since we have a few days “off” before our next (and very important) round of appointments we are headed out of the city for a little exploration. time to see some more of uganda!
So, I channeled my inner Jacobi today and decided to make the family sauce recipe. We’ve been eating a lot of meat and rice the last three weeks, and changing it up sounded really good. Everyone went on an outing with the neighbors and I stayed home with Elias and Cora and we played, and cooked, and did laundry, and listened to music for most of the day. It felt good to be able to make food for my family, wash their clothes, and just do normal “mom” stuff. I’ve been realizing how much I enjoy taking care of the home and the family and meeting their needs. It’s been one of the hardest parts of the transition to a different environment, especially with the loss of a lot of the conveniences we are used to at home. With days with no water, power, laundry, etc, and with being so tired and out of rhythm, there have been many days where I have been frustrated at my lack of ability to provide what I feel my family needs. It’s made me think a lot about the challenge of living in poverty or in a place where you don’t have access to the “essentials” and the stress that comes along with that. I’ve always thought the stress was more related to the loss of convenience, but since we’ve been here in Uganda I’ve been realizing that the stress of being without the essentials is more about not being able to take care of those who depend on you and not being able to provide for the basic needs of your family. It’s maddening! And when you feel helpless to change the situation (i.e. no power and no water and no way of getting any), it’s the ultimate defeat.
I know the levels I have experienced these things are so so small compared to the reality of the people living just down the street from the community we are living in here. It makes me sad to think about the struggle going on to put food on the table, and to bathe, to keep warm, and to clothe the children that are living there. I’m wondering what it means to be an advocate for these people, to help them have access to the things that they really need. Wondering what it means to be a peace-bringer during our time here, and to not perpetuate these disparities any further. I see a ton of NGO’s (non-government organizations) around here and they are doing phenomenal work along these lines. It’s amazing to see the renewal that can take place in a community and in a household with a little assistance. I’m thinking about how our family can participate in that transformation while we are here. One thing I know it involves for sure- how we spend our money while we are here. Where we eat, shop, who we hire, how generous we chose to be, how we get around, where we hang out. I’m sure it goes beyond that, but that’s where I’m starting since it’s a daily reality and choice we are making.
This experience also has me thinking about home and the way I deal with need and discomfort, and how I participate in the renewal of our neighborhood and city. I’m sure that there’s work to be done in our town, just like there is here in Uganda. I just get too comfortable to see it, and I get too consumed with my world of convenience and consumption to want to do anything about it. Good thing I have a few more weeks to think about this!
My helpers in the kitchen today.
A sign that the sauce turned out pretty good after all (be proud dad)! Making pasta sauce from scratch with supplies from local markets could have yielded a very different result.
Any time we have to be in downtown Kampala we plan our trip around at least one visit to this little eatery called Prunes. With great outdoor seating, a yard with a swing set, slide and trampoline, a menu full of phenomenal selections, a juice bar, home made desserts, a warm and hospitable staff, and a really cute clothing shop in back, it’s hard to go wrong. There have been a few days when a stop here has served as a “reset” button for our family in the midst of long drives and appointments. Today, we were particularly thankful for the clothing store in back as Cora had a blow out upon arrival and needed some new threads. Owen has instructed me that this is where he wants his birthday cake from in 2 weeks. He has the flavor all picked out.
Prunes is a place where both the kids and the adults are happy to visit and linger. It is located on Wampewo Rd and is close to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (where you go for Ugandan passports).
For those of you who check this blog for the personal family updates, I apologize for the random “what to do in Uganda” posts and some of the other general adoption commentary you are getting. I know that when you get an email notifying you that I have made a post you are probably hoping for new kid pictures or stories (not frozen yogurt shops or cool Ugandan eateries). Please don’t be frustrated! For those of us in the international adoption process, it can feel like we are on an island with no concrete information and no clear idea about what to expect. We lean heavily on the experiences of others through blogs and Facebook groups. It is a tremendous help to read about the experience of others when you are preparing to enter the same season, and you are in-country looking for trustworthy recommendations on food, kid-friendly places to visit, or coping strategies for difficult behavior, it is the virtual community that really sheds light and encouragement on a very lonely road. I have benefited much from the postings of others, and so I too am trying to share the love with some of the things that are keeping us sane in the process. Thanks for understanding!
