Friday, January 27, 2017

First Day in the Snow

Our first morning, we all woke up from a warm night to see beautiful views out our windows.

When everyone was ready for breakfast, we were stumped for a little while as to how to get to where food was prepared.

The night before, after we checked in, a man took us up to our room in a SUV with chains on his tires.  But now we realized we were far from the restaurant/lodge, and there was no foreseeable trail.

So we called the front desk to inquire, and they said, "We will send a car."

This picture is taken from the restaurant, looking back up at the rooms.  It is quite a distance.

But I couldn't help but wonder, "What if this place was totally booked?  Would they shuttle all of those people back and forth to meals in the scant three SUV's they own or what?"

This is a view, looking up from the sledding area, without the sun in your eyes.

Well, they came and got us.  There were only two or three families there on Thursday night, so it was easy to manage.

They chose a breakfast for us, and told us four servings would be plenty for the six of us, and they were right.  It's called the "Arab Breakfast."  One serving came with an omelet, a turkey sausage, cucumbers, tomatoes, labneh (Lebanese yogurt), slices of a mild cheese, olives, tahini (sesame seed) paste mixed with honey and Nutella, bread, apples, and oranges.

It was good.

Then, we went outside to explore.

While Caleb and Keira were experiencing their first snow ball fight with some national kids, Kylie and Karis tried out this swing.

From the top, we could see the city we have had our eye on for awhile as a possible location to move.

Here's a closer look.

And an even closer one.

Besides snow ball fights, making snow angels was definitely on the agenda. 

Making a snowman was too, but after several tries with snow that wouldn't pack tightly, we took a picture with some kind of small alien creation we put together.

I'll spare you the sad photo.

Then, we tried out sledding for the first time.  Below, is a picture of my sledding companion.

Isn't she cute?

She is standing on a MOVING conveyor belt that is taking our sled and us to the top.  This is not America, and you can tell because there are no rails or safety features to keep us secure.

This was the last happy ride for this little girl.  After this sled down the hill, her toes had had enough.  

How do we get back to our room to warm her up?

I went to the front desk (which is a one room check-in station at the top of the teleferik cable), and he said he could call a car, but since several people were checking in with all of their luggage, he thought it would be better if I walked 1/4 mile over to the restaurant because a car would come there faster.

The sad little girl and I headed for the restaurant, and eventually a car did come.

After warming up for about an hour and putting on dry socks, the rest of the crew came in, and they wanted us to come back down so we could see them ride a new ride and watch them sled one more time.

With new vigor, the little girl said, "Ok."

Doug and the three olders rode the "Skyswing," while all the people who were still on the mountain cheered them on behind me.

(The SkySwing a machine that pulls them back and up and lets them go, much like the big pirate ships that you see swinging in parking lot carnivals).

The last sled ride of the day was a little different.  The snow was starting to ice over, and the worker on the mountain wouldn't let us use sleds anymore.  He said it was too dangerous.  We had to use inner tubes on a track instead of just going down the snowy slopes.  You can see the tracks to the left of Keira on the picture above when she's on the conveyor belt.

The inner tubes were a little more scary for Keira and I because we couldn't control it.  It was a straight path, but we still had the capability to spin and not see where we were going.  I think there might have been some screaming on my part.

Even though we had to take a car back up. 
Wait a while. 
Call another car for dinner. 
Call another car to go back up, etc.,
I'm glad we had gone down after warming up so that we could see this...

This was taken with my iphone.  It really was this pink and beautiful. 

Wish you could have been there.

(And I want to wish my handsome son a happy birthday!)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Our Weekend Away

Some sweet people are letting us borrow their car while they are away, so the weekend after the kids went to school at the beginning of January, we decided to get away from the city for two nights. 

We headed to the mountains.

These are the first small ones we saw as we left the city.

Then, after about an hour, we headed into the canyon as the sun set. 

About this time, we actually got a phone call from the place we were staying saying, "Are you still coming?"

They were concerned, because the hotel we were staying in is on top of a VERY tall mountain.  

And the only way to get up to the hotel is to take a small, gondola-type car called a "teleferik."

And the teleferik was getting ready to shut down for the night.

But...we made it.

This is our last look at the teleferik station below as we headed up the mountain into the darkness of the night.

As we neared the resort (after a FIFTEEN minute ride up the mountain), we started seeing signs of civilization (and SNOW) outside our windows.

Keira's first time to touch and see the snow.

It was also my older kids first time to be in the snow (posing with a small reminder of Africa).

But as you can see from the picture, we were ill-prepared for snow in the shoe-department.

There were definitely some frozen toes and fingers the next day (and maybe a few tears from a 4-year old about how miserable she was because her socks were soaked and icy...I totally don't blame her).

HOWEVER, the place where we stayed had 24-HOUR ELECTRICITY, heat CONSTANTLY running, heated bathroom FLOORS, and a heated TOWEL RACK in the bathroom.

Now, THAT is cause for a picture to be taken in the bathroom!

It was a fun first night!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Year's Eve

I figure since January is half over, I'd probably better post about New Year's Eve before it gets much later.

As you can tell, I'm no good at selfies but here we are...most of us.

Karis is on the other side of me.

We are up on the roof, sitting on doshaks, covered in several blankets, wearing several layers of clothes, eating snacks, and watching a movie while a nice fire burns at our feet.

This off-centered picture shows you our white shower curtain screen hanging on our third-floor wall.

We made great memories, had a fantastic time, and we love "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe," but after the movie was over, we high-tailed it downstairs to get warm in front of a heater.

We ate snacks, skyped some friends, and waited for midnight.

