Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thanksgiving Trip 2013

I've been in Nairobi 3 months now, it really feels like a whole lot longer than 3 months, but that's all. While I've been here we haven't done as much exploring as we did in Laos, but it appears that we are going to make deadly road trips a Thanksgiving tradition. If I were high speed, you'd be all in the know about our deadly road trip we took up North to the communist caves in Laos, but, well as you are aware, I am LAZY and did not blog on that trip, but it was epic and I feel awful for not rehashing the stories of vomit and kids falling into ancient jars in field littered with land mines...

Anyhoo, lets get back to this Thanksgiving trip- the week before Christmas, because in case you missed it, I'm lazy and forget to keep up with my blog.

"Driving? You're driving?" Is the question we kept getting. Yes, us crazy Pryor's drove to the coast. Why is it crazy, let me tell you..In our first 20 minutes of driving a car slammed into the back of a truck, causing Mike to utilize his defensive driving skills to maneuver around flying car bits; through the whole trip he also had to overtake ( a way better word than passing) trucks going no more than 20 mph on a two lane highway, which in some cases had us on the side of the road trying not to spin out. While the drive was less than desirable...I MISS MY Sequoia! The trip is definitely to be remembered.

First we stopped in Mombasa for work, which wasn't bad, especially since this work trip I knew what I was capable of- pool all day with movies in the afternoon and a nice dinner at the hotel once work was finished. Really! Because if Bangkok taught me one thing, it was: don't over do it alone. I barely have enough patience at home to deal with the kids alone, but throw me into an unknown city that is possibly unsafe...meh I totally don't feel guilty. The kids had fun playing games swimming and Tess is now convinced her swimming costume is a ballet uniform.

From Mombasa we took our real vacation at Tiwi beach in lovely little cottages at Sand Island. Now that was awesome. We had our own cottage and our own food, plus the beach was pretty perfect for our family. With a sand bar separating the beach and the ocean waves with a shallow pool of warm water, allowing for non swimmers to swim freely and parents to read books while a fed baby slept in his tent... Yes, it was amazing, and a real vacation, even with 4 kids!

So while the drive wasn't the best to the beach, it was totally worth it. Enjoy some photos!

At the hotel in Mombasa
Don't be fooled by the fact that I grew him for 9 months and gave birth...he is HER baby.

At Tiwi Beach

And somehow there were 4!

While Maggie loved the star fish, Tess couldn't be coursed into loving them too.

And the happy parents of 4! are actually enjoying themselves.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Halloween 2013

We like to do family costumes, and a certain husband likes to make said costumes, in years past this has been a fun project, often times involving my sewing machine, which pretty much only makes an appearance for said projects. 

This year was no different. We decided as a family that we would do Star Wars family costumes. Luke, Hans, Leia, Yoda, and R2D2...I was supposed to be C-3PO, but after realizing the best way to accomplish this costume would be a gold full body suit, that idea was cut...You can thank me for being spared that sight ;)

With the characters chosen all we had to do was collect items to assemble the costumes. Now this is where I find it tricky to do homemade and many arguments took place many nights leading up to Halloween. While Africa, and especially Kenya has a plethora of used clothes, I didn't have the guts to venture out to find specific items on the list and couldn't bring myself to pay full price for items that wouldn't be used again. Items like a vest or Karate top. I wanted to just buy the costumes, but the only costume I was allowed to buy was Yoda.

I ended up buying fabric to make a vest, and Leia costume; and hit the local sports shop for a Karate uniform...One of our kids better become a black belt! When I finally stopped procrastinating and broke out the sewing machine, I remembered there is a problem with the needle and bobbin thingy, broke in February and I don't know anything about sewing machines, especially not enough to fix one.

Taking my sister in law's advice on using a pillow case for Leia, I was able to use my fabric by just folding it in half, cutting a head hole and cinching it with her belt. Super easy. Then came Hans' vest...I cant sew so I just cut a vest then used saftey pins in the back to give it a more vesty look. Done!

Mike made R2D2 out of poster board and a bowl. We knew the costume would be difficult to wear, I did argue for the costume to be made with a pillow case, but it wasn't my project and in the end, Tess wore it most of the night, needing some fixes along the trick-or-treat path. 

