Thursday, 27 August 2009

The Flood

The Lord seen some sinning and it caused Him pain.
And He said, "Stand back, I'm going to make it rain!"
He said, "Hey, Brother Noah, I'll tell you what to do,
Go and build me a floating zoo,"

"and take some".......

"Green alligators and long-necked geese,
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees.
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born.
Don't you forget My unicorns."

Brother Noah seems to have forgotten this poor creature anyways. It looks like it even lost its horn in the process.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Back here

Well, after all the holiday fun we finally made it back home. Everybody was really happy about sleeping in their own beds and having their own routine back on track. Since we got back, I've had LOADS of blog subject ideas, but very little inspiration / time to write them up.

E started school last week and Z is due to begin this Sunday. We've been out a fair bit, had people over a few times and were generally busy with life. We went on a boat ride on the Nile, organised two braais, went to the Hash, to some Ethiopian night, visited the horse farm, went to see a flat with a real estate agent and today we are due to a school picnic. Life is certainly not dull.

I will try and get back into this blogging routine again. So watch this space, bigger and better things lie ahead!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Quick update (or something like that)

KRT-AMS: Ice tea, hot coffee and pee on my clothes, courtesy of my kids. Other than that, fine trip.

AMS: Lots of waiting around, tired kids, good playgrounds, lots of coffee, kids' nap room.

AMS-GVA: Nothing to report

GVA: Off to Ecublens, Bern, Morges and Vallorbe. Survived one week intensive field training. Met amazing people and made fantastic friends. Back to Ecublens and Lausanne. Spent afternoon with brother and SIL to be.

GVA-AMS: Met a Canadian rock musician living in Hawaii.

AMS: Coffee with above mentioned rock musician. Great conversation. Lots of waiting around. Massage. More waiting. Sushi. Shopping. Waiting.

AMS-YYC: Sat beside Hungarian guy from Szeged. Yay, I had a travel companion. Good fun. Good food. Good music.

YYC: Off to Sundre. Great to see the kids again. Cold weather. Running after V's passport. Visiting family. Kids love the cousins. Great fun.

And right now: need sleep. :)

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Holidays ahead

We are going on holidays.

We will visit family and friends. We will see green grass and clear skies. We will taste rain and enjoy the cool wind. We will see cows and hear church bells. We will eat Swiss cheese and drink French wine. We will do fun stuff with the kids and spend time with loved ones.

We will spend 72 hours locked in a plane with two weary toddlers. We will be jetlagged by nine hours back and forth. We will get very little sleep going to bed late talking to family and getting up at silly o'clock with kids. We will freeze our butts off in 20 degrees colder than we're used to. We will only spend 10 days together all four of us because of various professional commitments.

Something tells me we will be more tired when we get back than when we left. But hey, that's what holidays are all about, no?

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Small world

One of the good things about expat life is that I get to meet a lot of new people almost on a daily basis. They come from all kinds of places and backgrounds and usually they all have a very interesting story to tell. Some leave quickly. Some of them stay for a while and I get to know them better. Some become my friends. Some remain acquaintances. In any case, I am glad they passed through my life. Obviously the downside about this is that at some point we have to say goodbye.

But sometimes the world proves to be small and I come across the same people in totally different places. The Argentinian doctor who treated me for kidney stones in Liberia was the same who signed me off for maternity leave in Madagascar. The donor I discussed ploughs with in Luanda ended up offering me breakfast in Antananarivo.

And today I met up with a Hungarian girl I worked with in Angola. We only met briefly there, long enough to like each other but too short to really stay in touch over the years. I am so grateful she is here. Beside the fact that we have the potential of becoming very good friends, she also allows me to speak my mother tongue and this is something I've been missing a lot since we've been here.

See, the world is so small... :-)

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Quite a Friday

Yesterday we went out to the horse farm for E's birthday brunch. Well, his birthday is only in another 10 days, but since Auntie R and Uncle L are leaving on holidays soon, this was the only date when we could come together. In the end there were only eight of us, kids included, because a friend of mine who was supposed to come with her two children got sick the night before. I prepared a ball cake complete with green grass made out of coconut. I am pretty useless with anything even remotely artistic but it turned out ok and it tasted good too.

It was an extremely windy day with dusty haboob coming from the South. We had a hard time hanging on to plates, glasses and table cloth. Nevertheless the waffles were delicious and the grass green, so we all had good fun. The kids went for a splash in the small pool, ran around and generally had a ball. Once back home, we tried to put them down to sleep which kind of worked, but not really, so they both ended up pretty tired after their (not) nap.

In the evening the neighbours organised a haggis special on our rooftop. According to Wiki, "haggis is a traditional Scottish dish. There are many recipes, most of which have in common the following ingredients: sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours." We also had beef filet, salad, broccoli and cheese, yorkshire pudding and apple / pineapple crumbles for dessert. It was a delicious meal with great company.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Getting my act together

I've been rather busy these days. Beside the obvious kids - husband - household stuff, I've also been doing quite a bit of reading and reflecting. I discovered a great Christian website and while I am still questioning some of their statements, I found answers that I've long been looking for. You'd think that after 15 years with the Adventists who analyze and dissect every Bible text and connect them to 15 others to make their point I would have seen it and known it all. Not so. I had to revise my certainties about a number of very basic beliefs while also acquiring further knowledge in other issues.

At the same time I am reading Francis Wheen's 'How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World' which is basically an ode to rationalism. He criticizes every belief and practice that departs from the visible and scientifically provable, may it be New Age, Christianism, UFO sightings, lifestyle gurus, feng shui, acupuncture, homeopathy or post-modernism. No one is spared. I enjoy reading it despite obviously not sharing his point of view on Christianism because I really see where he's coming from. He's also a talented writer with quite a bit of sarcasm which makes the book very good and easy to follow.

A few weeks ago I also started an online course with the UN Peace Operations Training Institute and I am ploughing my way through 'An Introduction to the UN System: Orientation for Serving on a UN Field Mission'. It is primarily intended for future UN peace ops recruits, but it is also relevant for NGO workers dealing with the UN. Since we have UNAMID and UNMIS in Sudan and I will be working with an NGO here, I might as well gain some understanding of what their expectations and operational principles are.

I must say that my brain is grateful for this intellectual gymnastics.