So now, without further adieu, the day’s update:
- another rainy winter day here (which I am really loving). I am starting to feel very at home in the village where we live, in the city, and in the place we are staying. I’ve been thinking a lot about the transition home, which all of a sudden seems to be coming quickly, and how much I will miss certain things about life here.
- the washer got fixed today. Kind of. But it runs for the most part, so it’s an encouragement. I am hopeful that they will return tomorrow with the final solution. I have never got so much joy out of doing laundry before in my life. It’s a big deal, especially when you have 4 little kids and 2 of them poop like crazy (blowouts apparently aren’t just for infants any more).
- took the big kids on a little date for some frozen yogurt. Trying to find times when they can be around Dave or myself without the twins so they can feel like they get our primary attention. This was super fun. It was also fun driving the city with just the older kids. It’s a totally different experience!
- Elias (e-lie-us for those who aren’t sure) and Cora created their own walking-aid today out of a cylinder container we have here for legos. They turn it over and push it all around the house while walking. It’s so fun to see them mobile on their own. The speed of their development already has me so surprised. It’s just been 2 weeks!
- Macy was in a creative mood today and spent most of the day with her journal (a notebook I bought her for the trip) in tow making all kinds of entries. Most entries were stories from our trip so far with classic illustrations to go with them. There were two that did not have a story, but were just portraits. I have included them below. I love seeing her express herself and develop her love for story and writing. She’s good at it, and I’m proud.
- I took an african hip hop class tonight. One of today’s highlights for sure. Half the class was a tribal/pop style dance, and the other half was more zumba/reggatone. I’ll be sore tomorrow. Hip hop and yogurt… some things transcend culture. #feelingathome
- Dave ordered a new shirt yesterday that is being custom made for him. Be excited about that. Some of you who know him well might be able to guess what it looks like… it’s of the long sleeved varietal.
- Owen still thinks “everything is awesome.” He sleeps in, eats well, wrestles his little brother, works in his journal, sings all the time, plays superheroes, misses his buddies, and throws the football like a champ. Oh, and he LOVES hugs from his mom. She’s not complaining.
- Sophie and Tyra are doing well. They are managing to be a huge help here while still finding time to get out and explore a bit. I’m so thankful for these ladies and their sacrifice to join us on this journey.
- We have a few days “off” before passports are ready and before embassy appointments, IOM screening, and visa interviews commence. We are going to try and play a little bit and enjoy this beautiful place!
Cora & Elias. Drawn by Macy (6 years old) Note: Elias has more hair than Cora. #truestoryrightnow
Tyra, being awesome to the twins even though she was trying to read.
On my list of things I’ve been missing: frozen yogurt. Visited this place today with the kids (the only one of it’s kind in the Kampala area that I know of) and felt like I was back home on 17th street. I had to take a photo because it was just too comical how similar it looks to our local yogurt shop. The yogurt and topping selections were impressive, I highly recommend it for those of you who are in Kampala area. You can find it at the Village Mall. Added bonus: there’s an outdoor atrium area where you can sit and eat and get wifi. Satisfies the sweet tooth and also the craving for home. #thingsyoudontthinkyoullfindinuganda
This evening’s work: planning some adventures with Soph and Tyra. The photo on the cover of the travel map is rather ironic considering Uganda is known as the “pearl” of Africa. Of all the beautiful things you could put on a travel map cover… although, an open road in this country is a pretty remarkable sight! #jam
The layers and textures of our day today were unreal. Even now, as I sit and intentionally think back through it, it’s hard to sort out and put words to it all. This whole trip is one surreal experience after another.
We did make it to the embassy and to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (for the twins’ passports) and we also discovered a great new hang out. I had aspired to write all about it and to share some pictures, but I’ll have to wait until I have some more brain power to do it. Tomorrow should be more mellow, so maybe I will have some time and bandwidth to write. Until then, the important thing is that everyone is healthy and happy and sleeping soundly (soon I will be too), and everything is right on track with our process here. Good news!
