Saturday, September 20, 2014

Photo Fridays: Week 50

It's Friday once again.  Mom did have to remind me to post the blog too.  Thanks mom.  Here is a brief recap of our trip home:

Here is Greg waiting for our flight from Port Moresby to Brisbane.  He looks a little miserable for having just started a long journey, right?  Well, he had a 102 degree temperature at this point, and our first hour or so in the Port Moresby airport was less than ideal.  I needed medical clearance to fly while pregnant on this airline, and although we had taken the correct steps beforehand to get the clearance, somehow the news didn't make it to the good folks at the check-in counter.  So we had to wait in the busy, hot check-in area for over an hour while phone calls were made and the miscommunication straightened out.  Thankfully we had plenty of time before our flight.

Greg's fever turned out to be just a 24-hour thing that never presented with any other symptoms, for which we were grateful.

We spent two nights in Brisbane, Australia.  We had originally planned to take the boys to a wildlife park, but decided not to because Greg was still feeling sick and Caleb was pretty stressed out by all of the changes and travel.

We fell back on an old standby - the thrill of public transportation for little boys who don't normally get to ride in buses and trains.  You can see that Caleb looks pretty serious.  He was uncharacteristically clingy and would cry at the drop of a hat.  Poor kid was totally overwhelmed by the city.

We traveled to Southbank, a nice area along the river with gardens, parks and shops.  It was good to let the boys run and play.  Personally, I just couldn't get over how nice and clean and well-groomed everything was.  One thing we don't get much of in PNG is well-kept public spaces in cities.

Waiting for the train to go back to the flat where we were staying.

Wednesday was our longest day, with three flights and crossing the International Date Line.  We flew from Bisbane to Nadi, Fiji, then to Los Angeles and finally to Denver.

With five hours in Fiji, we left the airport and walked to a nearby hotel for dinner.  (The boys were very disappointed that they didn't get to swim).

 On the longest flight (10 hours) from Fiji to LA.  We changed the boys into their pajamas before we got onto the plane, but they got to watch an episode of Bananas in Pajamas (pronounced with an Australian accent, Greg insists, because he's never seen the American version) before going to sleep.

By the time we got to LAX, you can bet we were ready to get home to Colorado to see my parents.  The boys, who had traveled fairly well all things considered, were starting to fall apart.  However, we discovered that our flight to Denver had been canceled because of the merger between two airlines.  They could book us on another flight of course, but it wouldn't leave until 8:30 in the evening.  That meant we had another five hours before we could board our next airplane.  I felt like crying.

 The boys decided to play in the carry-on measuring thingy while we spent about an hour getting re-ticketed.  There were a few points where I felt about ready to send one or the both of them as checked luggage!

 Brian held us all together however, and convinced me to leave the airport for the sake of mental health.  We took a taxi down to the beach.  It was perfect weather.  Walking around the beach while carrying your carry-on baggage isn't ideal, but thankfully there were other diversions, including a small aquarium that the boys loved, and some ice cream cones.

 Now we are at my parents' house in Fort Collins, and are working at getting over jet lag and seeing relatives that we haven't seen for a long time.  Here is Caleb with Grandpa.  We were really impressed at the work my folks had done, putting up a temporary wall and cleaning out their basement so that our family could have our own space.

I have more photos I could include, but we have more family coming over tonight, so I'll leave it at that.  'Till next time!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Photo Fridays: Week 49

I woke up this (Saturday) morning to an indignant email from my mother, wanting to know where her Photo Friday post was.  I admit, I completely forgot.  You would think that I had other stuff on my mind or something... like packing up my house and imminent international travel.  Oh well.  The good news for me is that it's still Friday in the US, even though now my mom has had to wait until afternoon to see photos of her grandsons, instead of seeing them before breakfast.  Mom, I'll be writing my next Photo Friday from your house, and you'd better remind me to do it too because I'll be jet-lagged.  I don't want to be getting indignant emails from my mother-in-law!

 Some friends held a baby shower for me.  It was so nice... and even for a third child. Third babies aren't supposed to get anything, right?  I'll miss these ladies.

Greg takes his trike riding seriously.  We have to walk down the block to a cement basketball court to ride, since all our roads are dirt/rock.

 Greg had one last play date with his Swedish buddy.  Final goodbyes to be said at Sunday School tomorrow.

 These boys were running around so fast it was about impossible to get a photo of them.  I love this one though.  They were always playing with dandelions.  Greg's friend has a great imagination and was always coming up with play scenarios for them.

The boys had a blast jumping on the trampoline the rain.

For those of you who heard via Facebook that Caleb was starting to get sick, it never amounted to much.  Thanks for praying!   I will be very grateful to travel with a healthy family.  Oh, and happy 2nd birthday to this guy today!!  We aren't going to celebrate until we get back to the States though.  I don't have the mental capacity to manage a birthday party this weekend too!

