(I've changed the name from "Rants" given that I can't really rant about many things that frustrate me here, at least not without getting into some sort of trouble. As such, you'll have to wait for the book.)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Christmas 2016

I suppose that there is good justification for the lack of blog postings. My job is now heavily focused on a severe drought that has the potential of becoming a full on famine. It’s all hands on deck as
we scale up our programming. Consequently I’m not finding a lot of leisure time. I do what I can to be full on dad and husband when I’m with the family. Otherwise, I have a lot going on.

I need, however, to go back to Christmas break. In my desire to have a relatively complete documentation of the key events, that’s one that I cannot omit.

Kinaya catching snowflakes
The trip began with a couple weeks in Indiana. That has been our pattern the past several years. The time with family there is generally low-key and a nice way to make a break from the intensity the months of October-December. 
example of parent teaching a kid something he doesn't know how to do
We spend a fair amount of time balancing time at the house with family and getting the children out and about such that they don’t go stir crazy. There is also the last minute Christmas shopping (or in my case the first and last minute). 
the don
We took the girls ice skating for the first time. I’m a pathetic skater so it was all I could do to stay on my feet while propping up each of the kids. This is probably how it begins – children now starting to learn to do things that I won’t be able to do as well. Up to a certain age, you can do pretty much anything better than your children. I can see the day coming, though, when they start to surpass me in things. First it will be French. Then it will be math. Science. I’ve been telling Priya that they’ll never be able to beat me in a foot race. She begs to differ.
Christmas Eve
The Christmas holiday was quite nice. The girls are older and they are understanding and enjoying the holiday traditions. It’s a bit of a strange life they lead compared to the way I was raised. We didn’t really have our own traditions in Bujumbura and for the most part we didn’t ever really get around to putting up decorations. We normally leave around the second week of December and then we are “on the road” basically until we return in early January. So their holiday traditions are limited to whatever happens at their grandparents'. 

They’re also faced with a blend of European and American traditions. At school they met Saint Nicolas who is not quite the same as Santa Claus. And who these men are and what they do has been a bit chaotically meshed together and frankly doesn’t add up very well. We’ll need to get our stories straight soon or just abandon the whole thing. But the traditions are fun for kids (at least they were for me) and we feel an obligation to maintain them in some form or another.
serious lamb shank
We were also able to sneak in a trip to St. Louis to see friends that we knew in Burundi. It's the second time we've visited them and, added to the fun, was the presence of other friends of ours from those days who happened to be en route from Denver to Chicago. So we all met up - weird of course being all together in the US.

The day after Christmas we made our way to Idaho. The weather cooperated and for the most part we didn’t have too many challenges either by plane or by vehicle. Other than smacking into a deer in rural Indiana (and needing to swap out rental cars) we were quite fortunate with our winter travels. 
We started in Idaho with a quick stay in Boise before heading to the ski town of McCall. Most of my family was there for fun in the snow. It was a very nice time with good snow and we were able to get the two girls up on skis – Kinaya for the first time. The weather was nice and happily it was a pleasant experience that I suspect they’ll want to do again next year. Hopefully. 
sister's new place - pretty cool, me thinks
Before heading up there I wasn't sure where we were going to stay. I was just told that we didn't need to get a hotel. Lo and behold, my sister and brother-in-law had closed on a big cabin in the mountains and had set it up just in time for the holidays. Pretty amazing place, we were there for the next couple of days while we enjoyed the deep, wonderful snow.

my little girl's second year on the slopes

We then headed south to Boise for my family's Christmas party. Once my siblings started having families of their own, Christmas Day became more of a thing for the new families to celebrate and the larger family began gathering several days later. When Priya and I were married, this worked out well for us since that gave us an opportunity to spend half the holidays (including Christmas Day) with them and half the holidays with my family in Idaho - not missing the big gathering of the latter.

This year we had it at my sister's place in Boise. The condominium complex has a shared space that we reserved. Worked out well as our numbers have grown over the years. The downside of the family growth is that there are only two children. Ours. Everyone has grown up and the nieces and nephews have yet to produce any offspring. So it's a bit tough for them (and us) not to have any other kids to play with. I'm sensing right now that as the nieces and nephews are taking their time having their own families, our girls will move from children to tweens and will by then probably not want anything to do with the next phase of rugrats. 

After the night in Boise, we headed south to my parent's place. It's always been a haven of peace for me. Always nice to hang out with my parents. It's super quiet. It's easy. Everything is relatively close. It's what a "bedroom community" is supposed to be I guess. Plus the house is big and we can spread out. As the last stop on the busy holiday season travels, it's the calm before the storm.

Soon we would be saying our farewells and heading to Boise for the flight home. Have to say, it was an excellent trip. You always can find a thing or two that could have been done differently but by and large it was what we could have hoped for. Sad to bid farewell to family but my guess is that we will be planning for the next vacation not long after arriving in Nairobi. Okay by me.

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