Potty Time!

The first time I tried to potty train Ella was a few months ago, right before her 2nd birthday. I looked her straight in the eye and said, “Look kiddo, you are a grown ass woman. This diaper business ends today” And that was that. Well, not exactly, but that was the gist of the talk.


Then I went at it guns blazing, commando-style; I left her sans diaper for an entire day.


It. Was. A. Disaster. She peed everywhere, NONSTOP. Seriously, how much pee can the bladder of a 2-year-old hold? I’ll tell you, A LOT. I spent that whole day mopping up little puddles of pee around the house. I offered her reminders, begged her, bribed her and even threatened her, to no avail. She just peed at will, without an ounce of remorse. She wasn’t even trying.


After a few days spent cleaning up pee puddles around the house, I accepted that she just wasn’t ready and decided to try again in a few months.


Fast forward to the beginning of this year.  I made a few cautious attempts at getting her to use the potty and lo and behold! She took to it. And I’m thrilled…sort of.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m uber excited that we’ve reached this milestone. And super proud of my little girl for getting here. But OMG, is potty training a lot of work or what? Fact: Toddlers pee A LOT. I feel like I’m always taking her to the potty. And when I do, it’s never, EVER a calm affair. It usually goes something like this:


Me (noticing her shifting around awkwardly): Ella, do you need to go potty?

Ella: NO.

And then, 5 minutes later…



Followed by a mad dash to the potty. Most of the time we make it but sometimes we don’t. When we don’t make it in time and she pees on herself, she cries HYSTERICALLY. I try to tell her that it’s ok but more often than not, she’s inconsolable. She is especially distraught if she happened to be wearing a “princess dress” (To Ella, any dress or skirt is a “princess dress”). She will NOT calm down until she is all cleaned up and wearing another “princess dress”. EXHAUSTING.


There is also the issue of peeing at inopportune moments. The pee monster could strike at ANYTIME. In a traffic jam, in the dead of the night, in the middle of a juicy Downton Abbey episode… ANY. TIME.


Here’s a question: Have you ever taken a toddler with you into a public restroom? IT. SUCKS. Here’s thing, toddlers are insane little curious things. They want to touch everything.


In a public restroom, a toddler’s brain is all like: “Oh, look! A roll of toilet paper! Does it float? Let me throw it in this here toilet and find out!” Or “Wow! What’s this brown interesting looking puddle on the restroom floor? Does it taste good? Hmm, let’s see!”


Meanwhile, mommy’s brain is going: “I. WILL. DIE. IF. SHE. TOUCHES. ANYTHING. This place is positively crawling with germs. Why didn’t I carry gloves?! I should buy her some gloves. Do they make little plastic gloves for kids? Like the ones on C.S.I? Well they should, because – NOOOO, HONEY DON’T TOUCH THAAAAT!!”


Aaaah, the joys of potty training.


Anyway, let me not complain. This is par for the course. Like Ella, I’m going to put on my big girl panties and soldier on.


Goodbye Pampers!




Posted in Ella, Milestones | Comments closed

Nairobi. Two months in.

Surprise, surprise… I didn’t post my update when I said I would. Sorry. Again. I feel like I’m always apologizing to you guys for one thing or another. OMG! Is this what husbands feel like?! LOL. Sucks to be them.


Can we just accept that I’m a mess? And have a standing forgive and forget policy? Great.


So, we’re still in Nairobi and still loving it. This relocation was long overdue. I’ve been homesick for the past 5 years. I mean, the U.S. is great and all but I missed my family WAY too much. And when Ella was born my homesickness went into overdrive. There’s something about having a child that makes you cherish your family roots even more.


I had missed having sisters to borrow shoes from, nephews and nieces to love on, parents to teach “the facebook” to, …I HAD MISSED EVERYTHING. And so, after being in the U.S. for 10 years (10! YEARS!) I finally left.