The day of Halloween, I guess I felt a bit guilty for opting out of dressing up for yet another Halloween, so I looked up Jedi and Padawan costumes. I basically did the same thing I did for Maggie's Leia costume to make a Padawan costume, so even if I wasn't a specific movie character, I did join in. 

Enough words check out these shots Mike got before the costumes fell apart ;)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Giraffe Centre

Saturday our family made the trek out to the Giraffe Center. I say trek because the center is located in Karen, a suburb of Nairobi. It takes so long to get there and traffic is so bad, it feels as if you've left the city entirely. It's a trip that requires planning and knowing it'll be a whole day. It was a trip we made off the cusp.

After arriving at the center, my feelings of making a day out of the trip to Karen was solidified. While it wasn't expensive to get in, there was not much to do after we fed the one giraffe who was being greedy and listening to the talk about what the center does. All in all, it was about a 30-minute activity.

The talk was good to listen to, the center is focusing on breeding a certain species of giraffe that has been endangered due to the development of the country; the Rothschild Giraffe. These giraffes are very pretty, except for their yucky looking tongue.

Tess feeding the giraffe.

Because it takes so long to get out there and very near by is the Kazuri! Bead Factory, we decided to take the kids out there, I'd been once and wanted to take Maggie to see how the beads were made and to pick out a necklace of her own. Once we arrived though, it was clear that only the shop was open and the factory wasn't in operation. Total bummer, I feel it took the significance away and the kids were not on their best behavior in the store. 

Next time, if there is a next time...We will be making a full day out of Karen, hitting some other spots that are popular to include the Jolly Roger theme park, which was closed to the public Saturday for a private function.

Want to learn more about what The Giraffe Center does?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Culture Shock revisited

It's been a month since I arrived to my new home in Nairobi and I have to say I feel pretty good, maybe it's the sleep Baby Ty has been allowing me to get at night, or maybe it's the area we are living in, or maybe it's from having a better idea of what's important to me when I get to a place.

Many people might remember my blog post I wrote after spending some time in Laos, It's my culture shock and I'll cry if I want to. It was difficult to get into the swing of things, especially with a newborn so most would call us crazy for doing the exact same thing again, only this time we split up and the older kids came over a month before me and the baby. Tess was a pretty great baby, but she kept me up most nights affording me time to Facebook stalk all my friends who were 12 or 14 hours behind me. Ty is polite enough to sleep until 20 minutes before my alarm goes off, so I am a pretty well rested new mom of 4!

Four kids! It's crazy around here some days, so I am really thankful to be living on a large compound with lots of other families and very close to a playground and pool! It make my life 10 times easier to be able to tell the kids get out and go play! While Nairobi is considered a high crime place, and I don't expect to be letting my guard down, it's nice to be able to have the kids ride bike and socialize with their friends while i get to chat with other adults.

While we were living in Laos we didn't quite get into a good rhythm for getting out and socializing without the kids, so we agreed that it was pretty important to find someone who we felt comfortable with and wouldn't have a problem staying with the kids.

Having a reliable person in the house was also pretty important to me because I've finally decided to finish school. With a new baby at home school work can get tricky, but having someone to help with him will be very important.

It wasn't the smoothest of landings; having a terrorist attack occur 4 days after arriving and my husband having to work crazy long hours, all the kids out of school when Ty and I were jetlagged and a moody housekeeper banging around the house. It feels like we might be finding our normal and that's good.

I can't put my finger on the exact thing that has left me feeling good, but I can say it's great to be able to experience the honeymoon phase of culture shock and I hope it lasts for the next 2 year ;)

Time to put that baby on and GET OUT THERE!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hell's Gate National Park

As I mentioned before we have our first visitor. She was serving in the Peace Corps in Southern Africa and just recently did a big Safari with her parents, so Mike had to figure out a good out of the city activity. Originally we would've liked to go to the coast, but after the Westgate Mall attack a travel restriction was put on people working at the Embassy. The restriction has since been lifted, but it was too late of notice for us to get our act together. No safari and no beach, what else could we do with little time and kind of off the cusp...Camping!

Mike took the kids camping while Ty and I were still in the states, then again this weekend with Finn's Tiger Scout Den, so he was pretty knowledgeable on a  place, what to bring, what we could do without etc. So we grabbed up a few things and headed to Hell's Gate National Park, about an hour and a half drive out of Nairobi, with an awesome view of the Rift Valley about half way through.