Beside all this, I am actively preparing for E's birthday brunch on Friday morning. I finally came up with a menu (omlet, waffles, fruit salad, carrot cake) and I am ready to get everything prepared as soon as the shopping is done. I'll try and make a ball cake that E can share with Pepsi (his poney) out on the horse farm. Yeah, he wanted to celebrate his birthday with the horse, so why not? :)

Saturday, 30 May 2009

About the weekend

We had a great weekend. The past tense is justified because in the Muslim world Friday is the day off, maybe if you're lucky Saturday as well, but by Sunday morning latest everybody's back to work. Unfortunately V's not among the lucky ones, so he has only one day off per week.

Thursday night we had a braai (bbq for those who have never met a South African) on our rooftop. We had the horse people, a Sudani-American entrepreneur, the pilot and the neighbours over. It was great fun as usual. The last batch left after midnight and V duly proceeded to watch the Moto GP race rerun until 4am.

Friday morning the neighbour lady invited us for breakfast, so we hung there until the kiddies nap time. The afternoon was spent loitering around the house. In the evening the neighbours (yes, the very same ones, they had an overdose of us this weekend) took us to the "Pickwick Club". It's a social club organized by the British Embassy. The security measures are stringent and we had to have our names on THE List, present a photo ID and brave a metal detector before being allowed into the inner courtyard, complete with tables, chairs, bar, bbq and a pool. We were informed that the pool was totally off limits and getting so much as our toe wet would exclude us for life. I guess this is how the British set a democratic example of freedom of expression in the political situation we are living in here. Congratulations, God save the Queen!

Today I took the kids to Ozone in the morning. It was rather good fun until E spotted the only mud patch of the garden and make his sister sit in it. We did make it home after 15 minutes spent in the ladies room trying to wash the mud off the kids. Auntie invited us over after nap and I seized the opportunity of having a cup of coffee I didn't have to prepare myself, so off we went. We got even more spoilt than expected: we were offered salad and sandwiches for supper which was absolutely fantastic.

Now here we are, ready to face another week ahead. Time just flies by so quickly here.

Friday, 29 May 2009

My blog list

On the left hand side of this page, you can see a number of websites under the title "My blog list". I chose them based on different criteria, sometimes because of their content, sometimes because of the people who write them, sometimes for both.

1. Don't Call Me a Yank(ee): This is my friend Ron's blog. As mentioned in an earlier post, I met him in Angola. He later moved to different countries until he finally ended up in the South of England near his five-year old daughter. I like reading his ramblings about Neeve, music and life in general.

2. ezazanap: This is a collection of poems and short stories written by a childhood friend of mine. We were in the same class at primary school then lost contact for 16 years, until finally facebook got us talking to each other again. He quit his important and well-paid job about a year ago in order to be able to spend his time writing and living life in a way it is worth to be lived. Obviously most of you won't be able to understand Hungarian, but I love the way his writes.

3. Making Sense of Darfur: For me this is one of the references about the situation in Darfur and Sudan in general. It is written (mainly) by Alex de Waal who is known specialist of these issues. It's great insight and the comments help to deepen the debate.

4. szudánblog: This is the diary of Hungarian aid worker based in Khartoum. I don't know who she is, but I enjoy the way she writes, even when I don't necessarily share her points of view. Again, only for Hungarian readers.

5. lifestyles of the fab and famous: This is written by my niece-in-law (if anything of the kind exists). I don't get to see much of my husband's family, since they are living so far away, therefore it is nice to get to know them (or at least one of them) a little better.

6. Sudan Watch: A general info blog about Sudan and obviously Darfur.

7. Mitch Scoggins' Weblog: I met Mitch in Madagascar where he was in charge of programmes. We are very different but had that instant connection that allowed us to work very efficiently together. (I guess the copious amounts of coffee helped as well.) He is nowadays in the States and it seems he's given up the expat lifestyle, at least for a while.

8. Travels and Stories: Another blog run by a friend of mine, met somewhere in Africa. He's always been amazingly good at writing things and making boring project descriptions come alive. You can't see that from his blog, but he's also really talented in photography and scrapbooking, and that was before scrapbooking with those curly flowers and pink paper clips became all the rage. I used to love looking at his albums.

9. The Khartoum Chronicle: An anonymous blog by an expat living in Khartoum. It seems anonymous blogs are a must here...

10. My Surrogacy Journey: I met this mom on a "moms forum" site when I was pregnant. She's got two children and decided that her own contribution towards helping others would be becoming a surrogate mother. I think that this is an amazing gift and I can't wait to read the next chapters of her adventures.

I guess I will be adding more blogs as I find them and I'll let you know why I happen to like them.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

They make us laugh

E has been getting better at talking and he sometimes dishes out really hilarious replies. Here are some chosen extracts:

E: (points at the Nutella jar)
Me: (playing dumb) You want some jam?
E: (keeps pointing at Nutella jar)
Me: Or is it some butter?
E: (exasperated by such a dumb mother) Look at my finger, Maman!

V: Thank you but I don't want any cake.
E:(puzzled by such an incomprehensible decision) Is it too much for you, Papa?
V: Yes, it is.
E: Oh. Sorry about that.

V: I am missing my bike.
E: It's in your phone, Papa. (V's got the picture of the bike in his mobile phone)
V: Yeah, but that's not the same.
E: fetches his prized bike keyring) Oh, that's ok Papa. Here, have mine.

T still doesn't say much except for single words. She can name a lot of animals and she obviously understands everything we tell her. Of her own accord, she decided to call E "Buck" which we find quite funny. She calls herself "Nina". E calls her "Didi", we never managed to figure out why.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Of chairs and stamps

I've got my driving license, I've got my driving license, yaayyyy!!!

Since we are planning to be here for a while, we decided that it was better for me to get a proper Sudanese driving license. Routine checks are fairly frequent and it's better if the policemen are actually able to read my papers. We have a company pickup truck and usually V takes it to work, but it's nice for me to be able to go shopping or see friends on my own without always asking him to chauffeur me around. He's good sport and doesn't complain, but since we usually we also have to take the kids, it's a bit of a logistical nightmare.

I am no faint of heart, but we asked the company's logistics department to help us out with the formalities and what a good idea that was! First my Swiss driving license was duely translated into Arabic and certified by the University. But that was just the preliminaries.

