Saturday, August 30, 2008

Rainy Day Porch Play

Am I overkill on how much I love this new porch (or my daughter, or my husband or cloth diapers, for that matter) !? It was a rainy Saturday afternoon on this second to last day of August, and while it was beautiful, all I could think was, "Oh no! Annie's not going to get a walk outside!" The squiff is an outdoorsy kind of girl. She LOVES to be outside. She thrives on fresh air. A day inside=A day of stir crazy squiff. All of this to say, despite the downpour on/off all day long, we enjoyed a good bit of outdoor play on our back porch, thank you very much. Recently tiled by the incredibly talented, handsome, capable Mr. Iverson, the porch is now a bright, clean, lovely place to be, starkly contrasted with the dark, dingy, nasty place to be it used to be. Here are some pics of squiffer-doo in her new striped shorties from Mama Bear Wool Soakers on ebay.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Play Date with Samantha Grace

Born just two months after Annie's December birthday, Samantha is a precious playmate for the squiff.  While Annie crawls around Samantha and steals her toys, Sam lives up to her name and graciously puts up with active little Annie. :)  Thanks Samantha, for sharing all your fun toys with us!!
Some fun photos of our play-date with Samantha Grace!

"Hmmm...I think I'll steal this while she's smiling for the camera..."

"Not too sure about you, yet."

"Like bridesmaids jumping for the bouquet..."

Mother-Daughter photo shoot: Failed

Typical Selfish Maggie, I feel like there are many more pictures of Jonathan and Annie than there are of me. Rather than find contentment in the fact that the two people I love more than anything else on earth are captured forever in photography, I decide to be jealous of Jonathan. I stage a photo shoot right before our date night, so that I will look nice for two events, but only have to worry about getting dressed up once.
Only flaw in my perfect plan:
Right before Bedtime=Annie is tired.

Thus, this is the harvest of my intricate seed sowing...

1.) Annie not looking at the camera.

2.) Annie releasing some ready-for-bed-aggression

3.) Annie staring off into space

4.) Me looking sad because Annie hasn't been cooperating, only to miss the one shot where she finally cooperates with her precious, priceless smile.

5.) The only decent photo of us both.


A Curious Little Squiff...

Here are a few photos of The Squiff exploring her new, tiled domain: 
The exquisite handiwork of Mr. Iverson

Annie's cute cloth/wool-covered bootie-patootie!
Love those striped longies...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Prince Charming & The Porch

My wonderful, beloved, husband took on the task we've been talking about since we moved into this house: The back porch. Picture it, a dark blue, astro-turf-like carpet over cement. The roof has leaks, so every time it rains, that carpet gets wet, and with no A/C, you can imagine how foul it was. It would have been the best place for Annie to play due to its big, open space with very little to knock over. It has big windows all the way around for her to look at the birds and the squirrels. However, the floor was moldy and gross and there was no way I was going to let her crawl all over it in its current condition. So Jonathan tiled the porch. Together we ripped up the nasty carpet. He sanded the whole floor to get the glue residue off. He found free tile and picked out the ones that were close to the same size. He made an AWESOME looking pattern. He researched how to tile it. And he just did it. I must say, it looks AMAZING. I can't believe it was only his first tile job.

He finished during Hurricane Fay, and Annie has loved playing out there ever since. It turned out beautifully and we are so blessed to have this play space and this wonderful daddy who is great at almost everything he does.

Thanks Daddy!

Jonathan working on the tile just outside the back door in the kitchen.

Our friend Lyle, who came to help a few days...thanks Lyle!

The BEAUTIFUL, finished porch.

Savannah & Kate's Wedding

We arrived home from N. Africa, tired, stroller-less and carseat-less (Thanks DELTA, aka, Don't Expect Luggage To Arrive...).  On Friday afternoon, we left Orlando, graciously accompanied by Maggie's mom, Granne, to drive to Savannah and spend the night with Netsie.  Then Jonathan and I, left Saturday morning on our first overnight sans Annie.  Annie stayed with Granne and Great Grandma Netsie, while we drove up to Southern Pines, NC, through miles of Tobacco and beautiful countryside to attend Maggie's college roomate's wedding.  Kate and Trevor Stanley married in a beautiful service.  It was fun to see old friends, but WE MISSED OUR BABY!!! We couldn't get home fast enough the next day to see her...but as it turns out, she didn't really notice we were gone. :)  C'est la vie.  Here are some pictures of the four generations + Auntie Ems.

The Squiff!

