Sunday, October 28, 2012

Little Engineer

My parents are here in Ghana and it is SO AWESOME! We are having a nice visit and time is going by very quickly.  They have been relaxing, taking lots of pictures, meeting our friends and playing with Joshua.  (Dad has even learned to play "Super Mario".)

One of the first things we did was celebrate Joshua's birthday (again).

Above, Joshua is sporting a really cool train whistle and engineer hat from Grandma and Granddad Edwards.  They bought it when we were on the White Pass and Yukon route in Alaska earlier this year. 

Of course the best present of all is simply having them here.  Look at that smile!!!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Birthday Bliss

Joshua had a fabulously fun fourth birthday last week.  Dave took the day off from work and we played all day.
 Joshua got to be in charge and he was very happy to insist that Daddy play "Super Mario" on the Wii.

His first present of the day was from our good friends on site Krissy, Slade and Jack. It's Joshua's first cricket set. Did you know Littleton has a group that plays cricket at a park near our house? 

Then the dogs got into the presents giving mood and Joshua received some "Match Box" cars.

Joshua's cousin Anthony and his family sent along a very cool pirate puzzle and fun book that were a definite hit with Joshua!

We let Joshua pick out food for his birthday supper.  We had french fries, quesidillas, and "Kool-Aid". (French fries are a very big deal because he never gets to eat them with everybody else here in Ghana.  There is too big of a risk that peanut oil was used in the fryer at some point.)
We had a super hero cake thanks to our dear friend Jamie who sent along special cake pans and supplies for special occasions.
Then we opened the rest of the presents including a cool boat from Mommy and Daddy.

After playing with the new toys for a bit, it was time for a good night's sleep. Joshua was disappointed the next morning when he didn't get to dictate the day again.  Only 362 days to go until next time my dear boy!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Checking in

I haven't kept you up to date!  Shame on me!  Some of the ex-pats have come back to site from travels and life became "busy".  Busy is certainly a relative term.  Here it consists of getting up in the morning to meet all of Joshua's needs before walking, then pool time, then home in time to prepare lunch, then teaching preschool a la Mommy, then perhaps some tea with the ladies, then cooking supper and finally fun time with Daddy. Last night Dave was in Accra so Joshua and I had movie night.  We watched Madagascar 3 and I thought it was a good show. Tomorrow is Joshua's 4th birthday so I will take pictures and post more on Friday.  It is a simple family day but we will certainly have F-U-N!

Monday, October 8, 2012


So when was the last time you were shocked in the shower (and not the good, 50 Shades kind of shocked)?  Anyone, anyone?  Why would I ask such a strange question you wonder?  I mean getting shocked in the bath could be deadly right?  Well….  I was shocked by our plumbing on Saturday and lived to tell you about it.

I was trying to figure out why life had been extremely boring and then I remembered – we have had workers in the house every day since last Thursday trying to fix our electricity.  All of the lights in the house are on the same breaker switch. The switch decided to continually turned off the lights.
The maintenance crew on-site has been extremely responsive.  The first day they were here and suspected a light bulb.  It was that Christmas tree light theory – one light bulb out and the whole string goes. They checked all the bulbs and replaced a couple.  It didn’t fix the problem.
The next day, they were able to recreate the issue (because it just got worse and the lights would hardly stay on more than 5 minute). They completely rewired the lights and switches in the house.  That fixed the switch “trip” issue but unfortunately one of the wires wasn’t grounded well enough.  When I added water to the ungrounded wire during my shower and touched the plumbing – ahhhhhhh!  The really scary thing is I had just given Joshua a shower before I hopped in for mine!
The crew came RIGHT away and fixed the shock issue but unfortunately the fix also took out all of the electricity to the side of the house that supports things like the stove, washer and dryer.  Back out they came and I am happy to report that we have been maintenance free today.

