SugarHouse Mama

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Maui

For our Christmas present, my mom took us all over to Maui. We stayed in an amazing resort and went on a whale tour boat. The only downer - it wasn't long enough. We all loved it and agreed that an additional day or two would have made it the bees knees. Not that it wasn't the bees knees, because it was. It would have been even more bees knees - bigger bees knees.

We stopped by the Maui Aquarium because we had some time before check-in. It was good, but I like the one on Oahu just as well and it's cheaper. Robert and Adjoa were posing for a picture and the woman next to us told her son she wanted to take his picture too. He said "OK!" and then ran over and joined Adjoa and Robert. It was so funny. The mom was totally embarrassed. So if you see a random boy with Robert and Adjoa at the aquarium, you'll know who it is.

Our whale tour was with the Pacific Whale Foundation. There was a TON of awesome activity during our trip out. We saw a mom and baby do a double breech, lots of surface activity like flipper slaps and tail slaps and a whale breached about 30 yards from the boat. We were right in front and had an awesome view. A co-tourist got it on vid, so I'll post that. You can hear me screaming and Nana and Pa talking. It's pretty cool. Not that we are talking - the whale part of it is what's cool. I did get some fun pictures of the whale, and I got a vid of one that was further away.

After the breach that was in front of our boat, every time we saw something Adjoa would say, "It wasn't big enough, mommy!"

A funny story - one evening Robert and I went out to walk along the beach and I told Adjoa she needed to brush her teeth while we were gone. I told her she needed to be ready for bed when we got back. {She stayed behind in the suite with Nana and Pa} Pa was in the shower and she kept trying to go into the bathroom. Nana kept getting after her, telling Adjoa she needed to wait until Pa was done. Adjoa kept saying something, but Nana didn't catch it. Finally, Adjoa broke down - Nana asked when she was getting so upset.

She said, "I'm going to be in big, big trouble."
"Why?" asked Nana.
"Because mommy told me to do something. I have to brush my teeth or I'm going to be in big-big trouble."

Funny girl. At least she understands that she need to do what she's been asked.



Slide show of Maui


Vid of Big Whale Breach



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Whale activity further away.



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Really cool Banyan Tree near the docks


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Secret Vid of Pa doing a funny dance to entertain Adjoa.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Another Christmas

When we arrived, Nana and Pa had a few Christmas presents for Adjoa. She was starting to get the hang of it and it was cute to watch her.

The first couple days were spent relaxing with minimal sight seeing. Just as Robert requested.

We visited the Birthing Stones - they are right in the middle of a sugar cane field. The sign at this site says chiefs and chiefesses came to this site for the birth of their children. A child born here was assured high-ranking status.

My mom has the Oahu Revealed guidebook {it's excellent, by the way} and here's what it says about these stones:

Royal birthing procedures were different from what commoners went through. When the time came, the woman would arrive at what was then a secret spot, and in the presence of 36 male chiefs she would position herself at certain stones
Lei offering at Oahu Birthing stones
and in certain ways to give birth while they watched. (Gee, that must have created quite the awkward moment…) Within minutes of birth the child was taken away, and the mother would not see her child again until it was grown. This was to ensure that the child would not be murdered. Infanticide in high-ranking families was common among rival chiefs.

My mom wanted me to sit on the stones so she could take a picture. There were quite a few people around and I was a little embarrassed, so my dad did. She asked me again, and I declined. So Robert, my kind, considerate, loving husband yells, "Get on the birthin' stones, Jessica!" I was embarrassed - mortified, really - but finally decided it would be better than another public humiliation.

I also took a couple pictures of a nice, vibrant sunset on the beach.


Friday, December 25, 2009

A {Quick} Christmas


We had a very quick Christmas and then headed off to Hawaii to visit Nana and Pa. Adjoa opened a few presents and I managed to snap a pic and take a vid before it blazed by.

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Aren't her Christmas Eve jammies the cutest??? They were called Partridge in a Pear Tree. She loved them and insisted on taking them to Hawaii. She'll be soooo hot, but oh well!

I thought I might be able to sneak by this year without really doing all the Christmas stuff - it's easier when your child has never experienced Christmas.

Our Thanksgiving week in Seattle killed that hope. Rus put up the tree and the kids got to help - Adjoa was so excited and enthralled by the beauty of the tree, I felt obligated to decorate at our house too. And of course, a tree isn't a tree without some presents underneath! I Wrapped up a few things I had purchased prior, and I made a quick dash to the store after I got home from Ghana.

It was fun - but what was MORE fun??? Hoping on a plane and heading to Hawaii.

We all decided it would be ok with us if Nana and Pa stayed in Hawaii. It doesn't seem so lavish when you say you are going to visit your parents!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from Ghana!

