And so it goes here in Kenya, and everywhere in life, that goodbyes need to be said. They are hard, but we look forward to seeing everyone again within the next 6 months, which makes it easier.

First, and hardest, we said goodbye to our friends the Popps. They have been here in Kenya with us for the past 9 months. They have helped, encouraged, taught, and most importantly, delivered our little boy. Here they are for one last shot with Ben...he's about 6-7 lbs heavier than the last photo of the 3 of them together! They'll be returning to the US to work again in Ann Arbor, so we hope to see them this fall.
Maggie in particular took to the Popps' daughter, Anna. In fact, she's the first person who Maggie called by first and last name. She would wander around calling for "Anna Popp!" Anna was so sweet to play with Maggie, read her books, and push her on the swings.
The same day we said goodbye to Rachel, a short termer here for 2 months. She helped provide childcare during our week retreat at Malindi, and Mags took to her immediately. She's returning to finish an MPH degree in Kentucky, so we hope our paths cross this fall as well.
And finally, a hello AND goodbye! Mary Elizabeth, our indispensable PRP secretary, supporter, and cheerleader, came out for a brief visit to Kenya. It was SO great to see her, even if it was a brief visit. We could not do what we do here without people like her.


Time Blesses The Journey

A song about the journey itself (i.e. getting from here to there), but also about the time it takes to get there, just as a musical statement is made by the interval between two successive notes, but also by the space between the notes as well.

I read a story several years ago, that JRR Tolkien, in his elderly years as an Oxford professor, sold his car. Though it was for different reasons that I write about here, I imagine he rediscovered a few things along the way.

Time Blesses The Journey

Tolkien ambles home along a garden lane
Sold his car and then discovered once again
All the cobbles in the street
And more than that, the movements of his feet

It's been planes and elevators for too long
Until I was getting off, the windows all were drawn
So, though I've arrived, there's still
Something that I missed along the way

I've been away from this ocean town
Reminds me of all that stretches past the shore
But these points on a line remind
That time will bless the journey that's in store
As the journey blesses time

Think I can see Vespucci on the open waves
Nothing on his horizon now for days
He cuts through every blade of tide
And sails under every inch of sky

I've been afraid of these mountain views
All of the heights that still are left to climb
But these points on a line remind
That time will bless the journey that's in store
As the journey blesses time

So the hour sits behind the tutor's desk
Dons the Oxford robe and teaches me the rest
That much will come and go
That much will collide and then fade away


May Update

I feel we have been rather remiss in blogging recently...between 3 blogs and facebook updates, our old friend "The Adventures of Eric and Rachel" gets rather neglected at times. Looking at our sidebar blog roll, it appears we are in good company. :) Well, there hasn't been a whole lot to blog about in the past month, but here's what we've been up to.

I have enjoyed staying home these past few months. It's back to work for me in June, but in the meantime it's been fun to watch both Ben and Maggie grow and change. Ben topped the scales at 14#5oz at 9 wks when we brought him in for a check up. He smiles all the time and has even started laughing. Other developments are taking their time (I think because his head is so big) but he is sleeping well at night, for 7-8 hours at a stretch. Maggie's vocabulary grows by the day and it's fun to watch her develop new interests in things like coloring, stickers, play doh, and carrying her dolls and animals around. She puts everything down for "naps" on a regular basis. Wonder where she got that idea?

Eric has been rotating on the peds and medicine services, and this month branched out into my world! He is spending a few days each week learning some basic C-section skills. He also got a chance to go out with the hospice team into the villages and watch how the chaplains minister to people at the end of their lives.
One of the chaplains involved in the hospice program
A traditional Kipsigis hut seen out in the villages
My mom arrives in just 1 1/2 more weeks! She'll be staying for a month and we are soooo excited to see her and introduce (or reintroduce) the kids to "gamma."

Our plane tickets are purchased for the homeward bound leg of our 2 year adventure here. The McLaughlin feet will be back on US soil on Sept 9. Maggie has started packing for the journey already (see picture below). We still have four months here at Tenwek but I'm sure the time will fly. Then the plan will be to travel, visit friends and family, get some tropical medicine training for Eric, and support raise through summer of 2012. By August 2012 we hope to be headed off to Albertville, France, for French language school, and then Burundi by summer of 2013. It's been great to watch God's hand directing us to just the right places these past few years. The Faders and Alyssa just took a trip to Burundi to get a more in-depth look at our future workplace. You can read about it here.