Ella seems really happy with the move. She gets to spend all day outside, playing with her cousin. Infact, I’ve had to get used to changing her clothes several times a day. Yes, she gets THAT dirty. It’s pretty awesome. She also gets to be loved on by her grandparents, aunties and uncles. And that’s pretty awesome too.


I hired a nanny (in preparation for when I start working) and she has quick become Ella’s best buddy. They bonded instantaneously. Ella’s nanny is actually the daughter of the lady who was MY nanny when I was a child. And she genuinely seems to enjoy playing with kids (see tweet below).



We still have a ways to go before we’re settled (finding work and a place to live being top priorities). But so far, so good.

Posted in Life Change, Nairobi, Nanny | Comments closed

Happy New Year and Greetings from Nairobi!

Happy New Year and Greetings from Nairobi! Ok, I know it has been AGES since my last post and I totally understand if you think I suck at life for that …BUT! I have a good excuse! Well, sort of a good excuse…WE’VE PERMANENTLY RELOCATED TO NAIROBI! So you seeeeee, I’m not *that* bad.

My last couple of months in the U.S were spent hurriedly trying to pack my entire life into 5 measly suitcases. MY ENTIRE LIFE! It was so hard, you guys. (I hope my attempts at earning your sympathy/forgiveness are working. No? Read on.)

And then! My flight over here with Ella was ABSOLUTE HELL. (Ella and I had to go ahead of Dr. Science because his work schedule wouldn’t allow him to leave as early as we wanted to). FACT: An international flight with a 2 year old is a very effective form of torture, used somewhere in the world, I’m sure. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. At one point during the trip, about 10 hours in, I almost opened the emergency door of the plane and hurled myself out. It. Was. That. Bad.

To start with, Ella did not sleep a wink during the 2 day journey. Actually, CORRECTION, she slept for approximately 10 minutes at the very start of the first flight. I was lucky enough to catch this fleeting moment of peace…

Trying to keep a toddler under control during a long flight (let alone 2!) should be an Olympic sport. It didn’t help that she wasn’t interested in the in-flight entertainment. And there is no amount of storybook reading, coloring, singing or wine that can compensate for the decreased mobility of a toddler on a plane. Forget what you heard. It just sucks, for everyone involved.

To add to the general misery of the trip, I thought it clever to bring all of the following with us as hand luggage:

1. a stroller

2. a portable crib

3. an infant duvet

4. a large purse

5. a stuffed Elmo

6. a stuffed Big Bird

7. a Dora The Explorer backpack full of toys and diapers AND

8. a small suitcase

It was a DISASTER. On one of my layovers it took me 2 hours to reach my connecting gate because I had way too much to carry (DUH!) and a toddler who (after being cramped on the plane) just wanted to run wildly through the airport. DI-SAS-TER. I could go on and on about how generally nightmarish the trip was but I think you catch my drift. I WOULD TAKE SNAKES ON A PLANE OVER A TODDLER ON A PLANE ANYDAMNDAY. There. The end.

Anyway, thousands of miles and many tears (all mine) later, we arrived at our final destination: NAIROBI! And I am so, so, SO happy to be living here again!

*Oops… this relocation might seem very sudden and random, so I’ll fill you in on why we’ve left the U.S AND how we’re settling down in Nairobi next week!

Posted in Life Change, Nairobi, Relocation | Comments closed

Happy Halloween

Hurray for the change of seasons! Listen, I love the summer and all, but that heat? It was beginning to get to me. I had missed my fuzzy socks and knee-high boots and hot drinks from Starbucks. And unlike the Winter (which I detest with every fiber of my being), I find Fall to be quite pleasant and pretty.

Overkill with the winter jacket AND snow boots? Probably.

This past weekend we introduced Ella to Halloween. We figured that she’s old enough to enjoy the holiday’s festivities. BOY, WERE WE WRONG. First of all, let me put out this disclaimer: I never grew up celebrating Halloween and know precious little about this holiday. But then I thought, well, this might be our last Halloween in the U.S, so Ella should at least have some photos of herself “trick or treating” in costume.