With five minutes to spare (and no Dick Clark to count us down), we took an iphone to the roof for proof of midnight, and we watched some pretty pitiful fireworks going off in the 360 degrees around our roof.

We face-timed both sets of grandparents from the roof and wished them a happy new year while it was still 3pm in Texas.

The fireworks weren't spectacular, but my kids had so much fun on this night that we've decided to keep the movie-watching on the roof as a yearly tradition.  Thanks, Doug, for making this night so much fun.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Books, Books, Books!

Look who has a store here.

Just kidding.  It's obviously not the store you are familiar with, but it has books, nonetheless.

The top floor had current top sellers, and the basement was full of classics, textbooks, educational, foreign, and more top sellers.

It even smelled like new books.


Doug and I took Kylie and another girl who needed readers for school this term.  Apparently, this is the store that the teachers asked to order The Great Gatsby and The Crucible so the students could buy them. 

I don't mind purchasing them, although it's a little different than America where everyone gets a copy checked out to them free from the school library.

It beats what Karis and Caleb had this last term.  They were given The Westing Game and Charlotte's Web copied on 11x17 paper and stapled together!

Each student!!

The entire book!!

That is a LOT of paper.

I guess it's no different than any other subject at their school.  Just like Africa, there are no textbooks at their school.  All information is written by the teacher on the board or lectured to the students, and they get whatever they can copy down in their notebooks.

They are also handed packets of paper which are copied out of textbooks that cover certain topics, but they never get the actual book itself.

I like books too much.  I want the real thing in my hand; however, I didn't bring any with me, so I have relied solely on my Kindle, which probably accounts for my worsening eyesight lately.

But NOW, I know about Amazon, and my husband knows how to get there, so I can get a good-smelling, new book anytime I want.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Celebrating Outward

On Christmas Eve, we took cookies and homemade hot chocolate mix (with instructions written in their language) to all the neighbors we have relationships with.

In our limited language, we told them we were celebrating the birthday of Jesus the Messiah, and we wanted to share something with them.

Part of that sharing, included a notecard with Luke 2:10-11 written on it.

I'm so grateful for Kylie and Karis for doing all of those for me.

One bonus was that I had two dishes to return to a lady as well, so I stacked them inside each other, filled them up with "puppy chow," fudge, and cookies, and called it done.

During the last week of school, during exams, the kids also took their teachers homemade hot chocolate mix in zip lock bags they had decorated.  The ones below must have been for the neighbors though, because they are not written in English.

I'm "real" smart, huh?

And these are the instructions telling them how to mix it with hot water or add it to a cup of coffee.

I must say that when I moved here, I thought I would NEVER learn the alphabet or how to read, but I'm surprising myself every day.  I'm not as good as my kids, but I can read/recognize 90% of the alphabet now.

Older minds can still do a few things....

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Tree

The tree is mostly decorated with things we collected over the last 5 years; however, we added a few local touches from here.

The red blankets wrapped down the center of the tree and at the base of the tree are Massai blankets.
The acorns were collected on the mountains here that we camped on.

Krest was my favorite drink in Uganda.  You can see UGsh (Uganda Shilling) written after the price if you look hard.

The stars were from Africa, too, but the twisty ties and paper clips used to hang the decorations are new this year :)

Paper clips are hard to bend.  Ask Doug and his sore hands.

Dr. Pepper bottle caps were collected in America, Fanta Strawberry was from Uganda, and Freez is from here.  The small, red baskets are from Uganda, and our kids get a treat inside them on Christmas morning.  The zebra is made from banana leaves, and it's from Uganda, too.

The blue, green, and yellow beaded decoration is actually an earring bought in Kenya.

A shout out to my favorite drink again.

The Coca-Cola company makes this drink, and it is such a shame that it is not offered in America (or here)!

The bottle cap on the right is from a drink called "Stoney Tangawizi." 

I think it's downright awful, but I think you either love it or you hate it.  It is made from ginger, and it burns all the way down.

And the beads hanging down the sides of the tree are attached to this mock Massai necklace that we bought in Kenya.

(The cheap, silver star on top is complements of our current country :)

So there you have it.

A personal tour of our Christmas tree, whether you wanted it or not :)  Actually, this blog is like a family scrapbook for me, so I know I include things that you might not always be interested in, but I appreciate you reading along anyway.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Decorating for the Holidays

Well, after Doug made us a TV stand, bookshelves, and a side table out of pallets, he had some wood left over and decided to put it to good use.

He made us a Christmas tree.

He measured, cut, sanded, and entertained the neighbors with their curiosity.

Each piece was lowered down the pole, situated, and then another was put on top of the last

until it looked like this.

And while we were decorating and eating snacks, Doug put on a video for Keira.

She LOVES Christmas lights!

So, last year, Doug videoed our hay ride through "Santa's Wonderland" in College Station, knowing that we wouldn't have the opportunity to see lights again in the upcoming years.

I think the video was a hit.

Here she is eating at the table, and she's completely turned around.

Thanks JD & L for the tickets to "Santa's Wonderland."  They are the gift that keeps on giving!

It took us 24 hours to figure out how we wanted to hang decorations on the tree, but after a little extra drilling, Doug had it all figured out.

And Doug to the rescue again...he hung a broom stick on the wall so that we had a place to hang our stockings.

Kylie painted a canvas to hang in the living room.

She also made snowflakes for the ceiling, and Karis made green and red Chinese lanterns.

I think our kids have gotten used to non-traditional ways of decorating, and everyone enjoys taking part and doing their own thing.

A good time was had by all.