What else?
It’s hard for me to believe that in just over 2 weeks, my parents will be here for a visit.  It’s even harder to believe that Joshua turns 4 next week!  He’s growing so fast.  We packed presents in our crate so he will have a couple of nice surprises on the big day. I usually bake a very fancy cake but I am not sure I am going to be up for the challenge here.  I have some great supplies so I will probably fake it and we’ll all just pretend that it’s fabulous.  It’s kind of like we still pretend we have no idea where Joshua is hiding.  Can you find him?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

These flip-flops are made for walking

We have taken up our daily walks again and boy am I glad. The dogs started becoming serious escape artists so I decided it was better to have them exploring with me than without.  Plus,  I love walking and sometimes I forget that it's a great activity for many reasons.

Above are an assortment of flowers that Joshua picked for me today.
Joshua is very proud to walk a dog by himself. We bought no-pull harnesses before we left CO and they really, really work.  I still take over if I see a hazard and every time we leave the house we talk about what he should do to keep his body safe if he's in charge. Joshua normally walks Tate because Tate is more his size and they RUN!
The last two days have been too rainy in the afternoons to swim.  If it were a CO rain and there was no sign of lightening, we would still go.  Joshua goes stir crazy around 3 if we don't do something.  We have a Wii exercise game we play and that helps a bit. Yesterday, I let him ride his bike in the house.  I have roller skates but am fearful of a broken bone.  I am sure that will pass soon enough.  I have pads and a helmet and he's had lessons so...
Out-of-focus but you get the idea.
Now shall I walk
or shall I ride?
"Ride," Pleasure said:
"Walk," Joy replied.
~W.H. Davies

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Shhhhh - the place is sleeping

Isn't it funny how some of our greatest late night worries often turn from fraught to naught? It is so, so quiet on site right now. There are no other expat families with kids. They either don't exist or they are on leave. When the last family pulled out a week ago, I was very concerned for Joshua and really for me too. I was afraid of being bored and lonely. On top of them leaving, Dave was a traveling fool so Joshua and I were alone a lot and I was depressed. Then, as often happens, I consciously invited God into the room, changed my thinking about the situation and life got fun again.

We went in search of adventure and tried a bunch of new things and games.  We played on other people’s yard equipment (we were invited).  We switched up preschool from practical to more play and have been working on a curriculum about castles, knights, dragons and I included pirates. We invite the local kids over when they get home from school by putting balls in front of our house and filling up water bottles with cold water.  
Swinging with Jennifer
Here Joshua is a prince trying to score points by hitting a bulls-eye with rocks.  I think this is a celebration face but he told me it was him heading to a time-out which is possible.

Joshua is making a go of baseball while the other kids are playing their version of cricket.  Eventually the older boys take over and a game of soccer starts.

IT also helps to make a point of swimming every day and playing lots of water games with Joshua on top of getting in some exercise.  We even got Jennifer into the pool for the first time in her life!  She had a blast and I felt so proud that I looked what I perceived as convention in the face and invited her.
There are still lonely moments and by the time I see Dave, I am exhausted and craving adult conversation. I feel like I did when I first made the switch from working outside the home to care for Joshua.  No diapers or puke or bottles and LOTS more sleep, but the feelings of isolation are the same.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Forgot About Pizza Delivery

True Story – I forgot there was such a thing as pizza delivery!  Joshua and I are heading home for a visit earlier than expected because I need some follow-up doctor visits and I refuse to go back to a place I don’t speak the language for care.  Since we’ll be there shortly after his 4th birthday and because “mommy guilt” is my middle name, I have decided to put together a small kids’ party while we are in Colorado.  I was talking to Dave about food and said something like we are going to be screwed because he won’t be there to go get the pizza.  Dave quickly corrected me by pointing out that Pizza Hut and other chains are happy to help me out.  Holy Crap – I totally forgot about that luxury!!!  34 days and counting until we take off and I will be reminded of all in person.

So here’s a typical big Saturday night in Bogoso…

We eat something non-eventful.  Last night I used my supply of Rotel, refried beans and taco seasonings to make beef and bean burritos served with canned corn from home.


Then we sit on the floor and play with Joshua’s toys while the dogs sleep.


