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Showing posts from June, 2013

Uganda 2.0

Wow!  I left only one week ago and it seems like it has been a year (for so many reasons)!!!

First of all, I am missing Andy and the kids so badly!  Internet hasn't been great, so I haven't talked to them but once and emails have been sporadic.  Today has been my first real homesick day and it isn't very much fun to be homesick.

Secondly, I have met so many amazing people and have made some really great friends!  I mentioned in my first Uganda post about many of the people I've gotten to know and the wonderful things they are doing around the world.  It is humbling and awe inspiring!  I'm the oldest one here in the program and they are all making such big differences in so many different countries!  Wow!  Two girls who are my neighbors in the dorm have been so great to me (even though they were born while I was at prom) and I've had a blast laughing with them until way past midnight every night.  (All of the girls in the dorm have been wonderful!)  They are f…


I made it!  The trip was easy and getting to the University was fine.  It is so nice to be back in East Africa and it made me realize how much I truly love and miss Rwanda.  Our plane stopped there first and we couldn't get out and my heart was being tugged out towards the tarmac.  Next summer. . . . !

Today was our first official day (yesterday was just jet lag recovery).  I've met some really neat people and I'm excited about this new community I am now a part of.  So many people doing so many amazing things in Africa. . .I feel very out of my league.  There are two girls from Georgia living in Kenya and another girl heading to Bolivia and another heading to Saudi.  There is a guy living in a refugee camp (as a worker) in South Sudan and another living in Liberia and others from Uganda. . . they have unbelievable stories.  Some are Americans, some are Africans, some were refugees themselves. . . a few are Rwandan and they told me that I could be a Rwandan just because I…

Heading to Uganda

I'm heading to Uganda tomorrow and I have no idea how I am feeling about that.  I'll be gone for nearly a month and the emotions swirling inside my head (heart) are a little bit confusing.

I have no attachment for Uganda and I would so much rather be going to Rwanda.  That's a weird feeling.  Plus, I'll be in class from 8-6 six days a week, so I won't be seeing much of the country and that, too, is weird for me.

I think the biggest thing is that I haven't really been anywhere alone in nearly 20 years.  Who am I without Andy?  Who am I without my kids (that's even the bigger question)?  I know, I sound pathetic, but it isn't a pathetic "who am I?" it's just that.  I've been a mom since 1998 and I haven't been alone since that time.  I'm heading to school to meet new people and I'm not sure who they are going to meet. . .who is this person sitting in Uganda alone with no kids?  I'm not sure if I can even describe it, but…

Father's Day Fun

Yesterday was a great Father's Day.  It was our day off and it was much needed!  Andy and Kevin rode their bikes to Silverton and we (the rest of the Braners and the rest of the Blackwells) were their support staff.  The scenery was beautiful (perfect day), but my pictures don't reflect that because my camera was set on some funky setting (again).  Bummer!  After the bike ride, we all went to our house and napped (I took a four hour nap) followed by four more hours of just chilling out and snacking.  It was perfect!

2 Peas In A Pod

Gabby and Rae may be having the best summer ever!  I have to give 99.99% of the credit to Lesley for making every day more amazing than the day before.  They have a huge calendar of all of the free events in Durango and when they take place, then they have a wish list of things they want to do. . . meanwhile, Lesley keeps discovering more and more wonderful things for them to do around camp.  It's unbelievable!!!

Yesterday she made this thing. . . I'm not sure what to call it: slip 'n' slide meets the blob meets the glitter fairy.  She took clear painter's plastic and taped it together and filled it with water and food coloring and glitter and the girls played on it all day long!  It was the hit of the summer (so far).  Last night I walked in to Gabby's room and the three of them have blankets up like a fort and they are reading some of the zillions of library books they checked out and they are giggling and having the time of their lives.

What a summer!  They…

Happy Birthday, Maggie!

Where has the time gone?  I cannot believe that twelve years ago today, I was sitting up here in this office with my very first KCO leadership team and we were talking about how we were going to pull off our very first opening day.  I knew I was in labor, but I had so much to do and I guess I just figured it would go away if I ignored it.  That didn't happen!

Maggie is so difficult for me to describe to people.  I have no idea why.  She is so special to me and I just love her so much--we've come a long way from severe colic and postpartum (bad combination for a mother daughter team to start with--to what we have now.  I love her so much.  She is so sweet and so compassionate and loving.  She is easy to be around and easy to get along with and she makes me laugh.  She thinks that I am so weird, but she tolerates (and even loves) me anyway.

She is confident in who she is and she doesn't need the world's approval.  She is a good friend.  She is beautiful and doesn't …

World Tour (Party)

Last night (here at Kivu), we went around the world.  This could have been one of our best parties in along time!  We got to start in Paris where we ate dinner and were serenaded by actual live music and it was really good.  They made the best Eiffel Tower out of this huge ladder and Christmas lights and they had a crepe stand.  It was super!  After dinner I left the party but the kids continued on to Moscow where they had a variety show and then to Cartegena where they learned to Salsa dance and they finished the party in Tokyo under the stars with a great all camp dance.  This party had fun and they had ever detail covered. It was amazing!

