Saturday, February 20, 2016

#10 Nigeria: Lekki Beach

Most Friday evenings, a group goes down to the beach and runs or walks a 5k. We went on our first Friday here, and again last night, but we rode the bus the whole way and walked around on the beach while we waited for everyone else. The compound is probably only about a mile from the Atlantic Ocean, and we live on a peninsula. The beach itself was very dirty with trash and small, heartbreaking shacks everywhere (not sure if people live in them or use them to sell things out of). People don't swim in the water - partly because of the strong tide, partly because it's dirty (three times in the past 6 months, including last night, the group has actually seen dead bodies washed up on the beach!!!!! ahh!), and partly because apparently Nigerians don't know how to swim. But Sophia still had an awesome time chasing sand crabs, and yesterday she had me bring trash bags so she could clean up the beach (which is a nice idea in theory, but I really shouldn't have let her do it - for the germ factor. Grace was really into it, too...picking up cigarette butts and other super nasty things because she wants to be just like her big sis).

Near where we "make camp", so to speak, there's a boat washed up on the beach. It's pretty awesome. Apparently it showed up there this past September and it has been rusted and striped for parts since then. The likely story is that it was being used for something illegal so once the authorities were onto them, they ditched the boat (apparently this is not completely uncommon). So, since Sophia likes to go to the beach and look for pirate ships, this boat - in a way - could fit the description. Unfortunately, there are real pirates in this area, and there's nothing lighthearted about it. In fact, a neighbor told us that just a few weeks ago, one of the Chevron oil rigs here noticed an unidentified boat on their radar, so they lost a day of production by sealing up their oil wells and....a lot of other technical things I probably wouldn't tell correctly. Basically, it costs the company money to not produce any oil for a day, but it's worth it to be safe in case that boat turned out to be pirates.
So far, this is my favorite picture to say: "hey! We live in Nigeria!"

 Sophia is trying to make a hole for the crabs to go into...

Sun setting over the Atlantic Ocean. No matter where you are in the world, there's something really pretty and peaceful about a sunset at the beach. 

 More crab searching

Suya - a Nigerian classic. In this case, it was cooked on a beach and served on a newspaper. Classy. It is super spicy, reminded me of softer beef jerky, and was totally mystery meat (we suspect goat...). 

Suya was followed by a bonfire and smores right on the beach. Sophia especially loved it!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

#9 Nigeria: Life in Pictures (Month1)

In some ways, it's crazy that it's already been a month because I still feel like we're trying to get our routine and figure things out. But on the other hand, learning to settle in here is so all-consuming that it feels like we've been here forever. Here are some pictures from throughout the month...
Russ got a huge, and I mean HUGE and yummy cake from his boss to welcome him on his first day. 

We went to the clinic to meet the doctor and came home with all this! It's vitamins, tylenol, cough medicine, antihistamines, and other stuff to help with the runny noses and coughs we went in with. :) Apparently most medicines here are single purpose (whereas in the states they'll combine to treat multiple symptoms).

Sophia took some pictures, and this one is really cute! It shows Grace with the security objects she had when we first got here: her two binkies! Now she's back to just using them at night. She also may have been teething. This late-teeth-bloomer has gotten FIVE teeth in the month we've been here, putting her total at 12 (which is still several months behind what she should have, I think).

Sophia and her milk-mustache selfie!

The fat stack of 1,000 bills we had set aside for church before realizing we could still pay tithing online. Whew. We were glad we didn't have to fit all that into tithing envelopes :)

This is the first time Sophia has written this much. I was so proud of her!

Hot. Humid. Hazy. Yep. That's the weather every day.

I love it when Sophia helps Grace :)

A few weekends ago, there was a Children's Dance on camp. They had a fancy dinner and a dance. It was cute to see Grace at the fancy table with her bib and sippy cup :)

Daddy Daughter song! 

It was VERY hot, but we still had fun dancing the night away!

Sophia was so happy in all these pictures, I couldn't choose which ones to post!

Grace had fun, too!

I went shopping and out to lunch with a few ladies and tried suya again. This one wasn't as spicy, so it was much better. :) I'd describe this one sort of like schnitzel, whereas the first one I had was more like extremely spicy beef jerky

I don't know what prompted this expression, but Grace has developed a fabulous stink face. So basically, now that her cheeks aren't so big that she looks like grumpy cat all the time, she still found a way to be a grumpy cat when she's mad at us!

Grace posing before the dance with a hat Sophia brought home from a birthday party

Sophia at the park!