We are "home" and we have settled quickly, fluidly, almost too easily back into our old routine.  The only difference is Annie, affectionately deemed, "the Squiff," has reached new levels of curiosity and mobility.  When we came back from N. Africa, we realized Annie could pull-up, stand and walk herself around solid objects.  Since we had very little furniture low enough for her to do this in Africa, we we thrown into baby-proofing mode and have reorganized our house to accommodate Annie's survival.  Nonetheless, she gets into everything, from my kitchen cupboards to the bathroom trash (we'll spare you that photo).  It is a delight, however, to watch her explore the world, and see her little personality blossom into the person God intends her to be, with proper pruning, of course. 

Monday, August 04, 2008

One more family photo...

...or maybe two!

The Cascades Day 2

Sunday: What better way to enjoy the Sabbath than to spend it in the midst of God's magnificent creation.  We rose in the morning, ate breakfast in our hotel, and hiked well below the main falls, Annie again strapped in make-shift carrier fashion to my back. We hiked up and down chalky mountain cliffs (no safe American guardrails to cling to).   I feel like I prayed fervently the whole way, "Lord, please keep us safe, please keep us alive, please keep my feet on this path, please guide my way."  For me, who sees all of life's metaphors, it was a meaningful journey.  The terrain rocky, the path unsure, but such splendid repose awaited us.  Jonathan kept urging us "a little farther, just a little farther." Just when I thought we could go no farther, we stumbled upon cafe "Coco Loco."  

A man greeted us and led us down to his little mud-roofed home. He boasted no fancy accommodations, but it seemed like paradise to me.  He had fig trees and pomegranate trees and grape vines and apple trees and quince trees and the lemon trees and the whole thing was nestled quietly below the trail and above a beautiful little waterfall and adjoining pool along the river run.  It was peaceful.  It was perfect.  We stayed and swam and jumped off the cliffs for nearly an hour, before we started back up the river.  Annie fell asleep in her five meter fabric sling and slept all the way back up the mountain.  
Annie at the beginning of our hike, starting out at the base of the main falls.
Refreshment: Tea and figs for the travelers
Daddy and Annie by the waterfall where we swam and played
Annie on the way home at the end of the hike, sound asleep the whole way.

The Cascades Day 1

Something that struck us about our trip this past weekend, was how dry and arid and hot it was on the highway. Our van was without a/c, and we were drinking water as fast as we could, but to no avail.  We were parched and dehydrated.  The land, although it had many olive trees, looked as though it had not seen rain in many months (and it hadn' only rains here one month of the year!  And that's December).  Every town we pass through is either asleep or dead, shops closed, nary a person in sight.  So we're driving along through this arid wasteland, and suddenly, we come upon a tiny town, bustling with life and energy, and as we walk past shops and restaurants filled with good things, the temperature drops about 20 degrees and we hear it: WATER.  Water pouring over the top of a cliff.  All I could think about was being a traveler 1000 years ago, not knowing this place existed, and happening upon it.  You would think you had stumbled upon paradise.  There were trees laden with figs, pomegranate, quince and other fruits.  There were vines ripe with bunches of grapes. And water water everywhere, all drops drinkable.  The place was ALIVE and filled with possibility.  

When we arrived at the Cascades it was almost 4:00, so we decided we 
would just hike down to the base to swim.  It was packed with people swimming, cliff diving/jumping, touring the small pool in inflatable boats or floating chariots made of bamboo and adorned with fake flowers.  It was hilarious.  Women in jalabas waded with their children while fathers flung their screaming kids into the water to teach them how to swim.  

We took a picture beneath a tree all wearing our "Team Iverson" t-shirts (thanks Martha!!)  We wrapped Annie onto my back and started our trek down the mountain side...
We saw a monkey...
When we arrived at the base, we stripped Annie down and she went swimming in the chilly water with her daddy, which of course, she loved.  Here she is with mommy after her swim, posing with mommy.
That night, we put Annie to sleep and went to the hotel restaurant on the first floor, located conveniently beneath our window, so we could hear Annie cry, if need be.  We ate dinner on froshes on the front porch, serenaded by a lovely Gnawa band while we waited for our tagine. 
Our new friend Osama (it means lion), charmed his way onto our frosh and made an offer of marriage for Annie.  He was pretty charming...

Traveling with a Babe

I highly recommend it.

Granted, you make some sacrifices along the way, but traveling with Annie has been nothing but delightful for us.  Praise God. 

We took a little road trip this past weekend, and Annie slept soundly in her car seat canopy bed. We got some pretty pictures of the drive as well.  More coming in a later post about the waterfall and hiking with a make-shift baby carrier made from 5 meters of inexpensive blue cloth.  When we get home, I'm going to start making it into little blue dresses--Any takers? 