Dressing up was so much fun!  Maggie and I were so glad that we shopped so much in India last Fall because everyone had a super outfit from Jaipur (except for mine which was from Saudi).  I really loved last night and the outfits just made the super party perfect!
Have I mentioned that we are loving having the Blackwells here?  We are!  It has b…

Frankly, My Dear, I Don't Give A. . .

Most of you know the rest of this line from "Gone With The Wind."  It was the line that changed movies forever because Rhett Butler says a curse word on the big screen.  (Look how far we've come.) 

This is how I felt today.  Andy and I had a smallish (okay, not so smallish) "discussion" over a few things today (matters of the heart coming out with tears, snot, and not very nice words).  Then, several hours later, I came home to a perfectly manicured lawn.  I really could not care less what my lawn looks like.  I couldn't. . . ever.

I learned long ago that when Andy makes our lawn look nice, he is trying to tell me that he loves me.  That is where the Rhett Butler quote comes in.  So, I texted him that the lawn looked nice (trying to be nice about it because I knew his heart behind the jesture) and he texted back that he wanted it to be nice for me.  Que Rhett.

Love is so funny.  I am still in the figuring out process (after 20 years of knowing this man) an…

The Natives Are Having Fun

So, the kids have been having a blast at camp. . .there probably isn't much better than getting to raise your kids at summer camp (unless you get to also raise them for part of the year in another country and another culture, too).  The kids have been having a blast!

Hays is now a certified Rive Guide. . .the only problem is that he isn't old enough to legally be a certified river guide.  He worked so hard, though, and I am so proud of him! He can take the family legally as long as we don't pay him!

Yesterday he and Tiki headed to the midwest with BeBe and PaPa.  They'll be in Tulsa for a few days and then off to Missouri to be with their friends, The Piersons, before heading to Kanakuk Land.  It is so weird with them gone.  I'm a little sad and I think that's why.  Dax was so sad yesterday after they left.  He and I had to have a good 45 minute snuggle.

Meanwhile, the girls have been having a ball with their friends Hally and Rae and with their amazing babysit…

"Drop Box" Movie

Wow!  My mom just sent me this article about this amazing documentary.  The movie trailer is below the article.  Great story!

A pastor in South Korea has found an amazing way to rescue abandoned babies.  Lee Jong-rak is pastor of Jesus-Loving Union Church in Seoul.  He created the Baby Box: A drop box in the side of his home with a sign that reads, "Place to leave babies."  Inside is a thick towel to cushion the babies, with lights and heating to keep the infant comfortable.  When a baby is placed in the box, a bell rings immediately inside the home and the pastor, his wife, or staff associates move the baby inside.

According to official reports, about 600 infants or young children are abandoned on the streets of Seoul each year, though the actual number is probably higher.  Only about 20 percent are rescued; hundreds die on the streets.  Pastor Lee intended the Baby Box to be temporary, but will not close it until he is sure the government can offer adequate prote…

Camp Started Today

The kids came today!!  We have a small group, but our staff is super fired up!  This is a pic of the staff right before the kids arrived.  It going to be a good summer and I know it will fly by!

End Of School

School is finally out for the summer!  These last few weeks have been so long--living at camp and "commuting" to Durango each morning and afternoon. 

Anyway, the last week was full of field trips and projects (and skipping). 

Durango does this neat project called "Rites of Passage."  Ultimately it is a presentation that each student does at the end of his/her Senior Year.  But, starting in Kindergarten they begin to get prepared.  In Kinder, the student will do a "student led" conference and kind of "tour" you around his/her classroom so that you can see what they do in a day.  Then in several of the elementary grades, the students will actually lead the parent/teacher/student conferences.  In eighth grade, the student has to do a 15 minute multi-media presentation for his/her teacher and parents about what he/she learned in middle school and how that prepared him/her for high school and for "life."  When the Seniors do their projects…

Sweet, Thoughful Tiki

So, because of my Master's class, I have to (get to) go to Rwanda next summer for three and a half weeks (I'm going to Uganda this summer).  My dream and hope and desire (and need?) is to bring all five of my kids with me next summer.  I want them all to see Rwanda.  I want them to really experience it and three and a half weeks is a great amount of time.  I want Gabby and Tiki to know the country where there were born.  And more than anything, I want Tiki to be able to have a great time there so that he can look back on the country of his birth with good memories and not memories of "dirt" and "mean people."  Rwanda is a beautiful country full of wonderful people and I want him to know and and love that Rwanda!

Anyway, we were in the car the other day talking about how we'll need to raise money this year and save our money this year so that we can all go to Rwanda next summer.  That discussion led to how we should bring a suitcase of stuff for the kid…