Anna is officially a Kindergartener. She is so proud. And excited. Here you see her entering “school,” which is actually in the spare bedroom of our friend Alyssa’s apartment.
For the last several weeks, Anna’s eager anticipation of kindergarten has been rising. So much so, that within five minutes of the start of kindergarten, she was so utterly excited that she quite literally fell off of her seat. Even a bump on her head could not dampen her enthusiasm, however. As she finished her first math worksheet, she beamed up at me and proclaimed, “Kindergarten is so fun!” A five-year-old with a gluestick is bound to be a happy camper.
I am more than a little afraid that my rookie homeschooling efforts are not going to live up to Anna’s high expectations. Sooner or later she is going to realize that her mother is a Kindergarten Teacher Imposter. Really, what do I know about teaching little kids how to read and subtract? Well, this will be a learning year for both of us. Thankfully we have good resources here: other homeschooling families whose children have successfully learned to read and subtract.
Jessica knows for sure that the other missionary kids can subtract, because she teaches them math. Jessica has been teaching math for the 6th/7th graders for almost a year. This year she has five students, and as seen below, she teaches her class in the “MK School Room,” which is like a library and resource-room for homeschooling families. As I snapped this picture this morning, I heard her say something about today’s topic was the commutative property of something.
Inspired by Jessica’s willingness to teach math, I agreed to teach junior high science this year. Today we attempted our first laboratory experiment. Thankfully, relative density demonstrations are generally both foolproof and impressive. A few of my five students wanted to take the experiment home to show their parents. Bless their hearts.
Lastly, Anna and Elise both attend a preschool class that another mom, Amy, teaches each day. Her daughter is three-years-old like Elise. Anna is the only kindergartener this year, so she joins in the preschool class as well, and they look forward to having another preschooler join them when his family arrives in September. Judging from the picture below, this group might not be ready for much rigorous academic learning, but they always enjoy the process.
42 years old. 10 pregnancies. No babies. Mary came to the OB ward 8 wks before her due date. She had lost 9 babies—some before birth due to bleeding or high blood pressures, some within the first day of life. She came begging us to save this one. Her blood pressure was high, and the baby was measuring small, but we admitted her to the hospital and started her on medications, including one to help her baby's lungs mature more quickly, in the extremely likely event of a pre-term delivery. After a day and a half of these medications, I did an ultrasound to look at the baby. The fluid was low, a sure sign that the placenta was starting to fail. The heartbeat was there, but no movements, despite watching for almost 30 minutes. We decided it was time.
The baby boy came out limp and floppy. As I watched the peds team work on him, I felt a growing dread—once more, we had waited too long. Mary would not be a mother, for the 10th time. But he was alive for now, and he was transferred to Eric's care in the nursery. The first few days, things did not look good. But little by little, the little boy began to improve. He started to feed, to grow, to breathe room air.
Last week, 30 days after delivery, Baby Gift (Mary's name for him) was discharged in good condition. What a blessing to be able to watch this miracle to take place! It was a double victory, as Eric and I cared for this mother and child on both ends of the spectrum.
We are pleased to announce that the McCropders will soon be adding its dozenth member, come mid-March. Eric and I are expecting McLaughlin baby #2 (even-ing out the McCropders to 4 of each family)! This will be the first baby born in Kenya, but not the first born abroad (Abi of course holds that honor)...maybe the first to hold dual citizenship? So far, all has been well and we are excited about the future. Of course, this means that we won't all fit in the Jolly Green Giant anymore...
PS Thanks to ultrasound technology, we are quite certain that the McCropders will NOT be becoming a baker's dozen in March. :)
1) Racquetball. We were quite surprised (and delighted) to discover that Tenwek has a racquetball court. Thanks to Carlan (hopeful future addition to the McCropders) and other donors, the McCropders now have their own set of rackets, goggles, and balls. This is an excellent activity that both the guys and girls enjoy. Hitting the ball as hard as you can is a great stress reliever!