On Day-D we showed up, V and Ali and me, at the traffic police headquarters ready to brave the Sudanese bureaucracy. Well, for about an hour after our arrival, we didn't have much to brave, since everybody was having their breakfast break, complete with ful and bread. Finally the officials started to arrive back to their desks where they sat down and stared at their black computer screens for further 15 minutes. V needed all his power of persuasion, plus some chocolate biscuits, to keep me from getting up and leaving.

In the meantime I discovered that the chairs scattered around the hall were actually placed in strategic locations. I was asked to move chairs several times, supposedly meaning that I was moving up on the waiting list ladder. Ali paid the money to someone sitting in an obscure backroom and in turn we were provided with a receipt allowing us to expect better and bigger things. I was also joined by a fellow hopeful expat working for V's company and from then on we spent our time cheering each other on. After about 90 minutes sitting in the main hall, we were herded out to the backyard and into different shady offices where we underwent an eye exam and were kitted out with further receipts and stamps.

Upon our return, we were allocated new and MUCH better chairs. I guess the eye exam is definitely a step up on the social ladder. A lady proceeded to enter my name into the computer, closely watched by two of her colleagues. My Ethiopian companion mentioned something about "job creation" at that point. Unfortunately my name was not to the lady's liking, jeopardizing our hard earned stamps and the fruitful outcome of our quest. You see, my parents were expecting a boy. When I came out obviously missing those boyish bits, they were somewhat short for name ideas. So they only gave me one first name. Now this confused the bejabers out of the veiled lady. She needed three names and I only had two. With a diplomatic incident and an IT meltdown in sight, we finally agreed that she'd put my maiden name down. Good thing I am married. What on earth would she have entered otherwise???

Another stamp, another piece of paper and I was ready to get my picture taken. If you look closely you'll be able to see the unmistakable curve of a smirk on my lips, but then you'll have to remember that we were about two and a half hours into the process at that point. Finally the holy grail (in the form of a driving license) was delivered into my hand.

It's all in Arabic, so I can't tell you what it says and I look paler than dead on the picture (and about 20 years younger than I am, according to my husband), but I've got a local license now to cruise around.

Not sure that this is a blessing. But I'll tell you about the Khartoum traffic some other day.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Ron, the Hash and the AK47

My friend Ron published a post on his blog a few days ago, inviting his readers to check out my ramblings here because I'm "doing well". Well, to return the favour (kind of...), let me tell you how I met Ron.

I was working with an NGO in Luanda at the time, young and idealistic and innocent, ya know, those kind of adjectives you just grow out of after a certain time... We were still in the middle of the civil war, stringent security measures restricting our every move and improving our chances of survival. Anyways, some not-so-innocent-anymore friends of mine talked me into attending the Hash House Harriers gatherings. Now if you've never been an expat, you've probably been spared the knowledge of what HHH stands for and you might as well remain in this blissful state of ignorance until the end of time. However, for the purpose of our little story here, I must give you some basic information.

The Hash is a regular meeting in most major cities housing a sizeable expat population. The idea is simple: the hares (usually a group of 3-4 people) set the track across town / slums / people's backyard to be followed by everybody else in a run (walk for the feeble and weak) that lasts about an hour. The physical prowess gets its reward at the end in the form of copious amounts of beer or soft drinks (again, for the feeble).

That particular day the pack was going through downtown Luanda which was a crowded and rather decayed part of town, blazing in its own bygone glory. However a lone cowboy decided that it was time to rewrite history and the expat crowd provided the perfect opportunity to finally demonstrate the superiority of the local people over this imported riffraff of assorted oil workers, UN executives and NGO do-gooders. He stood right in front of the charging hashers and pointed his AK47 at them.

Now, most people did what everybody in their right mind would do in such circumstances: disperse and keep low. Not so my friend Ron. He was the last man standing, right in front of that gun, glancing from left to right at his fellows crouching behind bushes, cars and garbage pails with that bewildered look on his face, shouting all around: "What's wrong with you, guys??? Have you never been shot at!?!?"

Erm... no. Sorry to disappoint, Ron.

So, this is how I met Ron. Nowadays he's living in the UK, being a part-time Dad to his five year old daughter. He writes a blog where he tells about his fight for his child, baseball and drinking in the UK, among other things, you can check it out here.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Dear kids...

... I am sorry for having been a crap mother today. I apologize and I know you'll forgive me. You already have. I just need to get this out of me so that the guilt doesn't linger on. I was impatient and not interested in you today. I wanted to do my own thing and it's normal to want some ME space from time to time, but it's not nice to send you away. So, I am sorry. I'll do better tomorrow. Promised. And if not, I'll apologize and you'll forgive me again and again as I am learning every day to be a better mom to you and a better person to myself and everybody else around me. It's a steep learning curve and there are many setbacks along the way, but I want them to make me rebounce and not recoil with guilt and feelings of failure.

So tomorrow morning, I'll be there on the front line again, ready to face another day with you.

I love you.

The greener grass effect

"What if I had...?" This is probably the most frequent question people ask themselves. It questions our past choices, builds different scenarios for our present and wonders how our future would be different - usually better - had we decided otherwise. What if I had studied something else? What if I had taken another job? What if I had married somebody else? What if I did / didn't have kids? What if I had moved someplace else? The answers are invariably: I would be happier, richer, more important, more powerful, more beautiful, more relaxed, less stressed and the list goes on.

I've been there, done that and I am not sure I've got the t-shirt just yet. Questions do come back to me on a regular basis. What am I doing here? Can I undo what's been done? Any way to escape from the consequences or change the outcome? Don't get me wrong, I love my life and as I said in an earlier post, I finally feel at peace with where I am and what I'm doing. But still, questions pop up and my brain goes into a frenzy of building castles in the air that vanish as soon as the wind of reality hits them.

The other day I came across a text in the Bible. It's Psalm 16. "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."

Now doesn't this define the colour of my grass? :-)

PS: És mindebbõl a tanulság? Talán mégis csak a Hufnáger Pistihez kellett volna feleségül mennem??? ;-))))

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Shopping local

I went shopping this afternoon to the "best" supermarket in town. Even the smallest Migros (Swiss supermarket chain) would make it blush in comparison, but hey, you take what you can get, right?

