Jan 3, 2012

Movin' on out

Thanks for visiting our little blog! Unfortunately, this site is now blocked in Ethiopia.  Don't worry. It hasn't slowed us down a bit! You can follow (and laugh at) our adventures by visiting us at http://catchusifucan.tumblr.com

Laurie + Mark

Dec 28, 2011

Christmas Recap

We survived, perhaps even thrived, this Christmas holiday. With all of the anxiety built around the holidays coming and going without a family member in sight, it was amazing to see that we can, in fact, be adults and celebrate the holidays on our own. Of course, we missed our families immensely and had we an easy alternative, would have been making our annual trek between Charlotte and Texas with glee, but given our circumstances, we did pretty great (insert pat-on-back here).

Here's a quick recap of the Christmas festivities that surrounded our weekend:

December 23

· Perogi Party at our Polish friend's home.

December 24

· Linner with 13 others at a coworkers home
· Mass and caroling at the Embassy of the Vatican
· Long chat with Mark's family via Skype

December 25
· Opening presents (Ryan banked! He scored an REI fleece vest, Smart Wool bootie socks, Lion-themed bibs, baseball socks, a set of cardboard Dr. Seuss books, and a giant sock monkey. Lots of thanks and love to both sets of grandparents and cousins Kohen, Charleigh, Reagan and Maya for their gifts!)
· Church service at the International Evangelical Church - this is our "home church" in Addis.
· Brunch at the Sheraton with a few coworkers
· Cooking at home (including mashed potatoes with bacon and cheddar cheese! yum!)
· Long chats with the Taylors and my mom and dad
· Fancy Christmas dinner at a friend's home with three other couples
· An all too short chat with Meghan. It was about midnight our time and I was so tired I was slurring my speech! I'll have to call again this week to really catch up (and remember!) how her Christmas was!

December 26 (The Embassy had Monday off)

· Hiking Entoto Mountain

Take the word "hiking" lightly. We intended to hike the mountain, but this is Ethiopia so it's not like the trail was marked. Next time we’ll bring someone experienced with us to help us find our way. We ended up driving near the top and walking the road between one large historical church and another. Entoto is the largest mountain in Addis and it sits at the north end of the city. On the top of the mountain (about 10,000 feet above sea level) rests a small village. We arrived as school was letting out for lunch and made far too many friends along the way! The kids wanted pens for school and one little boy needed new shoes, we unfortunately didn't have any money on us (we were anticipating a quiet hiking trail, not an afternoon with shoeless children!) and Mark feels strongly that we should give to parents and the school rather than the children themselves. So we'll be returning to the top of Mount Entoto shortly. Along the way we captured a few pictures - they love the camera and wanted desperately to see pictures of themselves with their friends. We were happy to oblige, though the fight to view the digital proofs was kind of intense. Men here are generally smaller than most – blame a lack of adequate nutrition not a lack of physical labor - and their muscle mass tends to be very lean (remember, this is a land of runners. Long, stringy muscles abound.) so the little boys kept trying to punch Mark in the arm. They were in awe of his muscle mass. You can imagine how ego-boosting humbling of an experience that was for him.

NOTE: Blogger isn't letting me upload pics right now. Mark will try to do this from work tomorrow. Sorry for the tease!

Dec 24, 2011

Christmas in Africa

Merry Christmas, y'all!

While we won't receive our HHE shipment (i.e. the big shipment with the majority of our goods) until mid January, we did receive our smaller, UAB shipment just in time for Christmas.  Inside we packed a few important Christmas decorations to help us survive this season without close family and friends nearby.  It's been a great treat! Probably our most important packing decision was the last-minute purchase of a Christmas tree-scented Yankee Candle. Yum!

The garland shown below was used previously in our DC home down the staircase.  Our new staircase will require at least 5x as much. I'm hoping to grab a great deal online for additional garland after Christmas! Next year we're excited to go all-out for the holidays when my family comes to visit!

