Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mud Painting

Amelia and her new friend Anna want to start a business creating, painting and selling pictures made from mud. They spent hours gathering the right ingredients for mud paint and flower petal paint. Painting the pictures with meticulous detail Amelia asked how much she could charge for them. I wasn't sure. The next day her mud and flower paint had been cleaned-up. Amelia voiced her frustration and I reminded her that it was our cereal bowls she had used to mix the paint in. But I have to confess it was our helper Sarah who cleaned them up (without me asking her too) and what a mess it must have been to scrub out those bowls and the stairs!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kenyan Elementary School

Regent Academy Kijabe School (Form 1). This school was started by Africa Inland Church Kijabe two years ago with a special interest in providing education for girls.


We brought these books to donate to the school and I asked where the library was. The principal Esther said, "We don't have a library..these will be our first books for the school."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Do airlines discriminate against kids?

There are 30 rows of seats on the average passenger airplane (64 rows on a 747 and around 35 on a 757). If half of the flyers preselect their seat and are granted their request, then those who have not preselected have a 1/15 chance of being in any particular row (6% probability).

On our recent trip back to the United States we had 6 different flights between the cities of Nairobi, Dubai, San Francisco, New York City, and Seattle. On each of the flights we preselected seats in the middle of the plane. On 3 of those flights (even though our seating request had been preselected) we glanced at our ticket and saw seats 64 A,B,C,D. So Sara and I and two very tired girls took the long walk past first class, past the first row of bathrooms, past coach, past the second row of bathrooms, and turned to our left just before the drink cart and stow-away seat. I mean, come-on the very back row on 3 of 6 flights (and this is not the first time) seems like more than chance.

We tried to sleep any way possible even using the lap tray to rest on but couldn't in chairs that wouldn't recline. Sara was bumped and disturbed by the doors of the restroom directly behind our seats. And of course we deboarded the airplane as the very last passengers.

It costs 4 cents to fly 1 pound 1000 miles. Amelia and Meredith weigh combined 90 lbs. That is about 1/3 that of the combined weight of an average couple 270 lbs. Amelia and Meredith pay the same fare as an adult on all domestic flights. The flight distance from Seattle to Kenya is approximately 10,000 miles. Amelia and Meredith's weight savings in cost of fuel not needed for the airlines is over $700 one way.

Do airlines intentionally seat young children at the back of the plane? Do they use online reservation age information to discriminate? Do they want these kids out of sight and out of mind in the back of the plane to retain a more professional class at the front of the plane? Is it fair when these little kids (although noisy and with a tendency to kick the chair of the passenger to the front) actually save airlines significantly in fuel costs? (Amazingly each flight could save $23 in fuel costs due to decreased weight if passengers relieved themselves before boarding.)

Has this happened to any other families with young kids or maybe I'm just imagining a conspiracy?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Much Better Late Than Never

My little sister Kiersten is never early, fashionably and consistently late, but always good for her word. Before we left for Africa Kiersten and her husband Jason promised they would come visit. Twenty some months later they landed in Nairobi making good on their word. And what a wonderful visit it was.

Jason is an anethesiologist fellowship trained in regional blocks. As far as we know Kenya does not have any doctors trained in this subspecialty. Dr. Jason Ramirez was quickly popular, often grabbed by several anesthetists the moment he walked in the OR. Mornings he gave lectures to the 10-15 nurse anesthetists on anything from anatomy of regional blocks, to anesthesia in patients with head injury, to obstetrical anesthesia. Jason said the KRNA's "were like sponges..wanting to soak up information. But very quiet when asked a question, even though they knew the answer."

Jason's favorite part of medicine is managing the difficult issue of pain. Pain in Kenya I believe is often under-treated or not treated at all. Patients suffering from fractures lie in unpleasant wards for weeks in traction with little or no pain relief offered We assume Africans are tough or just prescribe a little paracetamol. Long acting regional nerve blocks to the upper and lower extremities placed by Dr. Jason had one child smiling and eating for the first time in days and another chronic pain patient walking comfortably (or at least assumed so as he could not be found bedside on rounds).

Below Jason is teaching the KRNAs how to give a patient a long lasting femoral nerve block before knee surgery.