COSTUME – this is where the disaster that was Halloween began. Many moms start planning their kids’ costumes months in advance. Many moms lovingly craft intricate, creative costumes from scratch. I am NOT one of those moms. I drove to the nearest store and bought the first thing I saw.

Unsurprisingly, I waited until one hour before we left for the “trick or treating” to see if the costume fit. It didn’t.

It’s too small. She knows it. She’s not impressed.

Despite the wardrobe malfunction, we pressed on with the festivities. When we arrived at the venue, the “trick or treating” was in full swing and the place was packed with kids. Kids in costumes.  And masks. Lots of masks. It was at this point that we discovered that Ella is TERRIFIED of masks. And, every single over-achieving mother in this doggone town decided that no child’s costume was complete without a mask. It was a tear-filled disaster. We lasted about 30 minutes before scooping up our scared toddler and heading back home.

It wasn’t all bad though. We got a decent amount of candy. I should say *I* got a decent amount of candy because Ella isn’t old enough to recognize candy for what it is (life is not fair, is it?). I couldn’t wait for her to go to bed so I could dig in. BUT THEN (!) she decided that she loved her bucket (BUCKET!) so much that she wanted to sleep with it. WITH ALL THE CANDY STILL INSIDE.

I had to wait until she fell asleep and then creep into her room like a common criminal and steal rescue the bucket from her death grip. Seriously. I had to pry her miniature fingers off the handle one by one. I was successful though and made away with the loot.

Aaaaah. Not bad for 30 minutes.

All in all, let’s just say that it was an experience. Photos were taken, tears were shed and memories were made.

Oh! Before I forget! It wouldn’t be Halloween without a pumpkin and Dr. Science carved one up. Surprise, surprise, it was science themed. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you “H1N1″.



Posted in Ella, Holiday | Comments closed

On the Farm

Ella is fearless when it comes to animals. Also? I think she was a farmer in a previous life. We took her to see some farm animals this summer and I’m pretty sure that given a choice, she would have chosen to live with them permanently.

"Niiiiiiice goat. Gooood goat"


She also took it upon herself to offer some free pet grooming to EVERY animal in sight.



"These pigs? They don't smell too good."


Good times.

Posted in Ella, Trip | Comments closed

“Hell called. It wants its weather back.”

The heat this summer has been nothing short of hellish. What other word would you use to describe 42°C heat? HELL-ISH I tell you.

I hate to keep Ella cooped up in the house all day long, so we fill up the water bottles, lather on the sunscreen and brave the heat…at least for a while.

It usually starts out superbly: we’re thrilled to be outside … chomping on watermelon, communing with nature and whatnot.

Happy happy, joy joy!


Every so often, we’ll turn on the hose in a last-ditch effort to revive the deteriorating lawn. Our region is in the middle of the worst drought in decades. Our lawn has not been spared. It has been scorched to the point of no return. The other day I thought I saw a cactus growing in the corner. All we can do now is pray…

A prayer for our dearly departed lawn


After a couple of hours we’re usually boiling hot, dripping with sweat and ready to go indoors. You know the heat is unbearable when your toddler walks up to you and says, “All done outside!” and then starts chanting, “House, house!”

Oh, summer!  Why do you punish us so?!

Posted in Daily Routine, Ella | Comments closed

What’s Cooking?

Ella has a love/hate relationship with her little play kitchen. Luckily, it was all love on this day; she spent a good chunk of time wearing oven mitts and lovingly pottering around with her pans.

On the other hand, when their relationship is rocky (for reasons known only to her) she systematically hurls all her utensils onto the floor before proceeding to rip the entire kitchen set apart.  These moments are quite fascinating to watch…in a scary, my-daughter-might-be-psycho sort of way.