Hell's Gate was originally named valley where lots of people died because a volcano erupted in the 1600's killing lots of people, but the first settlers who used the area to transport goods from Tanzania decided Hell's Gate sounded better.

In this national park there are tons of animals, but we are told no big predators, so we got to see lots and lots of Zebras, Impalas, Hartebeest, and even Warthogs, which I might add totally run like Pumba from The Lion King and it is too freaking CUTE! 

When we got to the park we had a nice picnic and watched the animals down below living the high life of not being hunted.

After our picnic, we went over to a gorge for a little hiking. Mike didn't tell me until we paid our guide that it might be a little steep with some parts making us lower ourselves down off high rocks. Probably a good thing because I doubt I would've tagged along for this one had I known what I would be doing and that my legs would still be hurting 2 days later!
Climbing down a particularly steep part of the gorge, wearing Ty.

Yes, I just did that. What a trooper little man is!

Always  good day when you get to see a tiny monkey, especially when he's not stealing anything ;)

Climbing girl

I like to call this "Doing it Pryor style" in other words something not suitable for children.

View from the bottom of the gorge

One of the many HUGE pieces of obsidian Maggie found. No, we didn't keep it, it's not allowed.


After a long hike we headed over to a natural hot spring that is being turned into pools for visitors of the park. Even though it was open the day before, it was closed for cleaning when we popped in, but Mike wasn't giving up, he was swimming. So he and the kids jumped into a pool that wasn't quite open to the public after being given permission from the manager of the building crew on site.
After Tess nearly drowned in a sulfur pool, we decided it was time to get to our campsite and relax a little. I slept pretty well on a bed in a room while Mike and the older kids slept in our tent. Ty did awesome and slept pretty much through the night, and didn't wake our visitor, which was what I feared.
The kids goofing off.
It was a seriously quick trip. Once we finished our breakfast we headed back into Nairobi. On our way home a lost Giraffe found his way onto the road we were driving on. While the park we were in was not controlled too much, some of the animals were kind of gated off from others to keep from spreading disease, so to find this guy wondering around was so strange that even the Kenyans about were shocked and staring!
Our morning traffic jam.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

ISO (In Search of): My SH**!

We have our first visitor arriving tomorrow so I've been tasked to get the guest room ready. No problem, let me take out our sheets, and oh the bathroom needs a shower curtain and towels...where are these things?

Between Mike moving in and receiving multiple shipments before I got here, changing house keepers and 3 kids constantly taking things out and moving them it's become a daily exercise to find things around here.


Getting out of the shower, I spent about 10 minutes opening drawers and closets looking for my jeans. I finally gave up and put on yoga pants for the day. Turns out they were with Mike's suits, you know to go with trousers.

Finn had P.E. at school, it took 10 minutes to find his uniform in Ty's dresser, in my room.

Making empanadas, I searched the entire kitchen for my rolling pin to roll out the dough. I Gave up and used a bottle of vodka instead. Still haven't found the rolling pin.

Where is.... has become a more common question, than the usual lazy kid go-to. Mike and I are calling out over and over: have you seen... where is... I can't find... didn't I send....

Even with the frustration of looking for stuff, I've decided that I will have some excuse to not be present when our shipments come in because Mike did a fantastic job setting up the house. Our house in Laos was an example of just how bad at unpacking I am, we had an entire room full of junk that I just didn't know what to do with. Every surface in the house was covered in stuff too, so even if I can't find anything, at least I'm not embarrassed when kids at the playground need to use a toilet and I send the mom's to my house.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Welcome to Nairobi

Maybe you've heard of Nairobi, possibly a lot more lately due to two HUGE things happening in the past few months, but before I get into all that, I am going to start off with us still being in Laos, because that's where a lot of our biggest decisions had to be made to end up here in Nairobi.

Firstly our initial 2nd posting in the Foreign Service was supposed to be Accra, Ghana, but things changed and we had a list of 4 places we could go. Because we lost our post, we figured we'd get our first choice, and we did! Nairobi, Kenya.