Yesterday I handed my DSLR camera to an eager High School student.  After saving up some Christmas and birthday money this last year, I finally ordered a new camera, which is waiting for me in America.  The High School yearbook staff really needed a new camera, and so my old one will be taking photos of school events from now on.  I admit, I will feel a bit naked traveling without my camera.  Our point-and-shoot is pretty much dead.  It will be coming back to the US with us for warranty repair.  We do have one very old point-and-shoot camera to travel with, so hopefully I'll have some travel photos for you next week.

Knowing I'd be giving up my camera soon, I still managed to fit in two family photo shoots for friends here this week.  Waaaaaaay more fun than packing and cleaning house!

So, today is Saturday.  Early Monday morning we'll fly to Port Moresby and then to Brisbane, Australia, where we'll spend two nights.  Then on the 17th it will be three flights, to Fiji, Los Angeles, and Denver.

Pray for a nice sunny day tomorrow so that I can get all my sheets and towels washed a dried!

Until next week, when you get to see what kind of things a jet-lagged traveler blogs about....

Friday, September 5, 2014

Photo Fridays: Week 48

Hello again friends.  Here is a recap of our week in pictures:

Last Friday a volcano, Mt. Tavurvur, erupted.  [photo credit: T. Wilson]   It's located on the eastern end of the island of New Britain, which is part of Papua New Guinea.  It's a long way from where we live in the highlands on the mainland, so we didn't notice anything here.  We do have a regional center and some staff on the island, but they are all safe.

The boys' newest game on the trampoline involves bouncing off shoes.  Whoever's shoe is the last on the trampoline wins.

We don't always have to make all our goodies from scratch - sometimes we let someone else do it!  An enterprising teenager has started a donut business, and he takes orders and delivers most Saturday mornings.  Yes, the delivery box is a discarded box from the store, but I was quite impressed that he took the time to paint the boxes and stick a logo on them!
And don't they look yummy?

Watching dad return from his trip to Indonesia on Monday.  Greg has decided that when he grows up, he wants to be an airplane mechanic.  (I think perhaps this is due in part to that gate with the sign you see in the picture, which he is not allowed to cross unless he is getting on an airplane.  If he were a mechanic, he would be able to be on the other side of the gate...)

I had my camera with me in the back yard, and Caleb plopped himself down on the grass in this pose, saying "take me!"  (i.e. "take my picture")

 And then he decided that watching the clouds was more fun.

This is what the bridge to Kainantu looked like this morning.  Brian and I hoped to get to town to buy a few things, but we weren't able to drive across because the excavator on the far side was working on the road.  Not wanting to leave our truck without someone to watch it, we decided not to walk across and do our shopping.  Perhaps we'll try another day.  You can see the work that is being done on both banks next to the bridge to prepare the permanent footings.

Only ten more days until we board one of those little Kodiak airplanes to start our trip back to the States to see my brother get married and to meet Baby Frey.  I can't believe we're at this point already! 

Oh, and I also wanted to mention that I've started a photography website:
While we are in the States, I'm going to be doing portrait sessions to help offset some of the costs of this trip home.  If you know someone in CO or OR who might be interested, feel free to pass the link on.
Until next week...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Photo Fridays: Week 47

The photos are few this week, as I've been doing the single mom thing while Brian is away at a work conference.

This past weekend we participated in a family Bible camp held by our church here in Ukarumpa.  At the end of the weekend, five young people made the decision to be baptized, and so we gathered at the river on Sunday morning to witness.

Two girls watch their friend being baptized.

A father helps to baptize his son.

I just love the expressions of joy on the faces of father and son.

Of course, Greg couldn't wait until it was over so that he could splash in the water with the rest of the kids.  As you can see by the jackets, it was a bit on the chilly side, but that didn't seem to phase any of the kids.

On Monday we took Brian to the airstrip and waved goodbye as he flew away.  He is currently in Jakarta, Indonesia to represent our organization at a regional conference.

Brian thinks it's funny to send me photos of good food that he is getting to eat and modern shopping malls and things like that.

 Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I am enjoying a week of minimal cooking with Brian gone.  I made a big pot of soup for myself at the beginning of the week, and have been feeding the boys simple meals.  Still, we are looking forward to having him back home in a few days!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Photo Fridays: Week 46

Our week started off with a visit to the bouncy castle - a rare treat that was brought out for a 9th grade fundraiser.

Because of Caleb's afternoon nap, we only made it to the school in time for one 5-minute stint in the bouncy castle, but I made it up to them with some cotton candy (another treat that only comes out a few times a year)

I think he likes it.

