Some of you at home have been asking me to send you pictures of the bump known as little Miss May.

So, at 30 weeks, this is what she’s looking like.  Perspective and clothing can make a big difference in the “bump” looking small or huge in my opinion…the last shot making her look huge, but actually, this is the kind of view I get most of the time!

I am savoring each bit of this precious pregnancy, thankful for the gift that has been given to me after 2 that have been lost.

I think this is a "feel small" kind of outfit.....


Momma clothes as the market sellers call them....


the view for the kids most of the time....

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Today Ian and I had a conversation that I am almost positive we had before Eli was born.

It has to do with the baby’s sleeping arrangements.

Before Eli was born, I had THE most difficult time justifying why we needed a cradle (borrowed) for him.  Ian was empathic that we could just use a drawer from the dresser, or even a tub.  He’s really a practical guy, and most of the time I appreciate this about him, but not today.

Today, we had that conversation all over again….pretty much 5 years later to the day.

It went a little something like this:

Ian-“Why can’t the baby sleep in bed with you?”

Me-“Because I don’t sleep with a baby in bed with me.  I have nightmares that I’m going to squish it, or that it will get caught in the mosquito net”  (Yes, we have the added bonus of having to consider real functional netting at night for me and the baby so we don’t get The Malaria).

Ian-somewhat jokingly, but not quite enough, “And why would you want to deprive the baby of that nurturing?”

Anne- “Because I don’t sleep with a baby on me all night and I don’t think you all want me that *itchy from not sleeping”

Ian-“It’s just 2 months.”


Ian-“Where are you going to put the cradle?”

Anne-“There (pointing at the end of our bedroom where my desk currently is, but won’t be) or maybe in the guest room.

We journey to the  guest room.

Ian- “And where will it go in here?”

Mind you, I am a spatial planner and I have been planning this arrangement of new baby furniture since the 2nd ultrasound confirming this baby’s viability (so for 5 months now).

Anyhow….the conversation continued…with a lot of back and forth and Ian ending with:  “So why can’t we just prop up this bed and then the baby lies on one side and you use the other side as a changing area?”

To which I replied, “Hey, if I have to have a baby in Africa, don’t go ruining the small amount of pleasure I might get from having a cradle made, and buying a used changing table.”

Ian-“Don’t I get a say?”

Me-“Not really, cause I’m the one getting up to feed it and change it in the middle of the night.”

Ian-“But I can’t breast feed it.”

Me-“That’s my point.”

So, I think this conversation will die like the one did before Eli was born….and when Ian comes back from his 4 year amnesia of what it is like to go without sustained night sleep for months on end because of a fussing baby.

In that spirit, I’m going to take this picture to the local carpenter in the market to see if he can make this, or something close in approximation:
Allegro Cradle

I’ll keep you updated on the “arrangement”.

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Eli, who is  4 years old (5 in May) is a very perceptive boy.  He takes note of a lot that goes on around him, and of what is said.

He is apparently very aware of my gestational diabetes, because while eating some candy yesterday, he informed me, “This is very bad for you huh mom?”  To which I sadly nodded yes.  To which he added, “And my ice cream yesterday, when you took a bite, that was REALLY bad for you.”  To which I further nodded in affirmation.  And then he cheerfully added, “But once the baby is here you can have it all!”  To which I joyfully agreed.

Lucy, also, is very attentive to what is happening around her.  The girl can’t help but be obsessed with babies and baby care as we are running a residential program for vulnerable pregnant women with services lasting through the babies first 4 months.  At any given moment, Lucy is able to go to the women’s dormitory or classroom and have her pick of beautiful babies to look at and touch.  She herself carries her un-named Corolle baby with her EVERYWHERE.  Along with all of the necessary baby paraphernalia.  Extra changes of clothes, bottles, toys, pacis, diapers (swiped from my one pack of newborn disposables).  She is very aware of OUR baby though, and reminds me throughout the day to be saving things for it, for when it comes.  Hair barettes, pairs of socks, used diapers, left-over cereal, outgrown clothing, colored pictures, dropped malaria pills, you name it.  She is a very thoughtful, and planful little girl.  I appreciate that about her. 

Last night, when the baby was in an awkward position and giving me a cramp, and I complained of it, Lucy exclaimed, “Well, then you better go to the doctor and tell her to take her out so you can feel better!”  Good idea Lucy.  I like your style.  But then again, this is the little girl who wants me  to keep my shirt up all of the time so her little sister can see out of my tummy.   Like my shirt is the window shade preventing this little girl from “seeing the world”.  Oh  my.

Playing "baby" together. I love these kids!

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I’m reading many posts on facebook about people enjoying the sunny weather in Portland…and it got me to thinking a bit about the weather here.  I always have wanted to live in a warm climated area, so I could wear summer clothes year round and have a tan…’s my chance.

For the most part,we have beautiful weather year round here in Kenya.  We live in Thika, which isn’t too far outside of Nairobi (about 25 miles), but we are at a slightly lower altitude, and are a bit more arid and hot.  Nairobi sits right about a mile high from sea level…similiar to Denver, but since it sits right on the equator, it has very temperate enjoyable weather.  Nairobi sits beautifully somewhere in the 70’s, pretty much year round.  It’s hard to complain about that!