Here is what I paid in Sudanese pounds:

2 kg cat food: 90
Tabasco: 8.50
4 pots of yogurt: 4
Green beans: 6
Grated mozzarella 250g: 9.30
2l milk: 8
1l yogurt drink: 3.50
Banana: 1.60
Grapes: 10.90
Bell peppers: 4.10
Apples: 8.45
Lemons: 1
Candy bar: 4
Kiwis: 9
Kellogg's Fruit'n'Fibre: 19.50
Marmite: 20
Olive oil 750ml: 17.50
Seran wrap: 5
Ariel 4kg: 40
Grape juice: 7
Berry juice: 7
Butter 450g: 10
Herbal tea: 5
2 l tomato juice: 13
2 l apple juice: 13
Plastic cups: 30

That's 355.35 SDG in total.

Or 178 Swiss franks.

In Switzerland, it would have cost me about 140 Swiss franks (based on, known to be rather more expensive than buying the stuff in a normal supermarket)

That's almost 30% more.

Don't come and tell me that Switzerland is expensive.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The news and me

I don't write much about the political and humanitarian situation here. I got actually told that it seems that we're living in some kind of a tower, far off from local realities. In a way, that's very possible. Right now most of my time is spent with the kids or household chores. I do read BBC and reliefweb news with a special focus on Sudan, but I do feel a bit out of the loop. Most "insider" information only goes around in NGO/UN circles, and right now I am not privy. We don't have TV, so I can't sit down and watch the news, I have to actively look for the information on the web. With all the junk out there, it's hard to know what's going on exactly. To give you a taste of it, here is the top ten most read articles on BBC News this morning:

1. Sri Lanka leader hails 'victory'
2. Have you heard 'the Hum'?
3. Jumper survives 6,000ft free fall
4. Boy aged 12 did not father baby
5. Ethiopia troops 'back in Somalia'
6. Asian leaders condemn Burma trial
7. How Borat hoaxed America
8. Zuma minister pressed on Mercedes
9. Cab driver sex victims to sue
10. Rumsfeld 'Bible texts' criticised

I mean, c'mon, how are you supposed to get any value info out of THIS?!?!

I also don't speak Arabic (courses start in August, can't wait!!!), so local newspapers are out of my reach and so are conversations with local people. Not that I meet many of them, mind you. But then again, that's a function of my current occupation: full time mom and housewife, spending most of my time walled up in my flat.

This is one of the reasons I am really looking forward to going back to work. Meeting people, getting into the flow of events, knowing what's going on and simply getting out on the street to see for myself.

Only three months to go. :-)

Monday, 18 May 2009

The shopping list

We're headed back to civilisation in one month time and I am trying to figure out what we'll need to take back with us. These are trivial matters, I know, but since shopping here is either impossible or outrageously expensive, I need to do a bit of thinking ahead. My husband would think that this is useless, but that's because he can live with one pair of shoes for five years and believes that we should all do the same. I am thinking of ordering a number of things on the internet, mainly because the in-laws live in the bush about two hours drive from the closest mall. We've got KLM tickets that are based on a piece concept, meaning that in total and between the four of us, we can bring back a whopping 184 kg load. That should accomodate a number of books, dvds, shoes, clothes and other goodies. So, what do we need? ("Need" being defined somewhat loosely, I'll concede.) School clothes for E, including pants, socks, shoes and trainers, all according to school standards, the rest of his uniform is bought directly from the school. Normal clothes and shoes for both kids, with increasing sizes, making sure they last another year. Clothes and shoes for me, maybe for hubs as well. Books, books and books. I am craving to read here, and I am working my way through our limited library here. Maybe some new DVDs, since we still don't have TV and we can recite by heart all our movies. What else? Small goodies that make life more fun, some food items, chocolate, cheese and dried meat.

I know that the holidays are mainly about seeing people. But when you come from a place like this, it's also about recharging your other kind of batteries. Seeing green scenery. Eating nice food. Wearing nice clothes. Aimlessly stroll around a mall for hours, just looking at all the beautiful and / or useless stuff available.

Ya know, just BE, in a different context.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Musings about children

I came to think a lot about the advantages / disadvantages of having children lately. Only a generation ago when you got married, you were expected to produce a number offsprings within a reasonable amount of time. It was not really optional. People felt sorry for couples who didn't manage to have children and those who refused to have them were frowned upon. Now it's actually the opposite. I had several friends tell me (maybe not so directly) that they were feeling sorry for me for having my children and what a hard job it must be and really it must spoil my whole life. I mean let's face it: things do become more complicated when you have children. Shopping is a mission trying to prevent them from emptying all the shelves, booking holidays is a headache and intercontinental travel with two kids under three is a full-blown nightmare. They wake you up in the morning and most of the time in the middle of the night too. They want you to watch them build a puzzle when all you want is a cup of coffee and once you managed to sneak away and get your mug, they'll come climb on you, so that you either pour the hot beverage on yourself or on them. Going anywhere requires logistical organisation, including packing toys, a change of clothes, water, snacks, wet wipes, diapers and other essential items. However no matter how much you've packed, they'll need the one item you forgot back home. Children are rather expensive too. First you have to buy diapers + clothes + toys + various equipment (carseat, pram, blankets, baby bed, etc.), but that is usually not so bad because most of the time you'll find somebody to give / lend some of the stuff. But then you hit the stage where they want the Wii, the tv, the laptop, the iPhone, the latest (and most expensive) designer shoes and clothes and you haven't even started putting money aside for their college fund. Your social life also goes through the drain. You could get a baby sitter to go out at night, but by 11pm you are just too tuckered out to enjoy any party, not to mention that you know that by 6am some little hand will be pulling on your hair demanding a dvd to be played right away. Fights with your better half become frequent and revolve around most important matters, such as should you let your kid have a pacifier or how many seconds he should be left crying before you go into his room and soothe him. I read somewhere that more than 50% of all divorces happen in the year following the birth of a first child. So I guess having kids does suck.

Luckily I didn't really get to think about all this. Both our kids were accidents. Since they were not planned, we didn't really expect anything either which might be better than hoping, trying, hoping again, until finally the much desired baby arrives and the abyss between the dream and the reality shatters even the best intentioned parents. We had our bad moments and we still do. But our kids are great. I am not even willing to go near to explain why kids are so fantastic, I believe anybody who's spent some time with children will know exactly what I am talking about and for the others... well, no amount of explanation will do more than a day with a toddler.

