Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Laird and Dylan have been going to French preschool everyday since September.  They love going to school and adore their teachers.  It's hard to believe that their French is far stronger than their English right now.  Mom and a few friends are the only source of English here in Senegal.  In fact, Laird helps translate when Mom needs a helping hand speaking French!

Here is a video from their Christmas Party.  It was a beautiful and festive evening full of song, dance, food, a guest comedian performance, and even a visit from Santa.

Laird and Dylan,
Mom and Dad burst into tears while you were performing.  (Note the jiggly camera footage.)  We are so proud of you, and the wonderful little men you are becoming.  Everyday is such a gift.  Dylan, you love to check in with how we are all feeling.  Dylan will say, 'Mom, are you happy?  Dad are you happy?  Laird, are you happy?"  My sweet son, we are more than happy.  We are over the moon.  Everyday I wonder if my heart will burst because it is so full of love.  Merry 2nd Christmas Laird and Dylan.  We love you so much.  Love, Mom and Dad

Saturday, December 1, 2012


It's been a wonderful week...
Laird and Dylan have a new cousin!
Liam and Max are big brothers to 

Please Welcome:

Evelyn Reese Nudd
(nickname Evie, pronounced like 'Eh-vie')
Born at 7:20am on Thursday November 29th, 2012
8lbs 12oz
21" tall

She's already looking like Gillespie and Nudd!

We can't wait to meet you sweet baby girl, and shower you with lots of cuddles and kisses.  
Auntie Kelly already has her knitting needles knitting away.  
The Gillespie Girls finally have some 'pink'!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Breaking our Own Rules, Part I

Dad and the boys
Once or twice a month on Saturday night, we have been taking the boys to the local Pizzeria.  It's a special treat for them because the kitchen does not open until 7 pm, just 1/2 an hour shy of the boys' bedtime.  We arrive as the sun is setting, order a special 'cocktail' for the boys, have a toast, do some coloring, play with pizza dough, and also play on the world's most unsafe playground.

Laird and Dylan know that these evenings are a special treat, and are giddy with excitement and glee.  They love to see the moon and the stars and understand they are up way past their bedtime.

'Mama, Laird loves loves loves loves to go to Sao Brazil', Laird says every time we arrive at the pizzeria.

Every now and then, it's good to break your own rules.

Dylan loves making artwork!

Laird and his 'funny cocktail face'!

The Merry Go Round.

The 'kids' on a double swing.

Happy Laird.

Watching the chef make the pizza.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

15 Seconds

And this is what happens when I step away from the Painting Table to take muffins out of the oven.  One would think I should know better by now...  At least it was washable paint.

(Dylan on left, Laird on the right)

Or better yet, maybe they somehow found out about 'Halloween' and are reacting to not having celebrated this holiday yet!

(Dylan on left, Laird on right)
And here is another gem from this weekend, just a few hours before Dylan vomited repeatedly in the Club Med pool.  Note to self: How do you clear out a packed pool to have some space to yourself?  Bring Dylan.

(Dylan on left again)
And apparently, we have been doing a lot of see-sawing lately.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Summer Highlights...

 There were so many pics to choose from; it was hard to pick our favorites.

And despite Richard being ill for over a month with the Entamoeba Histolytica, we still seemed to have a great couple of weeks.  (For that blog entry, please click here.)






No raincoats?  No problem!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Celebrating Guinea's Independence Day

It was a  tough 2 days without any electricity and sweltering temps.
In the midst of a difficult afternoon, we were serenaded with beautiful song dance.  Thank you.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Oldies but Goodies

When we were robbed, we lost almost all photos and video footage from Laird and Dylan's birth until they were 6 months old.  The laptop, camera, and video camera were all stolen, and because I did not yet have an external hard drive, my system of 'backing up' was to never delete anything.  I couldn't imagine I would lose all 3 devices at the same time!

Luckily, friends and family have shared their photos with us, as well as what we had posted on the blog  and facebook. (Thank goodness for cyberspace!)

We replaced our video camera last year and found some long lost footage saved on the hard drive last week.

Oldies but goodies, for sure.

Laird 1 1/2 years old dancing away in Maine, July 2011.  Laird has always loved to dance!

Just before the boys 1 1/2 year old birthday celebration...stumbling around with their special hats!

