Tuesday, 19 August 2014

a marina romper for lucy

a few months ago, i discovered a gorgeous new pattern, the marina romper by califaye collection. i loved the look of it, so i bought it and set to work making one for lucy. it's a very simple pattern to put together, and i sewed it up in no time, even with the added time of enclosing all the seams.
i gave it to lucy for her birthday, and she seemed really happy and excited with her new romper/jumpsuit...that is, until i asked her to put it on. not a chance. i tried a couple of times to get her to wear it, but i didn't want to push her too hard. eventually, i got her to wear it, because we were in denmark, the weather was cold, and she doesn't have many pairs of pants.
it looks so cute on her! i only managed to get a few quick snaps with my phone camera before she ran off to play, and i didn't worry about it, thinking i could get a few more later. the second time she wore them, the fabric in the crotch split. yikes! turns out that i also learnt something about sewing with african wax prints. the grain line runs differently than what i am used to, due to the fabric being used differently (mostly they grab a 2 yard piece of fabric and wrap it around their waists...instant skirt!). at least i know that for next time :)

Friday, 15 August 2014

market day

around here, thursday is market day. people come from all the small villages into nyagatare to sell and buy all kinds of goods. it's our main shopping day, and we are quickly learning which stalls have the freshest produce and the largest range. 
rice, flour, beans, sugar, and nuts are scooped into small paper bags and weighed.
it's always a bit of an adventure going to market, to see what produce is available. we usually make our weekly meal plan after we've been to market, instead of the other way around (although we have a general idea of what to keep an eye out for).

there are also many new and interesting foods to try. this is not a stick, it's cassava root, which is ground into a type of flour and made into a sticky dough. it doesn't taste of much, but is eaten as a side dish with rice and sauce.
it's not just food you can buy at market on thursdays. you can also buy all kinds of shoes, clothes, household items, and fabrics.
grocery shopping is quite different than what we are used to at home. after we've been to market for all our fresh produce, we head into town to visit the small "supermarkets", where we can get hold of all our other food items, such as spaghetti, cereal, cheese, and spreads such as jam. 

most people don't have a car like we do, but all the motorbike taxis (motos) are waiting at the entrance, so it's just to find one, and drive home with the wind in your face!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

project life 2014 {week 31}

hello, project life! i started 2014 with grand intentions of weekly project life pages (and posts). three weeks into the year, two days before our move to rwanda, our laptop's hard drive died. ouch! project life became a distant dream. by the time we got the replacement part sent to us in rwanda (in april sometime), i had lost all my motivation. 

after seeing some very inspiring project life layouts lately (by kelseycaylee and rachel), i decided to throw myself back into it, even though it's already august. this post by caylee also gave me the push to just get it done.

WEEK OF: 28th july - 3rd august, week 31.
WHAT HAPPENED: isabel scratched lucy's eyeball and she had to wear a pirate patch, we were without water for three days, we got new lounge room furniture (yay!), and we walked an hour each way to get to church (talk about identifying with the locals!).
SPECIAL TECHNIQUES: i added my own handwriting (something i've been wanting to do forever) by using the bamboo paper app on my ipad. my biggest hesitation with digital was that my albums were missing my handwriting, but not anymore!
SUPPLIES USED: my own template, "week of" card - paislee press pictures and words no 9, calendar card freebie by ohthelovelythings.com, tracy larsen's week in review card, striped card freebie by bigcityquiet, spotty filler card from midnight edition, "this week" own handwriting. 

i look forward to sharing my project life pages on a more regular basis with you!

Friday, 8 August 2014


Settling back in after four weeks in Denmark

Adjusting to life with slow internet

Appreciating every day we have water

Waking early to find some quiet time to myself

Thinking about how to start a business and create jobs

Feeling optimistic for the first time this year

Preparing for the next year of homeschooling

Planning a blog makeover

Laughing with Jackie (our house help) about our language mistakes

Hoping to do some baking this weekend

Enjoying our new living room furniture we bought last week

What have you been up to lately?

Friday, 9 May 2014

living with poverty

We don't have to go far to relate to poverty. Even with our thick brick walls, we are not isolated from it. Rwanda is far from the poorest country in the world, yet many people in our rural community live in poverty. It surrounds them, controls them, and threatens to consume them. In our brief time here, we have met many people struggling to survive, and have heard of how poverty has a devastating effect on their lives.

A friend of ours had a break in recently. The thieves came into the house during the day, unnoticed, and hid under a spare bed. During the night, they emptied the room of the bed, most of the family's clothes, which were kept in there, and whatever else they could find. This father relayed his sorrow at having had a break in, and that now he couldn't pay for his children to attend school after the semester break. Having already arranged to buy some pigs from him, we bought them straight away so his kids could go to school.