I wanted to take a picture of Sophia and her new friend swinging, but I also wanted to show the nannies at the park. This was a rare instance when our stewardess was not pushing Grace in the swing. Grace loves those swings!

Grace is slowly starting to get more used to nursery - which is sunbeams here because they have an hour long lesson followed by joining the older kids for singing and sharing time. Sitting for that long is a lot of ask of 18 month - 3 year olds, especially when they have those toys in the back of the room there that never get used! Both at church and on the camp, all the other kids her age are boys. 

This sweet ride belongs to another boy in camp. Grace sure looks like tough stuff riding it with that binky! She actually really liked pressing the foot pedal, but never figured out steering, so she was a dangerous driver!

Sophia tested it out, too! She was a much safer driver, as you might imagine...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

#8 Nigeria: Preschool for Sophia and One-on-One time for Grace

Standing by the bus on her first day. They normally have uniforms, but it was color week last week

She started on Tuesday and when I went on Friday to pick up my parent ID badge, she was already running off. She knew just where to go.

Standing by her classroom

it's so hot and humid here, the lens fogs up on the first picture (you can also see that in the first picture of Sophia and I at school) :)

Waving goodbye!

For the first week or so we were here, we were unsure whether or not Sophia would be able to attend preschool because we are on tourist visas and Russ is on a Temporary Work Visa. Luckily, she is! I was originally worried about it because it's 5 days a week, all day, and she's never done anything close to that. But it's been just over a week, and, knock on wood, she LOVES it. She is so happy to go in the morning, and she talks about her day the whole way home from the bus in the afternoon - and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Grace and I walk her to the bus at 8:20 each morning, wave goodbye as the bus pulls out, and I pick her up from the bus stop at about 3:15. The hardest part for me so far has been packing a lunch each day. At home, we normally eat leftovers or macaroni or something else that requires a microwave. :) School itself is actually from 9:30 to 2:30, so the bus ride can be pretty long.

I am glad Sophia is having such a good time, and I'm also pretty fond of the two hours of quiet I have each day when she's gone and Grace is napping. :) It's also nice to have one-on-one time with Grace. So far, we gone for walks, on playdates, play with her toys, to toddler soccer (she's the youngest one there so half the time she's wandering around aimlessly, but it's seriously hilarious to see how much fun she's having). The "little pal" stage from about 1-2 is so much fun!

One morning after dropping Sophia off at the bus, Grace wanted out of the stroller and we spent 45 minutes walking home (it's normally about a 5 minute walk). She had fun picking flowers, chasing after lizards, saying "hi" to people, jumping in puddles (made from drivers washing the cars - it's only rained one morning since we've been here), and exploring the neighborhood. She would've stayed at the drinking fountain forever. Do all kids have an "I love water" stage? Both of mine have.

Debuting Grace's first real ponytail. :) It was so cute. It curls itself into a perfect little bun.

Baby soccer, compete with soccer shorts and pigtails :D :D :D

And here's a video - because I couldn't resist. Running to retrieve and stack these cones is her favorite part of soccer practice.

#7 Nigeria: Our House

 The front door and entry

They installed the wooden baby gates for us - we're so grateful for them

We will go upstairs first. Doors from left to right: our room, linen closet, girls' bathroom, laundry room, Grace's room and Sophia's room

Sophia's room. There's also a wall of built-in drawers and closets

Grace's room - we are borrowing a mosquito net for her because she's gotten so many bug bites while sleeping :(

Kid bathroom

 Master bedroom

Master bathroom

Back downstairs...
Kitchen - we have two refrigerators

Dining room, a happy Grace, and the one Valentine decoration I brought

Living room

 Back yard
 View of the house from the back yard

Garage - typically people have an easy chair, side table, and fan in there for the driver to hang out. Hopefully we will be able to get something like that for ours

Everyone is identified by their house number here, but for memory sake, here is the name of our street (not gonna lie - it's not the best name in the neighborhood :D)

 Behind our back yard is this small alley connecting the back yards of 6 houses. The wall on the left is to our back yard. The wall on the right is the outer wall of the compound.

Grace must have noticed our stewardess sweeping, and now she loves sweeping, too! 

Almost every suitcase had at least 30 diapers shoved into the front pockets. (This is half of the diaper mountain we unpacked)

All 4 drawers of this dresser are diapers and wipes :) They'll last us about 4 months.

Before the suitcases were even unpacked, we had curtains up and wall decals in the girls' rooms and family pictures sticky tacked to the walls downstairs. :) Nothing makes me feel at home faster than curtains and pictures! (Picture by Sophia)