Annie's tent

Annie in her tent

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Uncle Collin

Since moving into this apartment, we have been blessed with a wonderful roomate: 
Uncle Collin!
Collin entertains Annie and plays with her when we're both trying to get things done around the house.  Sometimes he feeds her.  And he's rather a natural, despite his bachelorhood.  (That's right, ladies, he's still available...)  He drives us around in his sweet van and lets us crash his surf days with our 7 month old.  He endures poopy diapers like a champ, and has been an all around wonderful roomate/uncle for the past month +

These are a few pics of Annie with Uncle Collin

Friday, August 01, 2008

Date Night in Brazil

Thanks to our wonderful friends here, the Palmers, my dearly beloved husband treated me to a date night, sans precious Annie. It was a community effort, as the Palmers babysat Annie and our friend Collin lent us his sweet ride, but it was such a blessing to us--likely more than they can know. Jonathan took me down to the water and after a little stroll along the beach, we stopped into a special cafe that looks out over the ocean. We shared cafe au lait and un financier chocolate. I particularly loved how little everything was. For me, the most amazing and refreshing part was, it was about 7:30 and the place was PACKED. These people do not eat dinner until at least 9:00 or 10:00, but nonetheless, people were stuffing their faces with ice cream bowls the size of their heads and delicate, decadent desserts at 7:30 pm. I love it! What passion and zest and love for life they have! I mean, what kind of culture eats dessert and coffee as a mid-evening snack. Granted, the people here are not skinny...but they're not fat, either. They're curvy and lovely, and they glow...most of the time.

After our sweet treat, we moved on to a Brazilian restaurant. When we arrived (at 8:30 pm) there was not one other dining customer in the place. It was a swanky little joint and we enjoyed our quiet table for two until people started filtering in around 9:30 and the band started playing at 10. We would have stayed all night, but for our real life calling us home....
Blessed responsibility.
Thanks for a great date night, Jonathan!

The Good, The Bad & The Bovine...

Since arriving in this city, we have learned to appreciate everything about it--her idiosyncrasies and her strengths. Like most large cities, it is dirty and noisy. But there are so many things we have fallen in love with here, already. We want to share a few of our favorites, from the good, to the bad, to the...bovine?

Although most people think of this area as a desert land, things really do grow! There are enormous bougenvilla cascading grandly over walls and up fences, not to mention other lovely flowers that fill the street. Just yesterday I bought a huge, gorgeous bouquet of flowers showcasing every color imaginable for 50 dh (about $6.) The city is coastal and even though it gets a bit warm in the afternoon, there is almost always a cool breeze blowing through the streets. The skies are clear, cloudless blue most days and we have yet to encounter yucky weather to spoil any of of our plans.

There is a charming market nearby our apartment, about a 20 minute walk, and we visit it regularly. They sell everything from clothes to scarves to baby clothes to carriers to live chickens (to dead chickens) to fruit & veggies, nuts and spices and the best darn olives you've ever tasted! The only drawback I've encountered in this somewhat sadistic society is the profound satisfaction people find in choosing their live chicken then watching it die. I have yet to see this particular event, but I can hear it when we walk through the market--it does not sound pretty.

Across and up the street there is a produce man who sells us the freshest fruits and veggies I have ever tasted. The only thing that comes close are the roadside peach stands you find throughout GA, SC and NC in the summer. But even the fine fair from those merchants pales in comparison to the fruit we've found here. The picture doesn't do it justice...
Also, for breakfast, Jonathan walks over to our hanut (a mini-convenience store) and picks up two "ribe un porte" --yogurt bowls to go. The guys makes this yogurt fresh each morning, and cuts up fresh fruit all over it--avocado, peaches, plums, apples, bananas--incredible.

So we live in a dirty, noisy, foreign city. People rarely smile at me, although Annie does wonders to alleviate their disdain. Sometimes cab drivers cheat us. Sometimes bad smells come up through the shower drain. Nonetheless, this place is not without its charms and delights. While I can barely communicate beyond "Hello, Nice to meet you, Goodbye," somehow, I feel like more than that is said in my daily interactions. We have made friends. We have found things we will miss when we leave. Like the cows. Well, not really, but what would this post be if I failed to tell you about the bovine? Cows, sheep and goats roam the city streets day and night. They eat garbage and gallop about, darting in and out of traffic, lowing as they lope. It is odd. It is a great reason NOT to buy beef off the streets (it really does taste like garbage). But it is strangely comforting and entertaining all at once. And while I have not been able to capture these creatures on film, know that they are there, making the good all the more divine by comparison, and the bad doesn't seem so bad, when it's only bovine...