Smiley Ben

And because we couldn't just post video of Maggie and not her little brother, we thought we'd share a couple of Ben videos. He's been sick lately, and not so smiley, but these are from a few weeks ago.


Awkward Children's Tales

Maggie has a lot of great books. We spend a lot of time reading them. Some of the best of them are true "classics", which I guess means that they're pretty old, and yet still awesome to read.

They also contain things that would be extremely unlikely to be published today. Take Curious George for example:
"After a good meal, and a good pipe, George felt very tired."

Or below a page from Good Night, Little Bear, by the famous Richard Scarry.
Oh Mother, you are such a tease. And last but not least is the wealth of Beatrix Potter stories, which are pretty much uniformly wonderful in this regard. Below is Jemima Puddle-duck, and a little context is needed: Jemima wanted to hatch her own eggs, so she ran away into the forest to do so, where she is befriend by a fox, posing as a friend, but planning on eating her and her eggs. The ending? Jemima is rescued by several farm dogs, who save Jemima, but in their excited frenzy, also eat all her eggs. Redemption comes in the last page, as seen below.
She had always been a bad sitter. The End.

Do I take a delight in these non-PC moments? Obviously, I do. Why? I think it's because these classic stories preserve for the next generation the knowledge that, for better or worse, society has not always thought and behaved like it currently does, nor is it likely to remain like this indefinitely. Any other examples spring to mind?


Always Talking

For Mother's Day this year, I made a video for our moms of Maggie's second year of life...lots of pictures set to music, with a few video clips interspersed. The video ended with a 2 minute clip of Maggie talking over the past year. We thought you might enjoy the talking clip (the whole video is too big to load). She certainly does, asking to watch it by name (apple juice? apple juice? pees, mommy?).


A Very Veggie Birthday

Well, our little girl has completed her second trip around the sun. Maggie turned 2 years old on Sunday. I'm sure everyone says this about their kids, but she has changed SO MUCH this year! Maggie's favorite thing in the world is watching "Bob" on a daily basis (she also likes "M's," her words for M&Ms, any other form of candy, and I like to think Mommy and Daddy, but I think Bob still wins out). We own 3 Veggie Tales DVDs and she gets to pick one to watch every afternoon after her nap. So it seemed only logical that her birthday would have a Veggie Tales theme. I use the term theme loosely. Here in Kenya, it's not like I can run to the party store and pick out cups, plates, and wall hangings in a given genre. So, when I say theme, I mean "birthday cake."

My disclaimer is that I have no formal cake decorator training. I never made cakes before I came to Kenya, and I almost never make them here. I did try my hand at a 2 layer birthday cake for Mags last year, which was sort of sloped and needed a lot of frosting to hold it together...I'm not sure why I thought that this qualified me to be able to make a themed cake for my daughter's second birthday, but I jumped in with both feet.

Using some ideas online, I decided to make Bob as an 8 inch round yellow cake, and Larry as a 9x13 chocolate cake and cut off the edges. Some of the misadventures included forgetting the baking powder in the yellow cake until it had been in the oven for 10 minutes, and the chocolate cake sticking to the pan when I flipped it onto the cookie sheet to cool (and then sticking to the cookie sheet when I flipped it back over onto the foil-covered cardboard I put the cakes on. Again, lots of frosting has the ability to hold cakes together. And I have no access to decorator frosting, so decided to just put the facial features on construction paper and lay them on the cakes. But here is the finished product:

Not bad, huh? It was all worth it when I put Mags up next to the cake and she recognized the characters, exclaiming, "Bob! Cake!" We had about 20 people over for the party (meaning, come and eat some cake), and they all watched as Maggie tried to blow out the 2 candles. This was unsuccessful, despite Eric practicing the candle blowing with her earlier in the day, so I stepped in to help.
This is what happened (also note that only one candle was blown out by me):
Oh, the danger of construction paper faces. No one seemed too traumatized, though, and there were no tears, and the cakes didn't taste too bad.
Happy Birthday, Maggie!