To wrap up our eventful evening we watch “The Muppets”.  By the way, the show is totally worth watching again.  Dave and I really get a kick out of the episodes that feature someone we actually recognize.  Alice Cooper was especially fun! I am not as pleased to be cast as Miss Piggy to Dave's Kermit by our little man.  He likes to be Fozzy.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Rainy day fun

Yesterday it rained too much to go to the pool or do the other things I had planned outside. Around 3 the downpour came in earnest. We were sick of being inside so it was time to get W-E-T! I grabbed Joshua and the dogs and went out back.  The dogs were especially excited until my intentions became known - bathtime - then they weren't as pleased to be part of our fun! It really does rain hard enough so that all we needed to do was soap them up and let nature do the rest.

 Wet (and stinky) Jeremiah

I couldn't take my camera out to capture the true moment but this will give you an idea.  Part of Joshua's fun was finding the places where water was running off the roof the hardest, filling containers and throwing the water at the dogs (or me).

Tate was having none of it and found a safe place to watch.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Joshua really enjoys talking on Skype.

Joshua and Dave Skyping with Grandma Kay.

If he can't see your face then he's not interested.  Unfortunately he has figured out that there is a "facetime" button on our phones.  It's an iPhone feature that is similar to Skype.  Whenever we put the phone on speaker so he can be a part of the conversation his quick little fingers reach for the option.  It would be great if we were in the States but we're not.  Normally it just ends the call and we may or may not get another connection to finish the conversation.  Phone communication is much, much better than it was even 5 years ago when Dave first started coming here but it is still unreliable.  Skpye is the same.  When it works, even just the voice option, the sounds quality is great.  Unfortunately, the African Internet can be fickle so there's no way to guarantee we can get on.  Oh - and then there's the whole power thing involved with the Internet :) Power outages are a fact of life here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Singing in the Rain!

Sorry that I was missing in action this week. Dave had to travel 3 of the 5 days so I was too busy being trying to entertain Joshua and stay sane to spend much time on the computer.

One of my favorite things this week was playing in the rain. Have you ever experienced a tropical downpour? The rain is warm and comes down in droves. The sound on our tin roof was loud, like that of a locomotive barreling down the track (our Joshua playing the drums).  I rescued Joshua from his “rest time”, put on our galoshes, grabbed our umbrellas and headed outside to play.

Even with umbrellas, our clothes got wet.  Joshua took off his shirt and I stepped under the carport.

When he got cold, we changed him into his frog rain coat.
The road that runs next to our house turned into a river.  After the rains, it turned back to mud very, very quickly.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Last week when I was chatting with my Mom she asked if we were able to get milk here.  It made me think you would like to see some of the basic living differences between our lives in Bogoso, Ghana and Littleton, Colorado. 
Milk: We drink it out of a box that has been sitting on a shelf for a long time.  I know you can get fresh milk that is safe to drink in Accra, but not here.  I don't like the taste but will use it on cereal or cooking.  Joshua likes it and will drink as much as I allow.

Yogurt: It also sits on a shelf and doesn't need refrigeration.  I like the taste of the yogurt - even the kind that has no fat.  We have also have it frozen it for a special treat.

Brown Sugar:  I just find the reference to the big "J" in the name fun here.  Christianity is the mainstream religion in Ghana and it shows up almost everywhere. A lot of people like to tell Joshua the story of his namesake from the Bible.  Ghanaians are also amused that we named our dog "Jeremiah" and always ask after him if he is not with me.  I think if I were to tell them he is actually named after a "Three Dog Night" song, there may be tears involved.

Electrical Outlets: This is what the typical plug looks like.  There is on "on / off" switch to each outlet.  If it shows red then it is on.  Nobody seems shy about doing their own electric work here.  If you happen to buy a tool (let's say a blender) that has the wrong type of plug, they simply cut off the wrong one and rewire it so it will work. Seems like a bit scary practise to me.  It might be why they have conducted 2 mandatory fire safety classes this month.

The Toilet:  It has two types of flush options.  One is for pee and uses less water and the other is for the other.  This is the VERY first thing Joshua wanted to show me about our house.

