Friday, June 27, 2014

Stroll through Switzerland

Today was spent at Ballenberg - a open-air museum showcasing architecture and crafts from old time rural Switzerland. I appreciated how well done all the exhibits and demonstrations were. A sampling of what we saw was bread making, textile weaving, sculpting, chocolate making, woodworking, making musical instruments, etc. The setting was magnificent, nestled in a valley surrounded by the Swiss alps with waterfalls cascading down.

Here's a short video with mom and daughter learning to weave on a loom and some of the cool machinery in action.

sawing off a piece of wood in the shape of Switzerland

On our way back to town we happened across the longest playground slide ever - it was like a real-life version of Chutes & Ladders!

The view was also real nice.

Normally we have been eating at the apartment we rented (since even a pizza costs north of $20) but tonight we 'splurged' by getting burgers and falafels at the cheapest place in town. Afterwards we wandered through the streets and enjoyed a glass of wine while the kids clambered over another playground.
lovely walk after dinner in Sarnen
Tomorrow we are off to Tuscany!

Hiking the Alps

Today we ventured about 20 minutes up the mountains from our farm stay. Here there is a resort called Melchsee-Frutt. After a gorgeous gondola ride up from the parking area we found a fun playground.

It was hard to drag the kids away from it but finally we took another ride up past a couple alpine lakes and then hiked our way back down.
Later in the afternoon Ruby got her chance to watch the owners of our farm stay do the evening milking and she even joined in.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Luvin' Lucerne

After a lazy, easy-going morning on the farm we headed off to Lucerne for a couple hours of sightseeing. It's a gorgeous city, right on a lake with a lot of medieval buildings and wooden bridges crossing the Reuss River. After a yummy picnic lunch of amazing cheese, smoked fish, baguettes and LOTS of fruit we headed off to wander.

ahh cold, clear, and SAFE drinking water -
right out of the fountains
famous wooden bridge and watch tower

The kids were able to get their ya-yas out too on the street art...

After our explore around Lucerne we headed to a glass factory. Here we had a grand time, the kids did glass blowing... It will be interesting to see if we are actually able to bring this glass bubble home in one piece after 6 weeks through five countries!

watching the tradesmen make glass

finding our way through a glass labyrinth - only 2 hurt noses and foreheads!

2 story high marble run

water cannons

controlling your own water fountains

Arrival to Switzerland!

After a 2+ hour slow crawl through rush hour Nairobi traffic and a 8 hour crowded overnight flight to Zurich we made it to Switzerland at 6:30am in the morning. Somehow we found the energy to do a bit of sightseeing in town before heading out to the countryside. We loved the super smooth roads that got us to our farm stay about 30 minutes south of Lucerne. The place is quite comfortable, we are staying on the top floor of a farm house and the family was very friendly as they showed us their cows.
the troops were none too happy with me on the choice
to take the train to our rental car pick-up instead of a taxi!
things got better after some lunch!
Uncle Kenny was missed!
took a short river boat ride

for four nights we are staying on a farm in the Alps
- there are the views from our apartment

Monday, June 23, 2014

Goodbye to Margaret

In just about 2 hours we head to the airport for our departure from Nairobi. We all feel a bit bittersweet - happy that we are about to embark on a new chapter in our lives and proud that we had this amazing experience and opportunity to experience life in Kenya. On the sad side we just said good-bye to Margaret. She has been such a rock in our life since she started with us a year and a half ago. In the beginning we weren't sure at all how it would be with full-time help in the house. After speaking with numerous other expats and other middle class Kenyans we quickly got an idea but still weren't sure how the day-to-day would be.

The beginning was a little awkward as we struggled to understand some language and cultural differences but very quickly we came to realize Margret was a treasure. We can't imagine what our life would have been like here in Kenya without her loving soul and quiet but can-do attitude. The kids became very attached to her and she would have the patience of a saint to play with them for hours (soccer with Matthew and mommy and daddy with Ruby to name a few). All the while ensuring laundry was done, dishes were clean, and something prepped for dinner.

A couple months ago as it became clear we would be returning to the states we wanted to make sure there would be another family that would be as lucky as us to have her work for them. See Rhonda's note below that she sent out to search for another family -- Rhonda sums up perfectly our feelings...

"Margaret is one of the most hard-working, loyal, honest and kind
people I've ever met. Our children are completely bonded to her, and I
anticipate they'll be heartbroken to say "goodbye" when we leave.  She
takes up any request with a positive and happy attitude, though most
of the time she takes care of things before we even have a chance to
ask for her help. Periodically, we've asked her to stay late to help
in the evening after a party. Last time this happened, she refused to
rest in the middle of the day because she saw the work that had to be
done, worked persistently throughout the afternoon and continued
cleaning late at night long after we'd told her she should go to bed.
It's important to us to see Margaret in a good situation because we
couldn't be more grateful to her."

We are happy to report another family will be hiring her.

Some pictures/videos from today's goodbye...

with her son Martin at their apartment in Kangemi

outside her apartment in Kangemi

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Final Weekend in Nairobi

After almost 2 years in Kenya our time here has come to an end. We tried to do some fun and practical things to mark our last weekend.

Friday night was a going away happy hour with Rhonda's work mates.

It was blast - filled with lots of good company and dancing.

Yesterday we paid a last visit to the Elephant Orphanage - my favorite part is seeing them run from the woods into the feeding area. It is quite a sight to see them charge down the hill - one right after the other.

Afterwards we checked out restaurant in Karen we had not been to before - Purdy Arms. We ended up spending a good portion of the afternoon there since they had lots of entertainment for the kids - including bouncing castles and even make-your-own pizza.

For the grown-ups there was a market for Rhonda and I tried out archery for the first time since summer camp in the 80's, kind of random but fun.

Next stop was a place in Nairobi National Park we had not visited before - the Animal Orphanage. I was ready to head home but Matthew was determined to see cheetahs one last time. It did not disappoint as there was at least 6 cheetahs and a multitude of lions and hyenas and even a leopard.

 Today (Sunday) we spent at a fair, doing some packing, delivering stuff to people who bought household items from us, and visiting some friends for dinner. A great way to end our time in Kenya!

Next stop Europe for a couple of weeks and then back to Nyack...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Today was packing day but something strange...

happened to one of the suitcases...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ruby's Goodbye to the German School and Early Birthday Celebration

Since we'll be heading out in about a week, we organized an early birthday/bye to the German School party for Ruby. We had it at the pool at the German School. It was great time and lots of her friends from school and other places came to celebrate. We got real lucky with the weather as it's officially 'winter' here in Nairobi - all week it was quite chilly and overcast - but today the sun came out and kids jumped in the pool, played soccer, and bounced on the trampoline. Mom and Dad were smart too in that we hired a clown, had a puppet show for the kid's entertainment, and a caterer handled the refreshments.

enjoying the puppet show

parents v. kids tug-o-war

Happy 6th birthday cake to Ruby!