Right now, we  are in the hottest time of the year in Kenya.  Our temps are generally in the 80’s, with a very intense, hot sun.  We have learned to get along with standing fans….as power is unpredictable out here, and I’ve only seen AC in hotels, although I imagine most nice homes in Nairobi might have it.

We also happen to be in between the 2 rainy seasons that hopefully occur every year.  There are the short rains from November to December, and then the long rains from April to June.  It doesn’t rain continuously during these months, but it would not be unusual to have showers for a few hours each day, followed by an intense showing of sun and warmth.   Locals depend on these rains for the crops of maize, skuma, beans, cow peas, cilantro etc. that are planted at least twice per year.

As for enjoying the sun, we do, although we have become more like locals who live in warm weather year round, and wear pants and jeans in temperatures that most Portlanders would sweat in.  I do enjoy having tanned skin, but it isn’t the same as home where I might seek out the sun, or lay by a pool.  No laying by the pool or tanning out here in Thika…..although a pool would change my day to day life significantly here!!!  My best shot at getting a tan is taking a walk to the outdoor market that is a couple of of kilometers away and using the bronzer powder that sits in my make up bag! 

What the view from my kitchen typically looks like when maize is not being grown in the distance

I think about this beautiful weather and wonder if I’ll long for it once we are living again in Portland, Oregon…and I imagine that it will be so.  But, there is something to be said for the changing of the seasons, and the changes in mood, and food, and traditions that it brings.  For now, I’ll be content to enjoy each day at it is given to me, and to store this sunshine in my soul!

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An interesting observation made in the 10 months our family has now lived in Kenya is that Kenyans generally stick to a diet consisting of a few favorite foods.

One of these foods is Ugali.  Pronounced oo-ga-ly.

Tito, the Centre security guard, says he can’t live without Ugali.  I think that is the sentiment expressed by many Kenyans.  Tito is VERY proud that his little almost one year old boy is now eating Ugali…and regularly tells me how content and happy Kelly is after eating it.  He can go hours without needing his momma or a nap apparently.   If you ever come to Kenya, or meet a  Kenyan or East African, I think it would be incredibly wise to praise their ugali if they have made it for you….or ask them about ugali in general.  You’ll make their day and their face will glow with pride.

So what is Ugali?

According to wikipedia:  

Ugali is an East African dish (also sometimes called sima, sembe, or posho) of maize flour (cornmeal) cooked with water to a porridge– or dough-like consistency. It is the most common staple starch of much of Eastern and Southern Africa. When ugali is made from another starch, it is usually given a specific regional name.

This is generally what it looks like:

Ugali and sukuma wiki

Ugali is relatively inexpensive and is thus easily accessible to the poor who usually combine it with a vegetable stew (e.g. sukuma wiki in Kenya) or meat stews and makes a filling meal. Ugali is easy to make and the flour can last for considerable time in average conditions. Maize from which the flour is obtained is hardy and will grow reliably in dry seasons. For these reasons, ugali is an important part of the diet of millions of people of Sub Saharan Africa.

Here is a link from the web on cooking Ugali, it’s really simple:

You will need a sufuria (a big metal pot)  and an ugali stick (like a canoe paddle actually) .  The one I have for my house is about 18 inches long,  with a paddle about 2 inches in diameter, and 4 inches long. 

The traditional method of eating ugali (and the most common in the rural areas) is to roll a lump into a ball, and then dip it into a sauce or stew of vegetables and/or meat. Making a depression with the thumb allows the ugali to be used to scoop, and to wrap around pieces of meat to pick them up in the same way that flat bread is used in other cultures.

Most Americans would probably say that Ugali has no taste, or at best is bland.  But, I think it’s kind of like tofu, if you know how to cook it…and what to pair with it, it can be quite tasty.  At least the kids enjoy scooping some out of the sufuria with their hands, and then patting and making it into an eating scoop.  What other excuse does a kid need in order to be able to “play” with food?

I’m trying to think of an American food past-time that might compare to Ugali…something most can’t go a day without.  I’m going to have to say coffee, or eggs, or cereal?  What do you think?

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Yesterday, since I was already in Nairobi for another errand, I decided to go ahead with my drop-in ultrasound that my OB/GYN had written orders for a few weeks ago.

Looks like baby girl May is growing along just fine, with no worries to report.  She is right on track for 28 weeks, 5 days in all of her growth, with average weight predicted…..which is great news when you have gestational diabetes & have already had one baby born with shoulder dystocia.

Here are my two favorite pics.  Unfortunately, the profile picture of her face isn’t the best because the umbilical cord kept waving back and forth in front of her face during the scan.

The large blob on the left is the profile of her skull, with the eye socket, mouth and a hand reaching up towards the mouth...


And then this picture is of her hands:

One hand is open (left), the one on the right is fisted

 It was great to see blood flow, the heart functioning and everything else as it should be.  I’ll have one more of these types of scans in another 4 weeks for purposes of growth monitoring with my diabetes, which means that this baby will have had more ultrasounds than all of my other pregnancies combined!