The Bed: This is a picture of our American "king" size mattress on the Ghanaian "king" size bed frame.  hmmmm....  One of there things in not like the other.  We make do with a very, very high bed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bugs, bugs, bugs

Go figure!  There are a lot of bugs in the middle of a rain forest.  It’s a constant battle to keep ourselves safe from the obvious ones like mosquitoes, killer bees, fleas, mites, parasites and biting ants.  My very least favorite are the swimming scorpions that seem to come out of nowhere on a hunt for human meat.  They are not poisonous but we think the bite would hurt especially a little one so we search the pool diligently before swimming.  I have only seen one so far. Oh – the giant cockroach above the bed a few nights ago was fun.  (I’ve seen bigger in Texas so aside from finding it above our bed, not such a big deal to me)

There are some very beautiful butterflies and I find the giant snails fascinating. Here are some pictures for you to, um... enjoy.
Slowly, slowly, oh so slowly, goes the giant snail...
Quicky, quickly, oh so quickly goes the giant millipede
Not sure what this flying creature is, but he is beautiful.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tears and Tissues

I must admit, the home sickness has set in.  I miss my family and friends and the easy life of the USA. It really hits home how far away we are when I read about the Summerset Festival at Clement Park and Columbine United Church’s Rally Day and the start of Preschool (plus the start of Mommy coffee hour). Today I also miss the community of remembrance surrounding 9/11.

It’s not all tears and tissues here!  We had such a fun weekend at the golf club’s annual picnic.  There was fabulous company, food, laughter and games.  Below are a couple of pictures of Joshua and Dave having a great time participating!

It might seem that we are living the easy life given the pictures I post and the fun things I write about plus we employ people to help with our house and yard. Reality is, it is work just to do simple things. When our employees have time off then it is A LOT of work for me to manage the house. Last week Jennifer told me she had to take tests for college and would be gone on Thursday and Friday. We thought it a BRILLIANT reason to miss work and were happy to fend for ourselves! Now I am tired AND missing you all.
That being said, we count our blessings daily for the many things we obviously have but others living less than a mile away do not. We have running water, electricity (most of the time) a roof over our heads that also provides air-conditioning, and transportation.  We have the means to travel, buy ample food that we like, utilize the Internet, receive top-notch medical care, and, and, and...  We are very, very fortunate. While I may complain, I am also ever mindful that we are the “haves”.  Every day I cook lunch for Jennifer and Earnest knowing it may be the only meal they have during the day.  It is humbling.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Daily Hubbub

Preschool a la Mommy started this week at our house.  I have a great curriculum and lots of supplies thanks to my Mom who really hooked us up.  It's certainly a challenge but Joshua is enjoying the activities and it gives me a focused way to play for a bit each day.  We are currently working through a session on changing environments. Joshua likes calling me teacher instead of Mom during "school". 

We've done our normal stuff too like going for walks, playing on the golf course and swimming.

Joshua also really enjoyed playing dress-up and putting on puppet shows for me and the dogs this week.  Below, he dressed Jeremiah up as an "old lady" - his term - to go with his Batman.  Yes, that is a pair of his underwear on my poor dog's head.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Haircut and quick trip to Wassa

This morning Jennifer and I took Joshua into Bogoso to get his haircut. Joshua picked a very short cut. For a moment I thought he might go bald like his Uncle Mel and Granddad Edwards but he pointed to a picture that left him a little something all over. He did a lovely job sitting still for the barber and looks very handsome. The barber was very pleased to get 5 Cede (or about $2.50 American dollars).

Joshua at a Bogoso barbershop.

Jennifer honored me with a meeting with her dad. It was no surprise that he is a very joyful man. Jennifer is his youngest child and only daughter. I told him he has done a very good job indeed and he told me to take good care of her.