Laird and Dylan rocking out in their playroom, September 2011.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Picnic - Dream of the Sun (with special guest Vusi Mahlasela)

After 2 years in the making (and 4 children later),
 the Valdmanis' brothers long awaited CD has finally been released. 

World renown South African singer, Vusi Mahlasela, otherwise known as 'The Voice',
has guest appeared on 'Come my Way', Track 2.  Check it out!

Available on itunes and their new website.  Click here for more information.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dreaming of Snow

3 Raglan Sleeve Rollneck Sweaters for my Valdmanis boys

We are at the tail end of the hot season in Dakar; the rain is slowly subsiding and the temps continue to soar.  We've been quite lucky this summer with power outages; only a few nights we have completely been without power.  However, we are now experiencing daily outages averaging 6 hours.

The above 100 degree temps have not stopped my knitting frenzy.

In July, just before Richard fell seriously ill, I stopped by a lovely knitting shop in Scarborough Maine and found a worsted weight wool blend yarn that is washable and dryable.  This yarn was screaming to be made into the classic raglan sleeve roll neck sweater that I have made countless times.

I casted on at Higgins Beach in July, and casted off the 3rd and final sweater at Virage Beach here in Senegal.


I can't wait to see my 3 men sporting these sweaters in cold and snowy weather.

More info about this sweater and pattern can be found on Ravelry.

Monday, September 10, 2012

First day of Preschool

When the boys were 1 ½ years old, they went to a preschool once a week for a short time.  That only lasted temporarily, as the boys nap schedule made for a rough day at school for everyone involved.

Needless to say, today was the big day.  The boys are enrolled full time in the mornings at a lovely French school that is within walking distance from home.  In recent weeks, Mom and Dad have been ‘prepping’ Laird and Dylan about school and what to expect.  They were excited about reading books, making art, playing with new toys, recess, and making new friends.  They also knew that Mom and Dad would walk with them to school but then we would have to leave and pick them up at lunch.

At 5 am, Mom woke and showered, excited and needing some alone time before the boys woke up.  Her babies are growing up way too fast.

Laird with his favorite breakfast, French toast and mangos.

Dylan, too excited to eat before school.

Laird, very sad, telling Faye that his stuffed sheep doesn't go to school.

Mom and Dad walked the boys to school, met the teacher, Ms. Florence, and left the school all within a short amount of time.  Many students were crying, yet Laird and Dylan were too excited about the outdoor playground to even notice Mom and Dad leaving.

The walk to school.

Mom and Laird.

Dylan saying to the sheep, 'Hey sheep, D going to school today!', as we passed the neighborhood sheep.

‘Wow’, said Mom, ‘that wasn’t too bad. Not at all what I had expected’.

And then, after walking a block away from the school, we heard it.

‘Daaaaaaaaaadddddaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’ cried Dylan echoing throughout the neighborhood.

And then the high pitched shrill.  ‘Daaaaaaaaaadddddddaaaaaaaaaa.’

And then two identical voices screaming in unison.

‘Should we go back?’ asked Dad.

‘No,' replied teacher mom, giving herself the same pep talk she had given Kindergarten parents at school a hundred times.  ‘They will cry for a short amount of time and then they will be fine.  If we go back, it will do more harm than good.  If they truly can’t calm down, the school will call us’.  I had to repeat this over and over in my head.

Mom and Dad drove downtown where we purchased their schools supplies and a special ice cream treat for the boys, both constantly checking our phones to see if there were any missed calls.

At pickup, the boys happily told us about their day, while Mom dusted off the sand from Dylan as he apparently was making snow angels in the school yard during recess.

‘They were very happy and quite independent’ the Director told us.  ‘Lovely boys’.

Mom and Dad were also quite happy that neither of the boys had any potty accidents at school, even with all the excitement happening!

The boys had a big lunch and enjoyed a special ice cream treat in celebration of the big day. 

As Laird got in his bed to take a nap he said, ‘Momma, Laird loves Florence.  Yes, Laird loves loves loves Florence.’

And Dylan said, ‘Yeah, Dylan likes school too.’

My babies are growing up way too fast.

Since the boys are in the same class,
they will have to wear these name tags
everyday to school.  Let's hope they don't
figure out how to swap them!

First day of school teacher gift for Ms. Florence:
Hand sanitizer, cough drops, vitamin C drink, tissues, hand cream, and cookies!

Before school photo.  Priceless.

Dylan's monkey face.