Sometimes I do wish to be « free ». To read my book without somebody shredding it at the same time. Get up late and drink my coffee without having a conversation about diapers and what's in them. But then again, sometimes we all wish to be free. Free of our job, free of our family, free of our spouse. Sometimes we'd all like to take a plane to an island and live off building boats and fishing and not having to be responsible for anything or anyone. But come Monday, we go back to the office, we buy a box of chocolate / case of beer for our spouse and send a card to the great-aunt Funny how human beings actually find a way to realise themselves in the responsibilities they are taking and how much they'd miss them if they were taken away.

My kids have taught me way more than I taught them. Patience, resilience, perseverance and lots of laughter. They have no sense of time and they know nothing about stress. They live in the present, they don't beat themselves up for the past and don't worry about the future. They know no failure, they just see a new opportunity for trying again. They never give up. They go from tears to laughter within seconds and forget the hurt. They forgive instantly and they love unconditionally.

Yes, kids are a lot of work. Hard work. But that's because it is mainly about changing myself.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

J'y suis, j'y reste

I liked this place from the moment we arrived. It's nothing fancy, really, and I usually don't know what to say when people ask me "So what is there to be done for fun in Khartoum?" but I like it the same. The weather is either too hot or too dusty or too dry or too windy or everything at the same time, but it doesn't bother me. Our place on the rooftop is a prime location to be woken up by airplanes taking off and various imams. It is also collecting dust and sand at a rate I've never seen before. It's on the third floor, no elevator and all the heat from the deck and from under the roof is focused in it. But we have a huge deck that is perfect for the kids to play, run, cruise, cycle, climb, slide and jump. It also came with a braai (bbq) and some plastic furniture that allow us to invite and entertain our friends easily. We are bound by Islamic decency rules when we go out and I am not especially keen wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts when it's 47 degrees out, but Islam also means that I can go out at any time of day or night without ever worrying for my safety or the safety of my kids. People drive like mad and you'd think that they are deprived even of the most basic self-preservation instinct, but accidents are rather rare and you can get anywhere with a rickshaw. As mentioned, not too much fun is to be had, unless you organise it yourself, but both local and international people are fantastic and spending time with them is the best thing. There are also a few lovely spots, such as O-Zone or the Soba horse farm that allow us to relax with the kids.

So, since we all like it here, we are settling in. E will start KICS in August and T will go to Gina's nursery. We just got confirmation that we can stay in our flat, there had been some speculation about the company terminating the lease for the building. I would have liked a garden, but here we have a 24h guard, a free generator, decent furniture, including kitchenware and appliances and a proper water filtering system. If we moved, we'd have to start from scratch to equip it all again and arrange for our own guard and generator. I'm not really keen.

I also found a job, starting mid-August. I'll be working for a humanitarian organisation doing human resources. I am really looking forward going back to work, actually much more than I expected. It's a five-days a week job (here it's usually 6), with at least 6 weeks off per year, possibly 8. It's a Christian organisation, so that's also a bonus. I'll still get to spend some time with the kids and they'll also get to do their "own" thing in school and nursery. I really can't wait.

So, it looks like we're in here for the long run. I finally accepted that I want to be a full-time expatriate. I am sick and tired of going back to Switzerland and also to be asked (mainly by family): "So, when are you coming home?" Home is here now. Or wherever else we decide to transfer in the future. But as long as my kids are provided with quality education, I don't see the point of going back. And by the time they need to go to university, they can go on their own. For the time being I have no craving whatsoever to go back to the "civilised" world. Holidays and breaks are sure lovely. But I like it here.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Haboob or not

So, it looks like the sand is mostly gone. For the last four days we've been living amidst a fog of sand lingering over Khartoum. It all kicked off Wednesday night with a major sandstorm, leaving our flat covered in dust. Then things got relatively calm until another huge storm hit us two nights ago. The winds were so strong that the Coca-Cola fridge on the deck got pushed by more than one meter. I spent over four hours cleaning up in the morning, you could see our footprints on the floor in the dust. Haboobs can be terrible, but they also come with some perks. The airport was closed several times for relatively long periods and even when it was open, there was much less traffic than usual. Also as the winds are now coming from the North and planes take off into the wind, it is much less noisy than when it's the other way around. The temperatures also dropped considerably, we barely hit 35 degrees during the day instead of 46 or 47.

We are currently planning our holidays and the flights we'll need to get where we want to go. So far it looks like hubs will have to take the two kids on his own to Canada and I'll have to bring them back on my own to Switzerland, due to various courses and trainings we both need to attend in different parts of the world. We WILL have some family holiday time all together, but probably less than two weeks. So far it looks like this. Me: KRT-AMS-GVA-AMS-YYC-AMS-GVA-AMS-KRT. Hubs: KRT-AMS-YYC-DFW-ICT-DFW-YYC-AMS-KRT. The kids will travel with one or the other, depending on which one of us is available at that point. The only saving grace in here are the airmiles that we'll be collecting...

Monday, 13 April 2009

Going local?

I've never done the "going local" thing. I believe that as a foreigner my duty is to respect the local people, their customs and their beliefs and I ask them to do the same for me. We are different and there is no use pretending otherwise. I enjoy interaction and learning about their culture or even their language, but I won't go out of my way to fit in. Here I've been quite puzzled by the dress code. Sudan being an Islamic country, women are required to wear "decent" clothing and cover their heads. The local ladies usually cover up from head to toe, either in Indian type of saris or Arabic type long dresses. A few of them also cover their faces and wear socks and gloves. It seems however that different rules apply depending on who you are. "Sudanese" looking ladies get comments if they are not properly dressed, while Black and White ladies can wear pretty much anything (within reason, I usually wear long pants / skirt + a shirt that covers my shoulders). I don't know if this is because Muslim people really don't care or if they believe that we are infidels going to hell anyways, so why bother. During the daytime, I have never gotten any comments, especially when going out with husband and / or kids. However, things are a bit different at night. So last night when going to fetch our Lebanese take-away on the corner, I decided for the first time ever to cover my head. I honestly don't think that most people care. But there is always a rude minority (and that's the same in any country) and I just didn't feel like facing any comments. So, does this mean that I am going local?