Yesterday, Joshua, the dogs and I tagged along on a business trip to another of the company's mining communities called Wassa.  Traveling so soon after Accra seemed a bit crazy but our house was scheduled for a quarterly bug spray and we needed to leave for at least 2 hours after the spray.  (Once the compound they use is dry, it is perfectly safe.) To Wassa, it was about a 2 hour drive on a dirt road through the jungle. It was a beautiful drive other than suffering through bumps.  This time I took Dramamine so I wouldn't have to deal with getting car sick.  It worked for me but not our dog, Tate.  Poor guy was miserable on the way there (he was fine coming home).

Dave worked all day and the rest of us were left to explore the community on our own .


Joshua balancing on the sidewalk barriers.
The Wassa clubhouse.
Wassa has a nice pool with a waterfall but we didn't swim as planned. Instead, we walked and talked to a lot of people who worked on site.  Joshua and Jeremiah charmed people and we had nice chats with a lot of Ghanaians.  We didn't meet any of the expats and Dave promised to think ahead and set-up some socials for us when we go again. The company put us up in an apartment for the day and Joshua took a super long nap before we headed back to Bogoso.  Hands-down, my favorite thing about the day was our driver, Phillip.  He is just a very genuinely nice guy and I really enjoyed chatting with him about Ghana, his family, rubber trees, bumpy roads, and everything in between.

Phillip (today at the barbershop)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My First "Shop" in Accra

Hello!  I've been off the Internet a bit while traveling to and from Accra for my first "shop".  It wasn't an easy trip and I came home with a bit of sickness.  (No worries - it's NOT malaria or anything awful, I'm just feeling crappy.)

The first leg of our trip - getting out of the house) wasn't too bad.  The grownups experienced the normal pre-trip stress-out by as we made sure all the "i's" were dotted and "t's" were crossed.  The first hour of the trip is pretty long because the road is very bad.  They paved it at one point but now it is just potholes and dust - oh so much dust. Then, it was another 5-6 hours until we were in Accra (the traffic was easy).  We stayed in a lovely hotel called the Golden Tulip.  It was very clean and the service was great.  The best part was the pool! Dave's company has a "guest house" but we opted to pay for a hotel because of Joshua's peanut allergy - the kitchen at the guest house has too many unknowns - plus we wanted a bit of privacy and a pool.

Joshua and new friend in the kids pool.
The shopping part of the trip was an adventure to say the least.  Finding everything you want is possible in Accra if you are willing to search for it and then pay a lot. A typical shop includes going to several "grocery" stores that are about the size of Tony's Market (off of Bowles in Littleton), a couple of specialty shops that are about the size of my kitchen at home, and maybe something from a vendor who has set up a shop about the size of a neighborhood lemonade stand.  To complete the experience, you must buy something out the car window from someone walking between the thousands of cars on the roadway selling bizarre items.  I wasn't prepared with money or this time I would have bought an adapter plug for my slow cooker.  I forgot to take pictures until we were on the way out of town so next time I will take more and share them with you. 


A couple of shopping choices on the way out of town. 

The shopping part wouldn't have been too bad if Joshua were in the mood to behave.  As those of you with little ones know, their behavior at a store is either fine or truly terrible.  This time he behaved in a manner that made my job easy at exactly two of the 10 stores.  I left him in the air-conditioned car with our driver for two of the shops and the rest ... it's the same everywhere.  Oh well, this was such a different experience for him and I am sure he was tired so I can't blame the poor kid.  However, I can complain.

Joshua was happy to have free license to play his games in the car.
The ride home was really long and tough. The traffic in Accra was ok but then it seemed that we were stuck behind every big truck or slow driver in Ghana. The best part of the drive was near Cape Coast where we could see the ocean. After a stop to pick up Dave in Takoradi (from the airport - he skipped 4 hours of travel), we turned inward toward Bogoso. Driving the small, dusty roads where we must share the roads with pedestrians and huge trucks after dark was scary. Our driver knew exactly what he was doing and I am glad it was him and not me!
This map will help you picture the drive.  From Accra follow the coast West to Sekondi-Takoradi, then turn North to Tarkwa and turn West again to Prestea (it's really close to Bogoso).
And just because I know you were worried, the dogs were perfectly happy to be left at home with a couple of friends that spoiled them rotten.