Monday, April 25, 2011

Bumps, Bruises, and Downward Facing Dog

Last week Laird and Dylan both got their first major 'boo-boo's'.

Laird's injury happened when I was at work. In fact, it happened 5 minutes before my 1st grade class arrived. If you have a child that has been in the care of someone else, whether it's daycare, a baby-sitter, or a relative, then I'm sure you have experienced the 'come home fast' phone call.

Astou calmly said, 'Something has happened...'... and then my stomach dropped.

Laird was fine, but had a giant goose-egg the size of a golf ball on his forehead. The day after, the injury looked a lot worse, as in between his eyes turned blue-green from the bruising. Apparently Laird and Dylan were having a 'tug of war' over their favorite toy. Clearly Dylan won the struggle, and the favorite toy has gone into hiding.

Laird and his goose-egg.

Then, a few days later in Somone, little Dylan, fell and got a large rug burn on the side of his face. To make him feel better, all the boys wore band-aids on their faces that day.

Dylan and his rug burn.
(And his amazing talent of drinking from a sippy cup using no hands.)

On a lighter note, Laird has discovered the yoga position, downward facing dog. He loves to do it, and will giggle with pure joy when viewing the world upside down.

Upside down is the way to go!

Easter in Somone

A few pics from our weekend trip to Somone.

Our water lovers.

Dylan in heaven.

Mom and Dylan

Laird hard at work.

Dad and the boys.

Laird the Sandman.

Mom and Lairdy-pants.

Dylan during an afternoon nap.

Dylan and Dad.

No matter how many times I see goats on top of buses, I still cannot help myself from staring.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


When Dylan said the word "Gbagbo" (pronounced bag-bo) in December, I was impressed that he was taking such a keen interest in current events in West Africa. Months later, the name Gbagbo was on the lips of millions around the world after he made the front pages as the man who stole Ivory Coast's election and restarted its civil war.

Fierce fighting in the main city of Abidjan eventually led to Gbagbo getting Gbagged in his Gbunker by his rival's troops this week. I'm now waiting for Dylan to figure out how to say "Ouattara".

Here's a story from a friend and colleague Tim Cocks who had to cover this very difficult story from inside the city.

Our Pets

Here is one of the many new friends we have living in our garden. We also have four kittens and a cat, that have temporarily found shelter underneath my art table.

Friday, April 8, 2011


When you live in a third world country that is stricken with poverty, it is often difficult to stay positive about how some locals choose to ‘get by’.

And when I say ‘poverty’, I am referring to mass poverty that you would never see in the United States. The poverty I am referring to is not that of beggars or homeless….or of pickpocketers that just want 'more'. I am talking about desperation. I am referring to babies crying all not long because a family cannot provide milk, families that squat in bushes as they cannot even afford the corrugated metal as a roof, swollen bellies in children that go hungry day after day, hundreds of people gathered together downtown that are handicapped with polio and other diseases as their family couldn’t afford to vaccinate, and garbage cans that are sifted through night after night hopeful of finding just a bit of rice or food that was thrown away. Day after day, we are asked for money or are approached by someone begging for a job. It is rampant and it is everywhere.

The unemployment rate here is astronomical. There are no jobs. One is lucky to have a job of a housekeeper, nanny, or a guard. Our housekeeper speaks five languages fluently, is one of the hardest workers I have ever seen, and went years without work while desperately trying to support a family of five.

A few weeks ago, our house was robbed. I am still trying my best to recover from an intruder watching me for hours, entering a room where I slept, and being just a few feet away from my children. I am still lying awake at night watching our balcony, doors getting checked, double checked, and triple checked, and often questioning if Richard or myself had remembered to set the alarms. Friends that this has happened to assure me that this will take time to recover from, and that soon, I will be able to relax.

Yesterday, I was driving in the car with Astou and the boys. By mistake, she left her keys on top of the car and of course, once we got on the Corniche (a four lane high speed road) we heard the keys fly off the roof onto the side of the road. I quickly pulled over, and Astou got out and began to look for the keys.

I became nervous that a car would hit us, as there is no breakdown lane on this road. I rolled down the windows, got the safety-warning triangle, and got out of the car to place the triangle 15 feet behind the car.

While doing this, two men on a moped stopped and asked if we needed help. I quickly walked back to the car as Astou told them the car was fine. The man reached in my car, stole my phone, and took off.

Luckily, my wallet was in the backseat at the bottom of a diaper bag. And more importantly, the man did not drive away in our car with the boys in the back as I had mistakenly left the car running.

It is hard to not let these incidences break you. Still recovering from the break in, I was not prepared for another scare like this.

But on a positive note, I have again learned something about living here. Mopeds, are apparently, known for their theft. Purses are snagged easily by men on mopeds that simple grab them while they are scooting by. Purses are grabbed when left on the passenger seat of the car, and motorists that have broken down on the side of the road are an easy target.

Like I said, it’s hard to stay positive when these events keep repeatedly happening. But what gets me through, is believing that the robbers have been able to feed their starving families from selling the goods they have stolen from me. I have to believe that maybe, just maybe, these robbers can afford medicine for their children, or even purchase a bag of rice to feed their families for the month.

People are desperate here. Desperation is fueling these crimes. They don’t care about getting caught…it doesn’t matter. These crimes are what helps them survive.

I have to believe these things, or otherwise, my negative attitude and fear will take over.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The First Steps

Here is the Big Man taking his first steps. He's not officially walking, but certainly enjoying trying it out! Dylan doesn't really see the point in walking, as he can crawl much faster than any grown up that is walking next to him!

Taking some deep breaths, getting PSYCHED UP!

Practicing balance first (very wise).

First step!

3 steps!


Dylan is Laird's number one fan.