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Apologies are in order

I need to present my apologies to all Cadbury lovers. You see, in Switzerland we cannot buy Cadbury, since we have chocolate there. Therefore I didn't have a base for comparison before arriving here. But some UK connected people told me that actually the Cadbury here doesn't taste the same as "back home". Considering the tone used, I can only suppose that this means that the "home version" is better. I still doubt that it would qualify as "chocolate", but it might be coming closer than the sugar-sand-palm oil concoction sold in a purple wrap here.

I was also told that African Coke has more sugar in it that the original one. Now I have a hard time believing this. Let's face it: this is a pure question of physics. If Coke had any more sugar in it than it already does, it would be solid.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Miss Switzerland

"She's Miss California, hottest thing in west L.A..."

Well, not quite, but definitely I am Miss Switzerland and I can prove it.

Yesterday we went to collect my new modem from Sudani. The lady there asked for my passport and duly proceeded to enter my data into the computer. I paid the 200 SDG and got the modem and a copy of the contract in exchange.

We took a look at the contract and have been laughing ourselves silly ever since. Probably considering my name being way too short and plain, the lady entered the Subscriber Name as "Schweiz Suisse Svizzera Svizra Switzerland"

Right on.

Honey, you married Miss Switzerland.

Monday, 30 March 2009

My husband loves me

The British left two painful gastronomic legacies here. First, the bread is bad (this was not my first choice of word). No offense to any Anglo-Saxon readers, but you have no idea about how to make proper bread. That packaged tasteless, soft, crunchless, zero-nutrition value, white thing that comes sliced in a plastic bag and that you need to toast to even get a chance to butter it without making a hole in it... well, that ain't no bread. Our options here breadwise are therefore pretty limited: we can get Lebanese bread (also wholewheat), the above-described British horror or we can buy some bread from O-Zone. It is not *quite* bread, but it's getting there. It comes in a couple of different formats and has wholewheat and cereal versions to it. It is still soft on the outside though. So if any baker would like to come here and make a contribution, he'd be more than welcome.

The second issue is about chocolate. Or rather: the lack thereof. People here doesn't seem to be able to tell the difference between candy bars and chocolate. And since candy bars are obviously cheaper (sugar and palm oil are clearly more affordable than cocoa and cocoa butter), they only sell candy bars. The closest we come to chocolate is Cadbury's. Gosh, it even pains me writing the name down. Don't get me wrong: it is not bad. It is just not chocolate. I've been drooling at the thought of 70% dark chocolate for days now. Or even milk chocolate. Maybe with whole nuts in it... Mmmmm... Nothing of the kind here. But my Mom is coming at the end of April and I'll make sure she takes some stocks with her. In the meantime, we came across some Ferrero Rochers. Not sure what it's called in other parts of the world. Technically, it's not really chocolate either. But it does taste good and it doesn't have this dull and sandy aftertaste that Cadbury does. So because my husband loves me so much, he got a box of them for me. A whole box. And a BIG box at that. And I've been smiling ever since.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

The crash and Afra

This afternoon V was supposed to pick me to go and fetch the "Enrolment Pack" for E at KICS. Instead he got crashed into at some crossing. He stopped at the red light, obviously unbeknownst to the guy behind him. So we went to the police station where they took everybody's statements. It was surprisingly civilised and organised. The car is pretty bashed, but I am more worried about V complaining about headaches. It seems his neck took quite a hit. I am hoping he'll be feeling better by tomorrow. In any case, he's booked for a Thai massage for tomorrow afternoon. It's the closest we can come here to any kind of chiropractor...

Since the nanny was looking after the children anyways, we went to Afra centre. It is "the" Mall. Our aim was not really to hang out or buy anything, we were heading to the Sudani telecoms office to enquire about their wireless internet connection device. We got the info pretty quickly and now we just need to decide if we want one or not. I'd say yes. The modem costs 100 USD and the monthly fee is about 60 USD for unlimited connection. V's got a similar device from another operator through his job, but he needs to take it with him quite often to the office, so I am left home alone with no coms and that sucks. A bit. Also, I would prefer to have something we pay for ourselves and thus have complete control over, instead of relying on the office to take care of us.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Street 47

Our street was paved this morning. There seems to be some kind of government programme to pave the streets of Khartoum. Yesterday it was Street 49, that's parallel to ours. Please don't ask where Street 48 is because I haven't got a clue. Here are some "before" and "after" pics.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

It's Wednesday, I believe

I haven't posted for a few days, mainly because our internet was down again for several days in a row. It's TAF: the African factor.

We are following the news closely about the situation here. Every day seems to bring something new and not necessarily good. Aid workers have been abducted, then released; the ICC prosecutor wants to appeal because Mr Bashir hasn't been charged for genocide; Mr Bashir held a big rally stating that all foreign aid organisations should leave the country within a year. We are keeping our head low and waiting it out at this point.

Meanwhile, life goes on and it's business as usual. The kids started nursery with the Egyptian nuns across the street, four mornings a week. They seem to like it. Yesterday morning V and I hung out together until 11am, what a treat! First we went to get the car repaired at Mitsubishi and we had a coffee that the Hungarians would rightly call "black soup". It was dark, thick and almost chewable. But it was also very good, once we let it settle for a while. Then we had some "ful" for "breakfast" (10.30). It's a beans dish that can be prepared in a number of ways, ours was with cheese and really good. We also went to Universal Café at night. It's an Italian restaurant with really nice and rather expensive food.

Yesterday I attended my first Pilates class. Well... the class itself was really nice, but I needed to deal with the "expat woman / wife" crowd and had a hard time with that. I felt totally out of place and I really couldn't get a grip on the whole atmosphere. I also found it relatively expensive, 15 USD for a lesson?!?! It seems some ladies go there Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday and there is even a waiting list. My friend Juliet told me that I really needed to "get my foot in the door", in order to get a chance to secure myself a permanent place. I am still wondering IF I want to secure that place or not, but I'll go back next Tuesday and give it another go in any case.

And to finish this on a cheesy cross-cultural note, the other day we went to the supermarket (the "nicest" in town) and they had terrible Hungarian pop music playing. As Handsome Rob would say: UN-believable.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Changing the layout

I just changed the layout here. Those dots were getting a bit too much.