While we were still in Laos, and after we found out we would be going to Kenya and how all the timing would work we found out I was pregnant with baby number 4, so everything we had planned had to be changed, in big ways. Instead of selling our car that we couldn't take to Nairobi ,we would ship our car back to The States. Instead of all flying to Nairobi in June, Mike and I would part ways for the summer (2 months in case you were wondering) and with the help of my older brother I'd drive across the U.S. to spend the summer in Arizona with my family waiting to have baby number 4. After baby number 4 was born Mike and the three older children would fly to Kenya, alone, so they could attend school and I would fly to Kenya at a later date. With a few bumps in the road, this all happened.

The kids and I didn't have the BEST summer, but it was nice. Both older kids got to go to summer camp, while Tess and I puttered about. It's nice to have a 2 year old who operates at the same pace as a 8-month pregnant lady, afternoon naps were a must for us both! I have to admit that I wasn't at my best this summer, with lots of yelling, T.V. watching and McDonald's eating, Mike couldn't come home soon enough.

The two weeks we go to spend together were fantastic! It was the summer I had in-visioned when I decided to go back to Tucson in the first place. Two weeks was just too short in my book, but I knew it was all we had so we made the best of it until Mike and the kids had to leave just a week after the baby was born.
Tess looks skeptical, but she is the happiest of them all.

Now we get back to the news that some people may have heard back in August. The International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya caught fire and through chaos, most of the international terminal burned down. Holy panic attack! Mike and the kids were supposed to fly into said burned down airport in just 1 week! Most women who've had a baby know it can be a total roller coaster of emotions and I was a hot mess. Panicking about how Mike would handle flying with all 3 kids, getting through an airport that was operating at less than 100% and not to mention be a geographically-working-single dad! You'd think I was having to do all that with how much I stressed about it. He really makes it seem like it was no big deal, but that's just because he's cool like that. I know it was very trying and couldn't be happier with my choice of husband/father to my kids! I'm sure if he had to do it over again, he would.

So, Ty, baby number 4, and I stayed in Arizona for 6 excruciatingly long weeks. Thanks to a few friends and mostly my mom and some other family, we got through it and even got all of our paperwork done with only 1 emotional crying fit to Mike and the wonderful nurses at the State Department.

With all the paperwork done, and Ty and me both cleared to fly, we jumped at our chance and arrived less than 2 weeks ago. A few days after I arrived Mike, in all his awesomeness, planned a welcome party for us to give me an opportunity to meet some people we'd be with for the next 2 years. It was planned for Saturday, September 21, early afternoon...

Now that brings us to the news lately. I imagine most people have heard at least a blurb about a shopping mall attack in Nairobi where 62 people were killed, scores more injured and a days long siege took place.

The shopping mall was named Westgate and Mike had told me we should go to this particular mall to get some grocery shopping done, because it was a bigger shop and had more of what I might be looking for. Now keep in mind, I've been in Nairobi 4 days and am extremely sleep deprived, you know new baby and jet lag, they don't mix all that well. We arrived at the mall late in the morning and got our shopping done, but after about an hour of wondering and feeling like I wasn't finding anything or feeling completely out of it, I asked Mike to just take me home. While I waited, somewhat seething, in the car while he ran back in for Ice, I watched the set up of a cooking demonstration. after waiting 15 minutes my anger was boiling over, but he finally came back and we headed home. Just after arriving back Mike started receiving phone calls about a shooting at the mall we were just at. Continuing to set up for our party, we monitored the news and he continued to get texts, emails and calls about what was really happening in the mall. Because of this, he ended up having to go to work and I hosted my own welcome party with the spouses of the officers who work with Mike. It was very nice that people still ended up coming and it was nice to be able to chat about what was going on with other people, especially since I knew no one here and would've ended up being alone during all of it.

Many people have commented about how unlucky I am to have just arrived and had this tragic attack take place, but I honestly feel lucky. Lucky to have left when we did, obviously, but more lucky and grateful that I was here to support my husband and more importantly to be here for my kids, one of whom is very well aware of what happened. No, I don't think they would've been at that mall that Saturday of the attack if I wasn't here, but it still would've happened and I wouldn't be here to take over the house while daddy had to work crazy long days.

In the end, I still feel panicky going into places here and leaving the house, but I know I have to continue to get to know Nairobi and not let these awful events rule the next 2 years of my life.