Wednesday, August 25, 2010

hippie days are here again

When Tim's parents came, they came bearing gifts. Many, many wonderful gifts. Included in the stash were several new articles of clothing- some for me, but mostly for Eleanor. Probably to no one's surprise, she's growing and this means growing out of things, so the other day I pulled out these new pants for her to try on. They're a little long, but a lot fun. "How's my little hippie?" Tim asked her as she sauntered out of the bedroom, shirtless and sporting her beaded necklace. The answer, pretty darn good, dad.

serious hippie.

happy hippie.

seriously happy hippie.

bell-bottomed hippie.

tattooed hippie (from laying on a watermelon chalk drawing).

creative hippie.

bird watching hippie.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I sometimes have a (very) difficult time getting Eleanor to eat. I make special foods, I give her options, I fly the airplane, I show her how good it tastes, I let her explore with her hands and feed herself, I simply place the food in front of her and let her decide whether she wants it or not. Sometimes these things work, sometimes they do not.

One thing that does tend to get her eating is letting her share her food. With mom, with dad, with the dogs, with anything that has a mouth (yes, Eleanor actually put those pieces of tortilla there).

Friday, August 20, 2010

like mother like daughter

This afternoon while outside with Eleanor in the yard I blew a snot rocket. Very ladylike, I know. I have been congested for going on 3 months now and most of the time I just can't be bothered to find something to blow my nose into.

Eleanor witnessed this event, and was fascinated by it. I mean FASCINATED. She excitedly pointed to what was in my nose just moments earlier, and did not relent until I told her (several times) "Yes, that's mom's snot. Yes. There it is." Suddenly she stopped pointing, paused a beat, and then gently bent over the same spot I did and blew a little bit of air out of her nose. She did this several more times over the next hour- randomly stopping to lean forward and blow air out her nose. Just like mom.

The day we learned we were having a girl (I will never forget) Tim and I strolled across campus, hand in hand, excited at the news and he moved a little closer and said "You know, she's going to look to you for what it means to be a woman."

Here's to hoping that she picks up a few more feminine traits/ideas from me too.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

incident with a lizard

A few days ago, in the late afternoon, I swung the door open to the porch. Eleanor, just a few feet behind me, stopped at the door as I was saying to her that I needed to check the tiles (they are often too hot for bare feet after baking in the sun all day). As I bent down just in front of the door, facing the tiles, I felt something hit my head and seconds later saw a lizard scurrying toward the opposite side of the chimney. I don't know if he was drunk, dared by his friends, or just lost his footing, but it scared the crap out of me (and rightly so, I think) and I screamed. This, in turn, made Eleanor scared and she started to cry. After a few moments of comforting and reassurance that the lizard was all gone, she stopped. But she still wanted nothing to do with the porch.

The event must have been pretty dramatic, maybe even traumatic, for her; since that day, and several times each day, she seems to relive it. She points to the door and says "Ahhh, ahhh" with rising and falling intonation while using the "all done" sign. She then points to my head, and says all done once again. Sometimes I think that first "ahhh, ahhh" is her imitating my scream, which is equally funny in its own right. Everytime we go to the porch she does the same thing, and now there's an extra pause while she waits for me to tell her that it's safe to come out. There are no lizards falling from the sky.

It's strange to think that in no time this will be a forgotten memory for Eleanor, and all we'll have left is this blog post to remind us of that "incident with a lizard."

Friday, August 13, 2010


Not since March have Eleanor and I joined Tim on a trip to his field site- the time for us to do so was long overdue. So last week we packed our warmest clothes and extra servings of zucchini curry and headed to Simanjiro for 4 nights.

It was an immensely successful trip for Tim - the last before he rolled out his household survey (the bulk of his dissertation data collection)- and a very enjoyable trip for Eleanor and me. The cooler temperatures, the (little) improvement in my Kiswahilli, Eleanor's independence of mobility and interest in other children, shorter grasses which make for easier walking, and the fact that we didn't spend all day, each day, in the car all helped make the experience easier for both of us to handle.