Home Care, KICS, O-Zone and the maid

Yesterday we went to Home Care. It's a small (by European standards) store with the most improbably assorted bunch of stuff you might imagine. It's got lavishly displayed china sets, pictures, rags, electric appliances, blankets, carpets, tea sets, tupperware boxes, candles, garden hose bits and pieces and a whole toy / stationary section. To my delight we found a small inflatable pool for the kids for 20$. Now we just need to buy a big carpet to put underneath, since our tiles are so slippery when wet. We also wanted to buy a frying pan to replace the charcoaled remains left behind by the previous tenants. However, when we got to the cashier's desk, we were told that we couldn't buy it because there was no price tag on it. "You can buy it tomorrow." Can't wait.

This morning we went to visit the school E will be attending from August. It's called Khartoum International Community School (KICS ) and it's run by V's company and therefore paid for our kids. Otherwise the kindergarten level tuition is about 7'000$ (US) a year for half days and no food included. High school level tuition reaches beyond 20'000$ a year. For somebody like me coming from a public and hence completely free school system, this is like the fifth dimension... Anyways, the facilities are beautiful, the staff was more than welcoming and E cried because he was not allowed to stay there. So I guess this is a good sign.

To help him get over his sadness and me to calm my rumbling stomach, we went to O-Zone for brunch. It's an ice cream shop / bakery / cake shop with a big shaded garden area. We had some coffee, sandwiches, juice, chocolate croissant and waffle. The kids loved it and they were happy to run around on the grass. I enjoyed it a lot too.

And about the maid... Well, I guess I am definitely not brave enough. V's former company's maid was available for a few days this week, so we asked her if she could come and clean the kitchen. As mentioned earlier, the whole flat is in dire need of a deep scrubbing type cleaning and while I am ok dealing with the daily mess, this needs more dedication than I am able to provide with two small needy children. So Sara washed and scrubbed our kitchen cabinets, tiles and floor for two days and now it's sparkling clean.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Brave??? Me???

Two days ago a fellow expat wife told me that I was "brave" not having a maid for another week. She also suggested I ask the housekeeper in the building to "do at least the mopping" in our flat. She sounded shocked that I might have to wash my own dishes, floors and clothes. While I sure appreciate the convenience of having somebody doing these chores instead of me, I certainly wouldn't consider it an act of utter bravery doing them myself. Funny how the limits of "brave" are defined differently according to your perspective.

The braai and the sandstorm

I love our rooftop. It is huge and it is high enough to have some view all around. We also live close to the airport, so we see a lot of planes landing. The kids enjoy this a lot. Its only issue is being paved with those shiny tiles that become treacherously slippery as soon as they are wet. The kids fell several times already.

Tonight we had nine people over for a braai. Our neighbours, some ICRC people and a WFP gentleman with three lady friends. It was good fun. Since we are the only flat with a direct access to the rooftop, we get to have a prime seat for all these events. It also makes it rather easy with the kids; when they got tired, I just quickly bathed them and put them to bed. Can't wish for any better. :-)

We've had a lot of sandy wind tonight. It's called "habub". Well, tonight wasn't too bad really, we still managed to finish our braai outside, but we had to hang on to the tablecloth and other light items to prevent them from finishing three storeys down. We'll see if it gets any worse overnight.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Back online

We haven't had any internet since last Thursday. First we thought it was some revenge after the ICC's decision, but then we discovered that the real cause was much more prosaic: the guy in charge at the office forgot to pay our bill.

It's been rather hot these days. I guess it's nowhere near how it will be in a few months, but to me and the kids it's already feeling rather warm. It is ok to be outside before 11am and after 5pm, but in between we are just cooking. I refuse to use the aircon more than absolutely necessary, and when I do switch them on, it's at 28 degrees. It already feels much cooler than the temperature outside.

I discovered that some “important” stuff was left behind, and that made me quite sad. I am missing my whole jewelry box. I also packed a “crafts” box for the kids with playdough, paint and other stuff that never made it here. And most importantly, our little pool never came either. I am rather upset about all this. I guess it's also everything combined, so I am bit more fragile, but just writing about this makes me cry. Stupid.

Our flat is coming along nicely. We rearranged the kids' room and the office. We got rid of a bunch of furniture that we took down to the empty flat on the ground floor. Now it's starting to feel a bit “home”. I am still missing a bunch of stuff that V hasn't brought home from his office, such as books.

The one issue about our flat is that it is horribly filthy. I think it's a combination of two factors beside the natural dust problem: it was empty for a long time and the people living here before were just pigs. Sorry to be a bit rude here, but I can't describe it in any other way. Both the kettle and the toaster had a thick layer of grease sticking to them. While I can kind of relate to grease on the stove, I cannot for thelife of me picture how you'd get that quantity of goo on a kettle?!?! Surely it's never been wiped or washed in its life. And that's just one example. We've been introduced to “Flush” which is supposed to be a toilet cleaner, but it cleans pretty much anything. It took off a thick layer of dirt and limescale from the bathroom tiles within seconds. I don't even want to know what's in it... It's probably killing all living organisms in the groundwater. But it is very efficient. So I've been walking around armed with a rag and have been wiping random things, such as light switches, shelves, grouts, plugs etc. Now that the furniture and stuff is mostly sorted (not quite, but we're getting there), I can make a plan for some more organized scrubbing. All the grouts are either dark brown or black. It's totally gross. But then it will take a lot of time and lot of scrubbing to clean them one by one. All the kitchen cabinets must be emptied out as well. I discovered that the walls can be washed relatively easily, so I've already cleaned a bunch of black marks off them. I also washed the covers on our chairs. Some moron thought it was a good idea to buy white chairs for Sudan. You can see every fingerprint on them. They were grey by the time they went into the washing machine, and I am not kidding myself, they won't be white for very long. But we have no other option right now.

Talking about the washing machine... what a carve up... The washing machine stopped working after the first load I put in there. The pump gacked out. We called the people in charge, they took the machine away to get fixed. That was probably Monday. On Wednesday, they brought it back, saying that it had been repaired. Still not pumping. Take it back down. (We live on the third floor, no elevator). They wanted to give us the one from downstairs, but there was some issue, so they couldn't. Anyways. Machine comes back on Thursday. We try it out, it works. People leave. Throw a load in, it doesn't work. Call people again. They take it away once again, but this time they brought the machine from downstairs. Finally. They also told us that our machine worked fine downstairs. Good on them.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The news from The Hague

So... the wait is now over. At 4pm Sudanese time, the indictment became official. Another wait begins for us: we wait to see what the reaction will be. Not nervous or afraid at this point, mere curious. I would say probably nothing "big" will happen, but then again, who knows...