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Well, I tried to chat up my friend, Erika Lee, on facebook since it is about 4:30pm in Portland, Oregon and 3:30 am here in Thika, Kenya….but she must have more pressing matters on her hands like kid pick up from the bus stop, and homework, and diabetes snack time etc. etc.!  So, you get a rambling blog from me instead.

I feel like things have been a whirl wind trapped inside a time warp here.  What I mean by that is that we get all excited about the progress we are making, and then crazy things happen like we can’t take on abandoned babies because the baby cots we ordered to have made are still not made and seem to look more like a little kids daybed than  a crib.  I guess we really shouldn’t take for granted that everyone has the “same” idea in mind when talking about cribs, or even when looking at pictures of cribs.  One thing is for certain, those babies are going to have a lot of room to spread out in!  No cramped beds at this Centre!  Another thing that is certain here bout these parts of Kenya is…..not matter what you order, you’re gonna get what your gonna get, so you might as well just ask for whatever the server, or store, or craftsman feels like making.  Less trouble all around that way.

I have hit the 28 week mark in my pregnancy and am starting to remember some of the uncomfortableness that comes with being *bigger* than my normal in the heat.  I have thrown caution to the wind, and now wear my sleeveless tops, I think the Kenyans around us have figured out that I’m not out to advertise my body  and am just an overheated very pregnant married lady.   I am so curious to find out if this new baby will acquire the Kenyan sense of climate control and will just think that Portland, Oregon is incredibly cold all of the time.  Even now, I looked in on both kids and there they are, in this humid house in the high 70’s perhaps low 80’s,  sleeping peacefully in long sleeved tops and pants, with socks, like it is mid winter in the States.  You know, even in mid 80 summer weather here, little kids come to the Centre in their knit sweater ski-type hats and that’s just how it rolls here.  Just seeing  that makes me think I might have to go jump on Ian’s all cold shower bandwagon.   I’m to drop into the hospital in Nairobi for another ultrasound any time here, so hopefully we’ll get another look at this little miss who is heating up my overstuffed body…and due to make her appearance in just short of 3 months now!

Well, since 3 am blogs are just wrong, and now it is 3:30 am, I’m gonna turn off this rambling machine and head back to bed.  Please note:  I really CAN NOT be held responsible for any senseless blathering that occurs at this time in the night/morning.

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It was one sad fact of being pregnant with gestational diabetes….not being able to have eggnog….but one good fact about being in Kenya….because it wasn’t available!!

Until now.

My brother must have heard my wish for an eggnog product because his Christmas package just arrived here in Kenya (it was sent off 12/12/09 btw)….and included were a few eggnog products for me.


For my brother:

Who has a bathroom scrub named after them? Seriously.



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We had a retired school teacher come to visit Karibu Centre from Portland, Oregon. 

This was Connie’s 5th trip to Kenya.  She’s becoming quite the pro….pretty able to handle the smells, and sights, and people.  But she still needs that Starbucks coffee fix in the morning!  Some things take awhile to take out of the American. 

Connie planned some wonderful professional growth activities for the Centre teachers and also did  a few sessions with the pregnant girls/new moms introducing the ideas of business and self-sustaining enterprises.  The teachers and girls all seemed to throughly enjoy their time with Connie.  It is interesting to note that several staff and many of the pregnant girls/new moms were struck by Connie’s testimony.  I wasn’t around to hear the testimony itself, but it was eye-opening to the girls and staff to hear that “white people/wazungu” have struggles in their lives as well.  From what so many of them see, they have this picture painted in their minds of Americans/white people having perfect lives, with perfect house, and perfect kids.  Goodness sakes, they even told me they were shocked to hear that I vomited… any ordinary Kenyan.  My how I wish I were immune to it as they imagine! 

Anne working on one of Connie's craft projects...a fabric doll representing her son Alex



Besides her work with the Centre staff and residents, we all got a chance to enjoy time talking to a fellow Portlander and the kids got to have some “gramma” like time. 


Connie was “lucky” enough for the kids to pick out a Skippy Jon Jones book.  She had never read this author before.  If you’ve ever read Skippy Jon, it takes a little getting used to!  We love him, I think the language and style gave Connie a headache.   I remember Grandpa having a bit of a difficult time getting the lingo of Skippy right too.  

All in all, we were so thankful for Connie’s trip to Karibu Centre and all she got accomplished in her week here.  We can’t wait to have her back again this spring!

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I sent Lucy to the bathroom after lunch to wash her hands and face.

She came out saying, “Mom, is there blood on my face?”

Before looking at her, I thought to myself, oh, she must see the residue of the strawberries she ate for lunch.


Her upper lip was bleeding, and despite a great deal of questioning, she didn’t know how.  Yeah, I’ve heard that before!

Using some simple deduction including her location and the amount of time she was gone I finally asked, “Did you try to shave like daddy?

A meek, “Yes” followed.

She must have gotten it just in the right spot, cause it really wouldn’t stop bleeding and this was the result:

I've never band aided a lip before, but it worked ok.

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