Highlights, a new baby, and 10 things I miss about the US

It’s been an eventful few months and in the past 6 months we’ve been in four different countries and had a baby!  A few highlights:

  • We had an amazing family vacation in Zanzibar. We got a lot of interesting comments and looks from the staff because they don’t usually get tourists who are 35 weeks pregnant!


  • After Zanzibar, we spent 6 weeks in Nairobi. It was great to have time with family and friends while we waited for the arrival of our baby.
  • Joel Edmund Muigai was born at Eve’s Mama birth center on April 16th after a 36 hour labor!! (I was hoping he would be a short labor since the other two were so long, but no luck!) One of the reasons we wanted to deliver at Eve’s Mama was so that we could have a waterbirth.  Amazingly, for the first time since the birth center opened, there was an issue with the water and there was no water in the building!!!  My amazing husband and wonderful midwife actually carried bucket after bucket of water from the outside tap up a flight of stairs to fill up the birth tub, then the midwife heated it one bucket a time with an electric coil.  I was so, so grateful.  Joel was born in the water at around 9 in the morning, and the children had slept at the birth center so they woke up just in time to meet their new brother.
  • Joel1
  • JOel 2
  • joel3
  • Joel is handsome, healthy, and happy and has been a fun and wonderful addition to our family.  Although Nathan took a bit of time to warm up to Joel (that’s a nice way of saying he was attached to me like Velcro, hit/threw things at Joel, fought with his sister, and had major meltdowns!), he is now just as enamored with his brother as the rest of us and is thankfully back to his normal sweet self!nathanandjoel
  • We headed back to Uganda when Joel was 2 weeks old, and then spent about 6 weeks in Uganda before heading to the US to introduce Joel to my family.
  • We had an incredible time in the US! It was so fun to have Joel meet all of my family, and Natalie and Nathan had a blast with the grandparents, cousins, and friends.  Our days were filled with swimming, riding bikes, gymnastics, going to parks, playing with toys, great conversations, good food, too much ice cream, and a really fun mountain vacation in Seven Springs, PA.
  • IMG_1786 IMG_1805 IMG_1809 IMG_1815 IMG_1828


    My family joked that we had to give the new baby a “Nat…” name since both Natalie and Nathan start with Nat. So they jokingly call him “Natcheau” (pronounced Nacho) and got him this lovely shirt!

  • My wonderful sister Kelly came to visit us for a week before we left for the US, so she flew with us to the US and thankfully I didn’t have to fly with all three kids by myself! The children actually traveled very well, and Kelly was so helpful (I’m sure it was the least restful travel she has had ever but she didn’t complain).  If I had had to travel by myself, I might have had a nervous breakdown in the Amsterdam airport and someone would have had to come rescue me!
  • IMG_1256
  • We got back to Uganda in mid August and I went back to work part time. Joel comes with me to the office for now which I love.  At least I get to see his smiling face from time to time which makes being back at work so much easier.
  • Natalie and Nathan started school at the end of August. Natalie is in grade 2 (the US equivalent of grade 1 since they don’t have kindergarten) and Nathan is in preschool.  Natalie has been having a great year so far and loves her teacher and her friends in class.  Nathan is having a harder time adjusting to school but is slowly making progress.
  • school1 school2

And now here are the 10 things I miss most since coming back from the US (in no particular order):

  1. My family
  2. Riding bikes and scooters on sidewalks, and taking walks on the trails
  3. Electric dryers and dishwashers (it was amazing that dirty clothes and diapers could be washed, dried, and ready to wear in less than 2 hours! We line dry our laundry here so it takes a day to dry (or more if it’s a rainy day) and then we have to iron most things because of mango flies)
  4. Chipotle, Panera, Big Bowl, and Sweet frog!!
  5. My family and friends
  6. Super fast unlimited internet and being able to watch videos online and download things quickly
  7. Summer berries, corn on the cob, my mom’s chicken vegetable soup, and mint chocolate chip ice cream
  8. Being able to leave the house and lock up quickly. Because our househelp Ruth is often at home, we don’t usually leave the house empty.  But when we do it’s a very long process to get out the door!!  The steps are:
    1. Get kids ready and bags packed
    2. Find cats and put them in the garage (so they don’t activate the alarm)
    3. Put the dog in her pen (so she doesn’t run out of the gate when we open it)
    4. Get kids in car
    5. Hide computers and valuables and lock the bedroom door
    6. Set the alarm
    7. Lock the house
    8. Open the gate
    9. Drive out of the gate
    10. Close the gate
    11. Release the dog
    12. Lock the gate
    13. Leave
  9. Tons of fun activities for the kids including bouncy places, gymnastics, amusement parks, water parks, neighborhood parks, etc
  10. Did I mention my family??? I wish Kampala was a little closer to Ashburn, or that I could convince my parents to retire in Kampala and convince my sisters to relocate!!

One thought on “Highlights, a new baby, and 10 things I miss about the US

  1. Great piece of discourse Valary! I too identify with the steps of # 8, but we do not have alarm to set, or a cat to put in the garage. Our dog does not leave the compound at all. The others are synonymous to most any African families. Continue writing.

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