Tuesday, 3 March 2009


Sitting around doing nothing is probably the single biggest challenge for any "Westerner" coming to Africa. Getting bored takes on a whole different meaning here. This morning we were supposed to have three things happening:
1) Receive our shipment from Lufthansa
2) Meet with a potential cleaning lady
3) Get our water pump fixed

Out of the three only the third one came anywhere near: we've had two guys on the roof fiddling with the water supply achieving the final result of no running water at all. I guess this means that they did do something with the pump actually. I am waiting to see if there will be any to wash the dishes with.

As for the other two, well... we just wait.

Also, since there is no water and right now all things on my to-do list have some kind of wet component, I am sitting doing nothing. Well, I am cooking lunch, which luckily doesn't involve water (no soup today) and I play with the kids. Also, I need to iron, but I can only do that when they go to bed because they are still monkeys who like to pull down stuff and I am just way too afraid they'll get burnt somehow.

Anyways, I should go and see how my potatoes and sausages are coming.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Sudan here

So... We got here. The journey was rather enjoyable, the kids were good and we even managed to eat our food and watch a Discovery channel documentary about a tunnel in Turkey before the monkeys woke up. Amazingly, the cat made it as well and it only took us about an hour to clear customs for him. We haven't really seen him since, he's been hiding under our bed. We have a nice rooftop flat, all furnished Ikea (globalisation for you!)and I really enjoy it. We have been around a little bit, but V had to work, so that didn't leave us much time. We are hoping to sort out some kind of nanny pretty soon, so that we can socialize a bit more. Small children under three don't really allow us to go out or attend any events. Yesterday we visited the Zimex people for some Coke (and other stuff for V). E ran around a bit and finally hit the tv stand, opening his upper lip and bruising his gums. There was blood everywhere. The good thing about that was that we didn't have to make long and painful explanations about why we would prefer to give a miss to the supper at that Corean restaurant... Since our flat is on the top floor, we are the direct beneficiaries of a HUGE rooftop terrace. It is supposedly accessible to everybody in the building, but as it stands nobody really uses it, except the Hash people once a month. It allows the kids to go out and play with water or just run around. E loves to water the half-dead plants out there or try and clean the thick layer of dust from the tiles. Dust is a bit of an issue. We can't really open the windows because a thin layer of red dust just covers everything within a couple of minutes, especially when there is a bit of wind. Luckily we have really easy cleaning tiles all over the flat, so I just wipe it up several times a day and it seems ok so far. The city is big and spread out. As usual, I am totally lost, my orientation skills are absolute rubbish. I need to see stuff on a map, so I think Google Earth will be my friend here. We have a Mitsubishi pickup truck to drive around. It is rather old and rattly but ok. Kids enjoy it anyways. Today V had quite some time off, so we made it to the Swiss embassy to register in the morning. We also went grocery shopping and spent over 200 dollars (ouch!!!!) on stuff like yogurt and frozen veggies. Since on Wednesday the ICC will tell about the potential indictment of the president here, we were advised to stock up on food and "be careful", whatever that means. So now we have some canned goods, pasta, soy sauce, frozen meat and cat food for the animal at the modest price of 10 dollars a box. Next time our plane goes to Europe for maintenance, I am stocking up on food. Everything is horrendously expensive and even local produce, such as fruits and veggies and dairy reach Swiss prices. What do the locals eat and where do they get it??? I need to get to the bottom of that. Can't spend this kind of money on food on a regular basis. Anyways, I should go and get some supper on the way, it's almost 9pm... Kids finally seem asleep.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Ice Palace


My parents were over this afternoon and we went to see the Ice Palace up towards Schwarzsee. There's this guy who makes up this ice / light thing each year. It was good fun and the kids very much enjoyed running around, going through ice tunnels, up and down the stairs and sharing a sausage with the local mutt before we came home. Here is a picture of Zina. She's such a total cutie dressed up like this.
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Monday, 19 January 2009

Monday here

OK, so what did I get done today? Vin left this morning at 5.30am and I didn't really manage to go back to sleep after that. My head was packed with questions and stuff to be done and how to get organized... So when Zina woke up and asked for her milk around 6.15am, I got up for good. I dropped them off at daycare (mental note: tomorrow I have to call the town council and tell them to clean off the ice from the access paths to the crèche, it's really slippery and very dangerous), then came home and started making phone calls. I had to go back to daycare for 9.30 to talk about the kids and obviously it's all good. They are both progressing well, they are smart, clever, cute and beautiful (being totally objective here). After that I went to Yverdon for my last day there and had lunch with all the friends. It was really nice and I enjoyed being able to say goodbye to all. Then back here and back to my phone calls. I had to battle with various technical and human issues, but here is the end result:
- the car is being sold on Friday, either I'll have to take it, or they'll come and fetch it, to be determined tomorrow
- my mother is brining me a rental car on Thursday morning. This took me several hours to figure out, as the "cheap" rental agency had some issues with their phone and was totally unreachable. Then finally my mom drove there, but they had no cars, so I had to find another cheap option and I finally did. :-)
- the lease company is sending me the final invoice tomorrow and thank God, the garage that is buying the car agreed to take care of all the formalities, so I have absolutely nothing to deal with anymore on that level
- changed my appointment with the osteopath, I'm going tomorrow because my back is hurting and now my left foot is hurting, probably because I am walking crooked. I'm feeling like some 90 year old...
- changed the end of our cable TV subscription to the end of February, so the kids will have something to watch (and we'll have some peace and quiet)

On the less fun side, Marlène was transferred to Fribourg hospital and she is really down. She is now talking of refusing the treatments proposed to her... I am hoping she'll change her mind, but she really sounded depressed on the phone. I'll call her again tomorrow. I can't go for a visit because I have to go to osteopath. :-(

Tomorrow the kids are off to daycare again, so in the morning I'll try and clean up the desk and start getting all the papers together for the taxes. Fun-fun... :-S I'll have to get some cleaning done too. Then off to osteopath, then fetch kids and the day is over again...

Ok, now for the trivia: Where the heck is my mouse???? Some kid took it to play with it and I haven't been able to find it for 3 days! So tomorrow I'll go mouse hunting, it must be under a bed or hidden in a tractor.