It was also a real pleasure to watch Tim at work. I get glimpses of him conducting field work- through his stories and the stories of others- but to witness (and experience) a group interview in a boma or hear the exchange between Tim and his new field assistant as they discuss the upcoming questionnaire and walk up and down the river in Terrat where herders were gathering to water their cattle made everything a little more...well...real. I am so thankful for that opportunity.

"Mom, look!"

"I'm sorry, did you want that water?"

Dusk at the boma entrance.

The resident chameleon.

Chairs, fire-side.
Chopping firewood, Isaya (front) and Tim.

Newly built health clinic, Landanai Village.

 Inside the clinic, USAID food bags.

After lunch, mom and Eleanor.

Laughing at goats.

Red earth. Red pants.

Group interview, Maasai boma.

Training the new field assistant to take GPS readings.

 Dam and cattle trough, Terrat Village.

Calling to the giraffe (standing by the tree).
Same giraffe sighting.


Early morning reading with dad: Turtle Splash Countdown at the Pond.

Playing in bucket of water- fun; being soaking wet as a result- not so fun.

Eleanor, Sukuro Village.

Outside the village administrative offices, Sukuro.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

an afternoon spent drawing

As you may have guessed from previous posts we have a lovely brick patio (well, porch really) off our living room, on which we spend a great deal of time. Especially lately, as the weather has been cooler and there's no need to hide from the blazing sun, there are many afternoons that we find ourselves out there; having tired of the backyard, exploring the sandbox or pumpkin patch, or needing a quite respite from our recent trip to town, the peace of our porch is wonderfully relaxing. And, when the clouds cooperate it provides a stunning view of Mount Meru-- of which I never tire.

Lately, one of our (collectively) favorite activities is to spend the afternoon drawing with chalk; then washing away our creations and starting all over again.

 Eleanor, drawing.

Dad, drawing.

Hummingbird and shoe prints.

Taking a break for kisses.

Eleanor, sitting on the photographer.

And then on mom (notice her pants?).

Good thing it washes off.




Helping dad.

Dad and Eleanor.

Wall drawings, by Eleanor.

All done.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


A while back when I posted about how Tim was absolutely kicking ass in his dissertation research, I received a number of emails responses requesting that I write something similar about myself. It seemed an odd request, at first, but for some reason I feel compelled to write about this tonight. Maybe it's because Tim just thanked me for all the work I've done this year, for all that I have given him, and all that I manage to get done while still giving him the time and space that he needs for his work. I guess it got me thinking.

I went to bed last night at 11:45-ish. Eleanor's first wake-up (yes, she still does not sleep through the night) came LATE for her- not until 1:00am! I woke, put her back to sleep, and fell back asleep myself. She woke again at 4:00 am and was awake (smiling and laughing) at roughly 7:00 (which is late for her). I got up with her and we read. Then I made breakfast for us both, fed her (and ate myself) and got her dressed. Asina came a little after 8:30. I exercised (in the bedroom to my P90X videos. Yes, I do feel like Napoleon Dynamite) for one hour and forty minutes (no, this is NOT normal). Just as I finished, Eleanor came in from outside and was ready for a nap. I put her to sleep. I got Asina started on prepping dinner (sweet potato falafels) and the those Marathon Cookies I wrote about last month (we're taking a trip to the field tomorrow and the guys love these cookies). I took a shower. I made coffee and cooked wheat berries for Eleanor's lunch. Then I put in roughly 2.5 hours of work- nearly all of it spent with my head spinning, still, about this one manuscript that I'm working on. Somewhere in there I ate lunch- leftovers from last night...and the last of my quinoa.

