it just me, or does it look like Bradley (our home "fixer-upper") has grown this week. Perhaps we should start calling him "stretch."

And since we are talking about stretchy things. Today, some of our neighbors helped me by watching the kids at their house for a few hours while I studied in the office. Their gardener, Jamu, found 8 little snake eggs (one is missing from the photo). The shells were actually rubbery and you could stretch them. Jamu cut one open and found a little baby snake inside. The kids liked touching them and looking at them - it was sort of like playing with gummy worms. I liked it that Jamu found the snakes BEFORE they hatched. Go Jamu!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bourne Identity

I cannot believe the day has finally come. I was so excited and yes there were even tears shed during the National Anthem. It's taken about five years to get to this stage and that's without ever living in the U.S.A. The U.S. government also allows me to keep both my South African and Dutch passports and so I'm now "Bourne Identity".

Day Five - Celebration Day

So today is the big day. Anita becomes a U.S. citizen today. The kids also have a little celebration - five full days with daddy! Before Anita even left for the U.S., I told the kids that one of the nights when she is away, we will have "no bed time." I said we could stay up and watch movies until we fall asleep. The kids just looked at me with big smiles, but were kind of puzzled like "is it even possible to have a night without a bed time?" Our Friday night started out with all four kids watching a movie at 5:30 PM.
Part way through the movie, I pushed pause and we took a break for dinner (popcorn, hot dogs, mac 'n cheese, and carrot sticks). The kids then bathed and Allison went to bed - she wasn't really aware of the "all-nighter." Then the rest of the kids finished the movie. I moved the kids into a "bug hut" (a free standing mosquito net) since it is still malaria season.
We are now watching movie number 2. These kids are surprising me. I might have bitten off more than I can chew here. I thought they would be out by the end of the second movie, but all three are still with us (and Ami said she wanted to stay up until 1:00 AM!). I am not so concerned about these three falling asleep in the bug hut - it's Allison who will be up tomorrow morning at 5:30. Only four more days until Anita gets back. It's all down hill from here - right?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day Four - Amazing Ami

I was talking to Anita on the phone tonight and I was telling her how amazed I am at Ami and the way she has really stepped up to be that helper that I wrote about a couple of days ago. I am sure Ami doesn't know how helpful she really is but knowing how "unhelpful" I was at that age, it really is quite ... amazing.
Yesterday the kids came up with a little game of building a house out of rocks.

I haven't been doing Ami's hair, although yesterday her teacher thought that I had done it because it kind of looked like something I could accomplish. She had 7 braids somewhat randomly done around her head. Ami had decided to do them herself before school. I thought it looked cute.

This morning I asked her if she would like me to do her hair and she was quite excited about it. I worked really hard to get that part down the middle and went for 2 braids instead of 7. It was a bit rainy on the way to school but I was able to snap this picture of her. The picture makes it look better than it was -- there is no way that I braid hair as well as Anita. But I think I could learn if it meant that Ami would know how grateful Anita and I are to God for blessing us with her.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day Three - Swingin'

Well, we are more than surviving today. It seems like we have found ourselves swinging through the day in a little routine. We have a Malawian lady named Cecelia who is helping to look after the younger two while I am working and then all four in the afternoon. Besides the early morning wake-up times, I spend a couple hours with the kids at lunch and then from 4:30 PM until bed time. Some church friends have been helping out with meals as well - yay!

Today, Ben and I went to pick up Ami and Brad from school. They have this hut thing for the kids to play on and it has a rope on one of the corners. Bradley and some of his kindergarden cohorts figured that if they climb up on the railing of the stairs to the hut and swing off the railing they could have a better swing. I watched it a couple of times and then decided to video it with my phone. The falling down didn't seem to deter them. They just kept on climbing back up. I am not sure if they are allowed to do this, but hey - when mom is not around :)...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day Two - Still Surviving

We are doing okay here while Anita is away, but I sure appreciate her a lot more. Mornings are tough! Benjamin is not so tough in the mornings. He is 3 - which means he prefers to get dressed all by himself and he doesn't need to go to school - so time is not really an issue.

Allison is also pretty easy in the mornings. She can feed herself and she likes cold cereal (even if it looks like cardboard in milk). I have to admit, though, yesterday was MUCH easier with her. This morning, she decided to take off her poopy diaper before she got out of bed. This means I had to bathe her and I think I should probably wash her sheets.
Speaking of laundry, each morning I am trying to get all the dirty clothes out into the hall way so that I can sort them and keep ahead of it. (Only 7 more days until Anita gets back - but who's counting?)
Bradley and Ami have to be at school by 7:10 AM. Yesterday, we couldn't find Bradley's belt (yes, Anita, the one you told me to make sure he doesn't lose because it was part of his "spy outfit" when he played "spy" on the weekend). Dad: "Bradley, where is your belt?" Bradley: "I don't know, dad?" Dad: "Think, my son, where did you have it last?" Ami: "Hmmmm, maybe it is still in the mango tree with your other spy stuff, Brad?"

Sure enough, it was more than 10 feet up in the tree. I had to lift Ami up there and she was able to get it down. Both yesterday and today we have been at school before 7:00 AM. Ami has been a super help! She is my "go-to girl." She is only 7 but she seems to know where everything in the house is and how it all works (she even knows the mango tree well). She can bathe Alli, help Brad with piano lessons, and helps out pretty much everywhere - usually with a great attitude! What a sweetie! But have I mentioned that it is only 7 more days until Anita gets back?

Day One

So this is Anita's blog, but I (Brian) am doing double duty while Anita is in the U.S. so I thought I would try to keep up with her blog a bit while she is away. Today (Monday) was the first day without Anita. We dropped her off yesterday at Kamuzu International Airport at about noon so that she could finally take her oath in California and become a U.S. Citizen. We have been applying for this for several years, and are glad it is finally happening. Unfortunately for us who are left behind it means 9 days without her. Day one got off to an early start with ALL four kids up by 5:45 AM. But how bad can your day be when you wake up to a smile like Alli's?