Our colleagues have started visiting the sick in their homes, providing basic health care and giving health related advice. They came to the home of a very poor family. Their one year old didn't crawl or eat solid food, and our colleagues could see that the child was malnourished. When asking about the family's diet, they heard that the family lived solely on corn. The family was allowed to grow some crops for themselves on some nearby land, and had recently harvested beans. During the night, thieves had come in through the windows, which had no bars or glass, and had stolen the entire bean harvest. The family was back to surviving on corn and waiting for the next crop of beans to grow. Fortunately, our colleagues could point out a naturally growing tree in the area which is very nutritious, giving the family hope.

A woman and I were talking (with hand gestures) about how many children we have. She held up 3 fingers, then took one down again. She had recently lost a child. I thought maybe she'd had a miscarriage or a stillborn, but when talking to someone about it, I found out that her 3 year old had died suddenly during the night. The likely cause of death was malnutrition, but as the child hadn't been seen by a doctor, either before or after death, it's guesswork at best. I just wanted to cry.

Our washing mama came looking for work. She and her husband hadn't eaten for 2 days, giving whatever food they had to their two young boys. She has been washing our clothes since we arrived, and last week she asked me if we had a spare t-shirt or 2 for her children. I didn't understand her words, but I knew what she was asking. I found a translator just to be sure, and told her I would have a look before the next time. I knew we had done a heavy purge of the kids' clothes before leaving Denmark, but we still have a lot compared to many people around us. Lucy's clothes were the only size her 2 boys would fit, and Lucy and I picked out a t-shirt together that she wanted to give, making sure it wasn't too girly (of course, they don't care about that). We sent Christian into town to buy a few things and he came home with a small stack of previously loved clothes. The mama was so surprised and grateful to get so many clothes.
Yesterday she was here again, washing our clothes, and Alexander suddenly said,
"They're poor, aren't they?"
"Sorry?" I asked.
"They're poor, because they asked us for clothes."
"Yes they are. but nobody likes to be poor. Do you see how hard the mama is working, so she can buy food for her family?"
"That's why we pay her," he said, "because she's working for us."
"Yes, and she came to ask for work, not for money. She wants to do what she can to help herself."

Hearing these stories makes me angry, sad, frustrated, grieved, hopeless and full of despair. Some days, when I just stay at home, I don't need to see what's happening around me. Some days, I don't want to know. Some days, I just don't know what to do. Living with poverty, right outside our doorstep, is one of the things I was most worried about, when moving to Rwanda. How can we help all these people? The problem is just too big.

And when I get stuck in that thought, it helps to remember something Mother Theresa said,

"Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you."

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

weekending in kigali

the drive to kigali takes about 3 hours through breathtaking country. lush, gently rolling hills are dotted with cattle. the traffic is light, but there are a lot of people. always people. on bikes or walking, carrying their load in their arms and on their heads. even though the drive gets a bit tiresome with three grumpy kids in the back (they are terrible at road trips, but great at flying. go figure!), it's worth doing it once a month.

this weekend we got to enjoy all the things that we don't have where we live. a trip to the bagel shop for bagels and doughnuts, a jumping castle that we visited about 6 times over the weekend, a trip to the cinema to see rio 2, afternoon coffee from a cafe, a supermarket stocked with cheese, salami and sweets, blending in (sort of), and some different eating out options.

we also had plenty of what we're used to. car troubles, delays, people staring and wanting to touch the kids, too many people following us, and falling into bed exhausted after a full day of impressions. it was a full weekend, but a good one.

Friday, 2 May 2014

moments {a weekly collection}

we picked some wild "flowers" on our walk this week. an empty mayonnaise jar made a great impromptu vase, but we had to take them back outside when isabel's face got all red and blotchy.
christian went to umuganda - the monthly community work day. they made mud bricks for housing for refugees returning from tanzania.
learning life skills - washing the dishes. surprisingly, the kids love this chore, especially "queen elsa".
we found this giant beetle. it was the size of lucy's hand, but she was too scared to get close to it (me too, i might add!)
this little guy visited us all week, staring at his own reflection in our mirrored windows. the kids named him "Mister Pjuskede" or Mr Fluffy.
building a new home for the "bunnies" was a team effort.
new sandals!
getting started on lucy's birthday present, a house for her sylvanian bunny family.
playing with hama beads.
we finished painting the dog house. having a toddler helper resulted in a necessary haircut (fyi, toddlers and oil based paint don't mix) for lucy. isabel wanted her hair the same, so they now have these cute little fringes.

we're off to kigali for the weekend. we look forward to going to the cinema, drinking coffee, and buying groceries we can't get hold of here. have a great weekend!