I took this sweet vid of some school children practicing Christmas songs. I think it's such an appropriate image of Christmas: endearing little voices in Africa singing about the birth of the Savior of the world, asking us all to adore Him.

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Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

News from Ghana

Lois and I went to Ghana for a couple weeks - it was AMAZING. We got so much accomplished and there has been so much growth and development at Luckyhill and the school since I was there last.

We didn't get to spend much time at the school - we had meetings and appointments in Accra nearly every day, and I regret not being able to spend more time with the children, but we made huge strides in their future well-being and the development of the community. After the first of the year, I will be busy writing proposals for various non-profit organizations at work in Ghana, hopefully persuading them to come out and work at the school and community. The next couple years are going to be very exciting for Luckyhill!

The school now provides regular, full-time employment to about 20 people in the community, and we had the opportunity to meet with many other members of the community who do periodic work or construction work there. It is such a blessing in my life to work for a cause that makes a difference to so many lives. The school is truly a blessing for the entire community.

Here are a couple projects in the works {because I know you are dying to know}:

Here's some land near the school we have picked out. We want to buy it and start a community garden. It's large enough we also plan to have space for some animals to be kept. The garden and animals will greatly improve the nutrition of many members of the community - decreasing disease and lowering the high death rate. Excess products from the garden and animals will be sold, creating more family income for many of the impoverished families in the area. We hope to start the project with 30-50 families from the community, and then eventually spread it across the entire area, including as many families as we can.


Before:


{Almost} After:

Thanks to the generous work of two amazing men, the toilet situation at the school has vastly improved. Previously, all the children would just potty on the ground {note the pee spots surrounding the model in the first picture}. This is pretty typical in Ghana, as in most third-world countries. For obvious reasons, this is highly unsanitary - especially since most children don't own {or wear} shoes. We had two wonderful men work together with a Ghanaian engineer and his firm in Ghana to install two biofil digesters. They are pretty amazing. After about 3 years, they just scoop out the toilet and can use the nutrient-rich sand to help fertilize. We didn't get to see them finished, but the firm was hard at work installing them while we were there.


We have a major goal this year to begin providing a free lunch to all the school children {about 300}. Nearly all the families that attend the school are destitute, and the only meal the children receive is at school. Currently, many of the children are able to eat for free {determined by the school on who is in the most need} but we'd like to make sure every child has the opportunity to eat and is not expected to pay. All the families could certainly use the lunch money for other things - like providing dinner for the child too. We have also begun a scholarship program for deserving students whose parents cannot afford tuition (less than $50 a year). The program has begun to take off, and we have been able to provide many students with education they would not otherwise receive.


We are having additional running-water showers and toilets built for the children's home that is adjacent to the school. This is a home for school children who are orphaned, abandoned, or their families are so destitute they can no longer support the children. We have about 20 children who stay here, and 6-7 adults who provide full-time care and supervision. It's an amazing opportunity that keeps these older children off the street and in school. They learn valuable skills and get lots of English-speaking practice. Our greatest desire is to aide and assist these children - the children who will never have any other home - so they can eventually go out into the world and work and provide for their own families in the future.


So. That's what we were working on during our two weeks in Ghana. There are more projects and ideas, of course, but that's just a taste of what is to come!

So here's my unabashed plug for financial assistance:

If you would like to be a part of the growth and development of a little school and community in Ghana, please visit the Luckyhill International Foundation, Inc. website


and donate today. Currently, we are taking donations for the scholarship program and the nutrition program. If you'd like to donate to one of the other projects mentioned above, or would like to donate a different amount than listed on the website, you can send a check to:

Luckyhill International Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 521896
Salt Lake City, UT 84152


Thank you to everyone who has assisted in the growth of Luckyhill and the school this past year! It has been amazing!

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Week of Thanksgiving

We spent the week of Thanksgiving in Seattle with Robert's sibs. It was a blast! We had so much fun being around {a portion of} the family. Adjoa LOVED it. She had so many cousins to play with every day and she fit right in.

She took to all the people and attention and even chaos like a duck to water. It was amazing. She's amazing, really. I hope she always feels that natural and easy around people.

Anyway, the highlights were captured by Rus and Kristy, and feature in the slide show below.

Keep your eyes out for the very popular {for Adjoa, anyway} Cinderella dress {I'm pretty sure she wore it every day}, moments after Adjoa bit her tongue for the umpteenth time, the new{!} baby, hard core gamers, hard core rock banders, Adjoa's first Christmas Tree, the ever popular Olivia {or as Adjoa has taken to calling her - "the little one". As opposed to Eliana who is the big one I guess} and of course, a very yummy dinner!



We had a blast Seattle!

I want to move.