Today we thought we were going to embassy to do a doc check so we could make sure we have all our ducks in a row before our actual interview takes place. We’ve heard this interview is a big deal, and more difficult than court. Basically, we are told that we have to be prepared to defend our case, knowing all the details of the kids background, family background, and the trial off the top of our head. No lawyer to speak on our behalf, just us. I have to admit that initially, because of all the time I have spent pouring over the files and learning the intricacies of our kids’ story, I was like, “No sweat. we’ve got this. I could do it tomorrow.” But now, I’m more interested in prepping as much as possible (I really want to get this right the first time!), so I was happy to be headed to the embassy to get a feel for it, and to make sure we understand what is expected and that all the paperwork we have is correct (yes, more paperwork to fill out, hooray!).
We were to be ready at 10am. At 10:25 I decided to call our driver. It’s very typical to be late in Uganda. In fact, late isn’t really late at all. Uganda time is VERY different. I didn’t want to seem rude, but all 4 kids were dressed and ready (no small feat! they even all looked nice!) and they were getting restless. So, I called. Embassy day got moved. To tomorrow. Which is good because now we can do our identification verification for the passports (they were filed for today) AND the embassy tomorrow, instead of having to go out twice and pay for a driver twice. It was not good because, well, we had 4 kids dressed and ready to go (did I mention they all looked presentable?) and now we had nowhere to go. There were tears for sure. Everyone was inconvenienced. Tyra and Soph had turned down another offer for a morning out (yeah, that’s right, they are popular!) to go with us because we were going to check out some new places in the city while we were out. And now, nothing to do.
Quick recalibration- another driver (our new beloved friend Joshua who has 18 mo old twins and works for this cool organization called ARM) saves the day. He shows up in 20 minutes (“mizungu time,” not “Ugandan time”) and we make a new plan. Dave takes Macy and Owen for a fun day at Speake resort, Tyra and Soph get to explore places on our list with Joshua, and I stay home with the twins (they were WAY too cranky for an adventure by this point and nap time was just 2 hours away).
So, I got my first one-on-two time with Elias and Cora. It went well, I think. Moderate crying, a few tantrums, but definite laughter, and smiles too (special thanks to the bubbles I threw in my bag last minute for the biggest smiles). We played, ate, and kind of napped. The kids have been pretty good nappers, but today each of them awoke a couple times during the nap and went back down. Not bad, but for a mom who was trying to sleep too, not ideal. So no nap for me, but that’s ok!
The biggest issue with being alone with both kids was that they were both territorial with me. When there are two parents here, they split up, but with just me, it was an all-out competition for my attention, and my lap. Not too hard to navigate, except at bedtime when they both wanted to be held at the same time, ha! I’ll have to work on that.
Other noteworthy things in our household here:
- Sophie and Macy have green hair from the pool (but Macy is ok with it because Sophie has it, too #herostatus)
- We have no clean laundry. Been here two weeks and have had one day with a washer. Got about 3 loads done that day (each load takes 3-4 hours if you can believe it). We have been trying to hand wash and line dry, but drying on the line is hard when it’s rainy season in Uganda. Our clothes keep getting more wet when we hang them out to dry! Things like towels, T-shirts, pjs and underwear are in high demand over here.
- Legos and planes are a big deal
- We eat a flat of eggs, two loaves of bread and a huge bunch of bananas every other day. Trips to the market are a daily thing.
- The twin’s poop is starting to solidify (this is noteworthy- TRUST ME)
- Sophie and Tyra’s adventure today didn’t turn out to be so adventurous. Apparently people think it’s really cold here, and when it rains no one wants to do anything.
- Macy and Owen did however get to go horseback riding in the rain today and then drink hot chocolate to warm up afterwards. Their adventure with daddy was a success (#captainfun)
- We talk daily about our friends and life at home. We miss you all and want to know how you are doing. We are also feeling more and more at home here, which is good too.