2) Movies. This is a common weekend activity. A long-term missionary graciously left us his projector when he went back to the States for furlough, so now we can watch movies on the big screen. We have a hot air popcorn popper from the 80s in our kitchen, so we can come pretty close to a theater experience without the steep price tag!
3) Games. Agricola is the newest craze in the McCropder community. Surprisingly, it's probably been played more than Settlers of Catan. That's saying something.
4) Hiking. There are two common destinations when it comes to hiking -- one child-friendly and the other not so child-friendly. The child-friendly destination is the waterfall. It's about a 15-minute walk (depending on the child). John and Jason are scheming of ways to put in a zip-line or swinging rope. Please don't encourage them in this endeavor. The not so child-friendly destination is Mount Motigo. This 2-3 hour hike roundtrip offers a lovely view of the surrounding area. (The picture below shows Tenwek Hospital from the top of Mount Motigo.)
5) Personal Hobbies. Of course, each of us has our own leisure activity that we enjoy. Eric can often be heard playing his guitar. Rachel devours books. Heather and I love jigsaw puzzles. Jason is often spotted reading a surgery textbook or flipping through his Swahili flashcards. (I really think this is a leisure activity for him!) John will do whatever as long as he's around people.
6) Hanging Out. Between the hours of 5 and 6:30, you can almost always spot a group of us talking outside our building while our kids play. As people meander home from work, they join the crowd. It's a wonderful time of debriefing and fellowshipping with each other.
Fortunately, the weather here is nearly perfect (mid-70s to 80s most of the day with short periods of rain every now and then) which allows for lots of outdoor fun. The top ten favorite activities include:
1) Getting a ride in the wagon that was generously loaned to the McCropders by the Roberts family.
2) Climbing one of the trees outside our building.
3) Swinging on the swing.
4) Walking down the sidewalk to admire the 3 tortoises in the Bemm's yard. This tortoise might need to see an ophthalmologist after Micah's done with him!
5) Running around in the Kipagenga, which is basically a large oval with a cement floor and aluminum roof that is used as a basketball court and gathering place. Kipagenga means "coming together" in Kipsigis.
6) Any water-related activity.
7) Playing dress-up. Thanks Grandma Cropsey and Aunt Star for the dresses!
8) Drawing with sidewalk chalk.
9) Climbing up to the tree house (under adult supervision, of course).
10) Playing in the freshly mown grass (which leads to tremendously itchy skin if not washed immediately after).
We also took a boat to an island in Lake Naivasha where we could walk around with all those same animals.
After saying goodbye to Heather's sister and her husband, we took a night bus 15 hours from Nairobi to Kampala, Uganda, to visit my brother who is drilling/fixing water holes there with the Peace Corps. To get to my brother's house from Kampala, we took a 2 hour ride on a matatu (van with 15-23 people crunched in it) to Mubende, and then another 1 hour ride in a matatu further into the bush, and finally a 8km boda boda ride from the town to his village. Boda bodas are a popular form of transportation here which is a motorcycle with up to 4 passengers (plus the driver). In this case, the driver, Heather, Abi, and I were on one, and the driver, my brother, Anna, and our bags were on the other.
The following day we took boda bodas to a village to fix their bore hole. This time we also carried heavy tools and some 8 foot metal rods for fixing the water hole.
We returned to Kampala on Friday and then traveled 2 hours south to Lake Nabugabo, to a campsite where we met up with some of my brother's Peace Corps friends for 2 nights. We had a great time, and the lake was beautiful.
Then north again to Kampala for Sunday night, before going to Jinja Monday morning and rafting on the Nile.
Monday night was back on the night bus from Jinja to Nairobi (only 10 hours this time) and then a 3 hour trip back to Tenwek on Tuesday with our van. All in all, 48 hours of this past week were spent in various vehicles with our 2 little girls, who were excellent travelers. They especially liked the boat and the boda bodas. We are thankful for safety in all of this traveling, and we are very thankful for such a wonderful vacation with family! We will also be happy to have a break from vehicles for a while.