Saturday, December 21, 2013

What we've been up to

Here's some of what Molly's been up to:

Pulling ornaments off of the tree.

Getting "elfed."

Standing a lot. She takes some steps here and there but is still mostly crawling.

Getting teeth, she now has 6! 

AND, going to LIU's faculty Christmas party. Big brother didn't get to go.

Here is some of what Graham's been up to:

Trying to be like Daddy in every way.

Getting "elfed" with his good buddies John Mark and Riley.

Cutting. Graham has developed some interest in arts and crafts lately.

Drinking smoothies. This seems to be the only way he'll eat fruit these days so he has one big smoothie a day and loves it.

Going to the pool. December does not mean winter here in Uganda, it means the hot, dry season. So we've been having fun at the pool (with a soda for a treat).

Monday, December 16, 2013

Butter Cookies

My mom and I made these cookies together every year as I was growing up, and to me they are the very best Christmas cookies. I was pretty excited that Graham is finally old enough to enjoy this kind of activity with me. We love baking together! Whenever it's time to pour in an ingredient he says, "that's Graham's job." Last Tuesday we made the dough and let it sit in the fridge overnight. On Wednesday we rolled it out, cut out the cookies, applied sprinkles, and baked them. Graham had fun but lost interest about halfway though. Molly now likes to flip out as soon as I decide I'd like to cook something, so I would not have been able to finish without sweet Betty helping me with her! I think that our hard work was worth it because when I served these cookies during our team devotional last week, they were all eaten!

Here's the recipe (you're welcome!):

Butter Cookies

1 c. butter (they are butter cookies, after all)
1 c. sugar
1 egg
2 T. cream or milk
1 T. grated orange zest (I always omit this)
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
3 c. flour
Sprinkles or icing for decorating

Cream butter and sugar. Blend in egg, cream, zest, baking powder, salt, and vanilla. Gradually add flour until combined. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Roll out 1/3 at a time about 1/4-1/8 thickness*. Bake at 400 for 5-7 minutes. 

*If you roll the dough too thin the cookies will be crisp and not soft. They will also bake faster.

Hiking Day Trip

This past weekend we had something we haven't had in quite a while: a weekend with no plans. It felt great, and we were ready to get out and do something fun as a family. Chad had heard about these great hiking trails in Mount Elgon National Park. This is a huge park, more than 1200 square km. I actually hiked and camped there when I did my internship in 2004, but on the Kenyan side. Kenya and Uganda share this park.

So we got directions, packed lunches, and headed out around 9:00. Hiking in this park was different than any other hiking we've done here because no one lives there (obviously). So you aren't followed by a herd of Ugandan children and you aren't passing dozens of huts and cows and goats and staring faces. The only person we ever saw was our hiking guide. 

We chose the shortest hike, which was 3 km. I strapped Molly on my back and Chad carried our bag and we started off. The trail wound steeply uphill and was very overgrown. I started to get really tired right away, and I thought I was in pretty good shape! Chad had to start carrying Graham on his shoulders. Some sections were so steep that they had added little handmade ladders to the trail. And some parts were very wet and boggy from water that trickled down the mountain. 

We stopped in front of a cave for lunch. Chad and Graham went in and were greeted by some pretty large bats. As we continued on we heard, but never saw, blue monkeys. Our guide told us that the monkeys have been poached so heavily in this part of the forest that now you rarely see them. We also heard and saw many different kinds of birds. I cannot even describe to you the various plants and flowers we saw. So unusual! I think Dr. Seuss must have gotten some of his ideas in Uganda.

We reached the rocky summit, where we stopped for about 20 minutes. We were all quite tired. Going downhill on the last half of the hike we were better able to look around and enjoy the things we were seeing. Molly slept in her carrier. By the time we made it back to the car, we were all 4 happy but exhausted. We love hiking together as a family and Mt. Elgon Park did not disappoint. We will definitely be coming back!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Molly's 1st Birthday Party

Here's what the invitations looked like for Molly's party:

I didn't send them out because we don't really have an address here, and everyone knows where we live anyways. In the "Mbale community" we do all of our communicating about things like this online. But I wanted to have an invitation from her party as a keepsake, so I bought these on Etsy. I printed out a bunch and handed them out at the party.

For the party theme I copied my friend Tara and did a "cupcake bar." My mom even sent over some special things for it from the states. It was a popular idea, especially with the kids! We had our party outside, because we have the playground and trampoline for all the kids to play on. Molly liked her cupcake! Partway through the party it started to rain so we came inside. So many of our friends came and made it a special celebration. 

Happy Birthday Baby Molly!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Changing Family

Ok I am getting sentimental here! 

Here we are at Graham's first birthday party:

And at Graham's second birthday party:

I was early pregnant with Molly at the time. And here we are at Graham third birthday party:

Molly was 4 months old. A lot's changed in three years!

Graham's 3rd Birthday Party

Yes, Graham has been 3 for 7 months now, and yes, I am just now looking at and enjoying the pics from his party. My mother in law took a ton of pictures that day. Our computer was somewhere over the Atlantic ocean in our container so I couldn't upload them at the time, and in the craziness that followed I forgot. He party was only a few days before we left to go to SPLICE missionary training in Colorado. After that we were traveling all over visiting family and friends before we moved to Uganda. 

Planning a party in the midst of this chaos was daunting, but I went the store-bought route and didn't make a thing myself. The banner and cupcake toppers I bought on Etsy and the cupcakes were from Albertsons (oh how I miss Albertsons!). Just like his 2nd birthday we had it at our church. It's a really great deal because for a small fee you also get to have this woman named Brandie who tells you when to do what, where to put this or that, and cleans everything up afterward. 

Graham and his friends had so much fun playing on the playscape this year! And Graham definitely knew what was up when it came to blowing out the candle, eating the cupcake, and opening the presents. What a big boy! I'm so glad that we took a break in the chaos of the moment to celebrate his birthday with all of our family and friends. Looking at the pictures was hard, because I miss all of these people so much, but also fun.

Happy Birthday Graham!