Posted in Ella | Comments closed

Breastfeeding Diet

Forget Atkins. Forget South Beach. Forget Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and any other diet you’ve ever heard of. BREASTFEEDING is the best weight-loss program this planet has ever known. It’s as if Mother Nature was like,

Hey, moms. I know you just had to grow a baby human in your body and deal with nausea, heartburn, sleepless nights, compressed bladders, swollen feet, stretch marks,  NOT TO MENTION LABOUR and the joys of life with a newborn. So here, take this miraculous gift – the gift of doing nothing but breastfeeding and watching as the pounds melt away with every late night feeding. You’re welcome.

Yes. Thank you, Mother Nature. My body looooved breastfeeding.  I was the smallest I have ever been in my adult life while I was breastfeeding. And then about a year after giving birth, I stopped breastfeeding… and promptly gained 5 kg (10 lbs).

After several months of denial, I have come to the sad conclusion that I have no choice but to begin a life of regular exercise and healthy eating. Woe is me.

I begun last week and all in all, I am quite proud of myself for sticking with it. Mind you, my gym is located on an undergraduate college campus that is swarming with tall, skinny Dutch-American blondes in their prime. I think that alone should earn me some extra points, MOTHER NATURE (If you’re listening).

And that is that. Healthy living will be the story of my life until I have another baby and proceed to breastfeed the child until he/she is about 8.  JUST KIDDING. I’ll probably have to stop when primary school starts…you know, differing schedules…

Posted in Breastfeeding, Healthy Living | Comments closed

High Five!

Ella’s love for inanimate objects knows no bounds. She will offer her hearty salutations to just about anything – spoons, cars, books – ANYTHING!


Last week, she walked up to a statue, held her hand up high and shouted, “High five!”


She stood there for a while with her hand suspended high above her head, demanding high fives from the statue until finally, she marched forward impatiently and gave its outstretched hand a slap.


Because nobody leaves Ella hanging, not even the dead, buried and immortalized in stone.

Posted in Ella | Comments closed

My Better Half

Something amazing is happening this week. After 7 long, long, loooooong years my husband is FINALLY graduating from grad school. Yes LAWD! It has been a struggle y’all. A struggle! I feel like MY name should be on that damn diploma. Surely, there should be an associate PhD degree for spouses! Or an honorable mention! At least a footnote on the certificate acknowledging all the tireless hours spent encouraging, cheering and even consoling when an experiment failed, or a mouse inexplicably died*!

I guess I should pause at this juncture to formally introduce my husband, let’s call him Mr. Science…or better yet… Dr. Science (HALLELUJAH!). Dr. Science is a card-carrying biology geek; he likes long walks on the beach and has been in grad school for the past 100 years. Or so.

When I say he’s a biology geek, I do mean it. Please take a gander at exhibits A through C below. These are all objects that decorate his office. These are his office DECORATIONS, people.


And posted on his door, some geek humor:

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my better half – Dr. Science. And he’s officially graduating on Friday! Yay!


*A word about laboratory mice, I am usually the one that needed the consoling after hearing about the demise of his mice. Oh, here’s a bit of trivia for you, the technical term for killing lab mice is Sacrificing or Sacking for short. As in, the mice are sacrificed for the greater good of scientific research. (Suuuure scientists, if it makes you sleep better at night) Here’s how a typical conversation between me and Dr. Science would go:

Dr. Science: I had to sack 26 mice today.

Me: *dramatic gasp* Noooooo. That’s so mean! Whyyyyy?

Dr. Science: They were too sick.

Me: But it’s YOU *fiercely pointing at him* who made them sick!

Dr. Science: Yes. Yes, I did.

Me: But why do you have to give them horrible diseases and then KILL them?! Why do you have to test on poor animals! *bottom lip quivering*

Dr. Science: What would you rather we do? Start testing on humans?

Me: No, but-

Dr. Science: Would you like to volunteer yourself?


Me: So, what do you want for dinner hun?

Posted in Dr. Science | Comments closed
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