Kiersten, an RN with masters in international health spent time with the community health HIV outreach team helping with medications. Kiersten learned to make Samosas and ran the trails with Sara. We also celebrated Kiersten's 3rd anniversary of her 29th birthday. She reclaimed the ever changing title of Amelia and Meredith's new favorite Auntie!

Kiersten and Jason did find time for visits to Safari (Kiersten said they couldn't stop smiling), Masai Market, Carnivore Restaurant, and above at Kazuri beads (Kazuri means little and beautiful... Jason's new nickname for Kiersten).

The best part of having Kiersten & Jason in Africa was that we remarkably became reacquainted in a way that would not happen in America. Without distractions, I remembered what a delightful little sister I have and what a joyful couple Kiersten & Jason have become. They were a blessing and encouragement to us. We will miss them.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Suggestions for fun in the Pacific Northwest

We always enjoy hiking, biking, beach combing, shell hunting, kite flying and seafood when on Whidbey Island. But for our readers who live in the Pacific Northwest a few other ideas are the kangaroo farm in Arlington (yes, no kangaroos in Kenya) and the girls even ended-up on the Evening Magazine TV show, the Children's Museum in Burlington, and if you know my father or think you might like to know him a crabbing/shrimping/fishing trip is always fun. He's not really picky about who comes in the boat. I think his basic requirements are a license to harvest things out of the ocean, not too chatty (unless you want to talk fishing), non-smoking, and patience as he tries to find the perfect spot. Well, judging by the size of that crab he usually finds what he's hoping to catch. Too bad seafood doesn't travel well to Kenya.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Quite honestly we tried to get perfect, smiley pictures of the cousins, but in the end some of the best pictures were when they pulled silly faces. Looking at these pictures it feels like more than 8 days have passed since returning to Kenya. Since returning Amelia has resumed school, soccer, piano and started her car for the pinewood derby, Meredith has played with Claire each day, started preschool, decorated herself and room with stickers, and managed to cut open both knees, Malin returned to working at the dental clinic, playing soccer, running and reading apologetics, I was supposed to take this week to sort out our home lives but have ended-up delivering 4 babies at all hours of the day/night, seeing private clinic patients, attending a Bible study, arranging to resume teaching piano lessons, and (thankfully) some quilting and running. There are many good things about being here, at Kijabe, in Kenya, but we also believe that God is leading us to move again, this time to New Mexico by July 2011 for my fellowship. When and how this will happen we're still sorting out, but we trust in the provision of God.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Well the route wasn't direct Seattle-Phoenix-NY-Dubai-Kenya and US airways has to be about the worst carrier around (thankfully our longer flights were on Air Emirates), but we have arrived back. It's been great to have Kiersten and Jason visiting us the next two weeks. Amelia was thrilled to return to school and Meredith is back playing daily with her BFF Claire. Our house had new spider webs, spiders, and a few other bugs, but generally seemed okay with our extended absence. The fish, dog and bunny also were still alive thanks to our neighbors. For now our biggest hassle is a non-working modem which means no internet access at our house. Hopefully it will get going by this weekend! After enjoying such easy access to family and friends while in the States the loss of connectivity is particularly annoying.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Decision Time

It's official; I become a fellow of pelvic reconstruction July 2011 at the University of New Mexico. This may be a rare interest in the world of medicine (although the statistics for the numbers of women with incontinence are staggering), but I'm excited. There's much more to write about this decision and how it all came about, but that will have to wait until we have finished laundry, packing, goodbyes, leave Seattle Sept 9th and arrive in Kenya September 11th. For now I can say that Malin is an amazing husband, there are a LOT of details to work out, and we hope the next "vacation" we take doesn't involve surgery or any major life decisions.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


We've been in the States 5 weeks now and leave next week. The additional time here has allowed me to physically recover and provided Amelia and Meredith some opportunity for thrilling horse rides, kangaroo petting, multiple park visits, letter boxing (watch out for the barbed wire on the Whidbey Island clue), play time with cousins, and fishing and crabbing expeditions. There's more I could add, but the point is they've had fun. Malin and I also have taken a unexpected trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico (thanks Mom for the frequent flyer mile use!) because I was offered a fellowship position there starting July 1st. We need to give a decision by Monday and would appreciate your prayers as we sort out what is best for our family.