Caleb wearing daddy's hat.

Greg's new specialty meal, the "funny bun," as he calls it.  It's a sandwich with peanut butter, jam, and ketchup.  Sounds gross to me, but I can't complain about the fact that my never-eats-protein-without-a-fuss preschooler is now regularly eating peanut butter. 

 Today Greg's preschool class had a little program to show the parents what they are learning.

 Greg and some of the other boys.

 Friday is the day when parents can come and have a picnic lunch with their kids at the primary campus.    This little boy with Greg has rapidly become his best school friend over the past month.  They are pretty inseparable.  Unfortunately, his family will be returning to Sweden while we are in the U.S. having our baby.  Who knows when they will see each other again?  Such is the life of an MK....

Friday, August 15, 2014

Photo Fridays: Week 45

Hello again!  We'll start with a quick update on the bridge situation.  (See last week's post.)  The old bridge has been removed, but they had to tear up the bank considerably in order to remove it.  Some work is being done to prepare for a new bridge.

In the meantime, you have the option of crossing one of these homemade foot bridges 
(for a modest fee, of course). [photo: Adam Boyd]

How are we planning to get supplies across the river?  Check out this video below that Brian took this week.  The owners of a local coffee plantation have rigged up this "Flying Fox" in order to transport their coffee to the warehouse.  They have made an arrangement with our organization to allow us to use it for shipping our own cargo.  Brian and another man went into town to test it out this week (that's when the video was taken), and tomorrow he will be going back to town with some others to unload and transport two 10-foot containers of food that are waiting on the Kainantu side of the river.


In other "news":
 This bridge is part of a play structure at the primary school.  Racing across the bridge is a must-do activity whenever we pick up Greg from preschool.

 Caleb was helping me scout out good spots for taking portraits, as I had the opportunity to take family photos for a few friends this week.


 And this is the view from my living room, as the smell of decking oil permeates the house.  Re-finishing the porch steps and railings was another project that we really wanted to take care of before we leave.

That's all for this week!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Photo Fridays: Week 44

Well, the BIG news this week is that the Kingston bridge finally fell into the river.  (And did it rather spectacularly too, I might add.)

 About 7am on Wednesday (6 Aug 2014) a commercial fuel tanker attempted to cross the Kingston Bridge traveling from Kainantu towards the Aiyura Valley (where we live). While the truck was on the bridge the bridge collapsed under the load. Both the bridge and the truck fell into the river below. Reports are that the driver is okay, but we have no further information on his condition.

(bridge photos by Andrew Koens)

So what's the big deal?  Well... this bridge was kind of our only connection with the rest of the country by road.  So at the moment, we're stuck.  Thankfully, we all knew this was going to happen one day, and contingency plans have been talked about for years.  Check out this post Brian wrote over two years ago the last time that the bridge almost collapsed.

Brian and I were actually planning to drive into Kainantu that same morning to stock up on dog food and some other supplies (we can buy dog food for half the price in town), but our plans were dashed by an early-morning phone call.

All in all, our situation is not terrible.  Our store had just received a huge shipment of food, so we won't starve.  Our fuel supply is limited, and so fuel sales are being rationed, but we don't really have anywhere to drive to, now do we?  We still have our airplanes, and can fly people and supplies if needed to and from other parts of the country.  A replacement bridge has actually been purchased and just needs to be installed, although we have no idea how long that might take.  Let's just say that Brian and I aren't expecting to drive to Kainantu again before we leave for the U.S. in September.

Please pray that the new bridge would be installed quickly (and properly)!

In other, more mundane news:

The boys enjoyed splashing in their friend's backyard kiddie pool.

 Caleb came up to me one day with this bookend and said, "Look mom - chainsaw!"  He has been carving up our whole house with it this week.

 My last two weeks have been dominated by trying to paint the baby's room.   It's hard to paint with two little kids at home and a husband who, through no fault of his own, has been swamped at work and unable to help.   It's almost done - I still have to finish painting the trim and baseboards.  The old paint (top) was a peeling purple color over green.  It had to be scraped and sanded down before I could paint.  Thankfully a friend came over to help a bit with that tedious part.  I now finally have the walls painted, with a special shade I like to call "leftover paint from living room" because we're trying to do this on the cheap.  I'm going to be giddy once this silly project is done and I can get down to what this pregnant lady really wants to do: get the baby things out of the attic and set it all up for the new baby! 

 Ahh.. the brothers play so nicely together.  (Were they fighting over the "chainsaw?")  Actually, I'm pretty sure Caleb was laughing when I took this photo.  They do place nicely most of the time.

 Caleb fell in the mud yesterday when we were walking Greg to preschool.  All was well again when he discovered some big, muddy rocks to carry home though.  This boy loves rocks and sticks!