Asian left at 2:00, at which point Eleanor had a little more to eat, we read, and played on the porch- drawing and kicking the soccer ball. I changed her clothes again (I can't begin to describe how dry and dusty it is here), and we brushed our teeth (yes, for the first time today). We then walked down our road to meet Tim. We went grocery shopping at Pick 'N Pay and then got produce from the fruit and veg stand in town. Back home, while Tim unloaded the car, I rounded up food for Eleanor's dinner. She didn't want any of it, so I made her zucchini curry. I cleaned up from dinner while she and Tim played chase and then got all the ingredients out and prepped for the rest of our dinner. I drew and gave Eleanor her bath (and tonight we washed her hair, which was extra fun). I read "Go Dog, Go!", slathered her in lotion (again, it is SO dry), and nursed her to sleep. I finished dinner while Tim went downstairs and got me a glass of wine. I had a lovely dinner with my husband, who is about to unveil his survey (i.e. give it to his assistants so they can start the main portion of his data collection), and feeling some apprehension about the process going smoothly. I cleaned up from dinner and just now, as I was typing, finished my wine (I also just answered two work emails and read through one pretty...disheartening?...personal email).

Tim and Eleanor are asleep and the house is quiet, save the running water sounds that we play at night. I am making a list of the food, clothes and entertainment I need to be sure to pack for Eleanor for tomorrow's journey to Simanjero (a 4 night adventure that we haven't had since March) and contemplating going downstairs for another glass of wine.

Funny. I just reread the post and it doesn't feel like I did that much today.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hero Rat

For father's day, my brother Kean forwarded an Op-Ed from the New York Times and suggested that perhaps we, too, should consider an 'alternative' gift for my dad. The columnist stated that "Father’s Day tends to be less a celebration of fatherhood than a triumph of commercialism...." and urged readers to think outside the box. The article was chalk-full of websites like that of the National Urban Technology Center, which helps low-income youths gain computer skills and the Black Star Project which seeks to get families in low-income communities more involved in the educational lives of kids.  For those of you who know my dad, you must be thinking "Oh, well, The National Fatherhood Initiative is an obvious organization to support in honor of your must have been that" right? Nope. We bought my dad a rat. A Hero Rat.

Well, in actuality, we bought a year's worth of bananas for a Hero Rat in my dad's name. The African giant pouched rat, about 30 inches long including tail, "have poor sight but excellent noses, and are used to detect landmines in Africa. The rats are too light to set off the mines, but they can explore a suspected minefield and point with their noses to buried mines. After many months of training, a rat can clear as much land in 20 minutes as a human can in two days." Pretty cool, right?

I certainly thought so. Until four days later. Eleanor and I woke up early (Tim was in the field) and went into the kitchen/living room to read and play. After a 5 or 10 minutes playing on the floor by the table, I got up to start water boiling for my morning coffee. When I turned around from the kitchen I came face to face with my own hero rat-- sitting not 3 feet from Eleanor. I screamed (you'll recall that's what I did the last time I posted about a rat in the kitchen), swooped Eleanor from the floor onto the couch by the table, and tried to stop my heart from pounding out of my chest.

In response to an email description of this event, my friend Meghan wrote "funny. rat in your kitchen is annoying, rat for dad is great." So, so true.

Anyway, dad, if you think your rat is getting lonely, I think I know where I could find her/him a friend.

(PS- The images are fuzzy for exactly two reasons: (1) it was so d#*@ early and (2) I was shaking. SHAKING. And the reason I could get so close, turns out, is because this rat was dying. The guard that responded to my cries for help simply picked it up by the tail and carried it outside.)


Sunday, August 1, 2010


Airplanes, pardon the pun, are top on Eleanor's radar screen lately. Anytime she hears one, her finger shoots skyward, a look of both surprise and sheer pleasure passes over her face, and she says "AH!" When you ask her what it is she will reply with (her version of) the word airplane. It's not 'airplane' as you or I pronounce it, but it is unmistakable. "And where does the airplane fly?" will surely get you the word "Up."

It's not just hearing airplanes that causes such ecstasy. Seeing pictures, flying them around the apartment, or watching them at the airport all bring just as much joy and excitement. I have no doubt that she is not the only toddler to have such an affinity, but I sometimes wonder if her's isn't a little more...visceral.

Oh, and her favorite airplane video, complete with Enya soundtrack, can be found here. Just in case you yourself are a lover of airplanes.

Flying airplane.

Airplane flying higher.


 Looking for it outside.