I picked up a gingerbread kit from Michael's about 3 days before we packed out.  We decorated the house this morning (Dec 24) after a healthy breakfast of JEWISH COFFEE CAKE!!! My grandma, along with rest of the Charlotte crew, sent us the greatest Christmas package we received: baked goods. My grandma's coffee cake is a Christmas staple in our family (don't ask what makes it Jewish - I have no idea - and yes, I get the irony). On Friday we were at the Embassy and I was complaining about the lack of coffee cake in my life and how it just didn't feel like Christmas without it.  Then we went to the shipping room and received our surprise care package! Perfect timing! 

Last Christmas we had two small trees flanking the entrance to our DC home. We packed out one of the little guys into our small shipment. Such a small tree required us to limit our ornament selection so we both agreed that an angel tree was most appropriate.  Each year my Grandma (yup, the same one that makes the coffee cake!) handcrafts an angel for each member of the family. When Mark and I started dating, he began receiving them, too! We packed out all of our angels and it makes for a small but very special tree.

This year my grandma made everyone an Ethiopian Farewell Angel! My grandpa cut out each of the waving bodies and my grandma painted and sewed their decor. Our maid/cook, Emme, got a kick out of this. She is from Amhara, the most traditional Ethiopian region of the country where people still dress like this every day.

We put up as many angles as we could, but we left off some of the more fragile selections.  With such a small tree, the cats can access and destroy anything they set their eyes on.  Frank has been extra destructive in the new home breaking two crystal wine glasses, one new candle holder (I found it at a pottery shop run by women with HIV/AIDS), and one vase.

This is the oldest angel I have, from 1989. 

This is the only ornament on the tree not from my grandma.  Conveniently, it's an angel too! When one of our closest friends Anna was diagnosed with cancer and the doctors thought she would no longer make it, her church held a prayer meeting. At the end of the meeting, each participant left the church with one of these angels in-hand. God worked a miracle and soon Anna will graduate college with a degree in Special Education. Anna's family sweetly sent Mark and I a great Christmas care package and included one of the angels for us to have. It's an amazing reminder of the miraculous nature of our God.  That He sent His only son to show us how to love, that He can cure everything from a bad cluster of cells to a bad heart and that He can give us a son to love and raise and hold each day. We're getting so excited to meet him! We pray that wherever you are this Christmas, you are safe and warm.  We'll be home for Christmas.. if only in our dreams.

Dec 16, 2011

We don't live in a hut

Ethiopia is no stranger to wealth disparities and it's an apparent trend when you check out our new diggs.  This is what it looks like when you're a Saudi Princess with African taste...or at least what I think it looks like. There's no telling, really.

Pretty nice, huh? The house comes with 4 bedrooms, a den, office, dressing room, living, dining, kitchen and 3.5 baths. I can't wait to get our own furniture in the house (HHE is set to arrive late January!) and add touches of home.  Of course, such ostentation is not without design mishaps. Welcome to the small pool in our Master bath...

If you're curious: there's not enough hot water in Addis to fill this tub.  I'm not sure what it's purpose is and let's just say there are some interestingly placed jets.  I won't be bathing in this any time soon! Still not convinced? Why don't you come visit us in Addis? The upstairs guest bath is just a delightful shade of pink!

Yup, that's a pink sink, toilet, tub, shelving unit and wall.  Did you see that sexy mirror? It graces every one of our bathrooms. Any suggestions y'all have one what exactly I should do to "tone down" this bathroom are welcome.  Right now, I'm thinking a white waffle weave shower curtain and a long white curtain on a suspension rod covering the shelves (if you click on the picture and view full size, you can see just what terrible shape these shelves are in).  Any other ideas?

Of course, I can't talk about our home without also discussing the nursery.  It's the thing I'm most excited about.  Mark and I have come up with some pretty creative solutions to the problems you can see below.  I think you'll like them. 

I'm not going to share all of the details just yet, primarily because I'm running out of battery and my *darling* husband ran off with the outlet converter, but see that terrible wall of dark built-ins? We're covering them with this amazing removable wallpaper from Trendy Peas:

except in this fun turquoise color:

Not sure what to do with an all-blue bathroom.  Any suggestions?

So we're slowly settling in and getting acquainted with our not-so-humble abode.  More updates (and fun pics!) so share soon! 

Lots of love,