Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Balloon goalies

The local kids put my kids' futbol skills to shame, but bring out the balloons and there's no contest. Clearly, my kids have the edge in the balloon war. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Jacinta had to go to the Embassy for a Fulbright Orientation so we made a family vacation of it. Here we are on the road from the park to Gonder (in  a short clip you get scenery, a giant hole where the brand new road completely collapsed, and sleeping kids):

We took a detour to Bahir Dar, a sleepy little town on the shores of Lake Tana, source of the Nile (well the Blue Nile, which is most of the water in the Nile). Here is the view of the lake from the balcony of our room:
At the shore:

Lake Tana!

Source of the Nile? Meh. Ice cream!

We then flew on to Addis:

Yet another balcony--this time you can actually see a bit of Addis:

More life in the mountains

The rains have ended (hopefully!) which means it is warmer in the daytime, but it also gets colder at night. Here is Elsa helpfully pointing out the frost on the ground in the morning:

The kids have started sneaking into our bed in the morning while I make the coffee. They pull all the sleeping bags into the bed and make a 'nest'.

The big news around here is that we are having our own toilet built--no more sharing a squat toilet with tourists who can't aim! The kids have been helping with the project:

Gellies and 'jamas: One night the monkeys slept on the cliffs right below our house. The next morning, the kids got to spend some time with the monkeys while still in their pajamas:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


The 500m cliffs around this waterfall are one of the sleeping sites for our geladas. So we sometimes have to go here to look for monkeys. Field work is rough.


Fun in our backyard

A day of life in the Simien Mountains

Setting out early in search of subjects to study.

I think we found them. One of them looks strangely familiar...

Unwinding after a long day of work by catching a goat with the neighbors.

Turning in early so it can all start again the next day.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Munchkins in the mist

After leaving Gonder, we finally made it to the misty mountains, aka the Simien Mountains National Park (sadly, no hobbits). Its the end of the rainy season up here so everything is green and flowering and the weather is foggy and wet. 
Per pauses on a hike to consult his bird book. 

The path connecting our house to the neighbors.

Red hot pokers! 

Brief moments of sunshine! 

More Gonder

Sorry--this is a bit out of order. Here are some pictures on the way to Gonder:

In Gonder:
Gonder taxis! 

Inside a castle

This castle lost its roof when it got bombed in WWII. The Italians moved their headquarters to the castles hoping the Brits would not bomb them there. They were wrong. 

Inside the royal lion cages.

The 'lockers' in the royal baths.

The center of Gonder, the piazza (named during the Italian occupation).   

Gonder, done dat

Gonder is the closest real city to the Park where we work. It is also home to Gonder University, where we will be doing some teaching this year. It is about a 2.5 hour drive from the park. We spent a few days there arranging things with the University. We also did a bit of sight seeing...

Fasil's castle! Gonder was the home of Ethiopia's kings in the 16th century--they each built their own castle. Several are still standing. This is the oldest and the biggest, built by King Fasil. Can you spot the kids? 

Elsa enjoying some incense. 

Coffee ceremony! Ethiopia is where coffee originated and they take their coffee pretty seriously. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hotel Life

I mentioned last time that things will get more exciting soon. Well, I just wanted to document the lack of excitement so far. There are brief flurries of activity trying to get things done, but it has mostly been sitting around in the offices of bureaucrats waiting for various signatures and permission letters and other documents. For example, getting a driver's license is a multi-day ordeal that starts with having your license certified by the American Embassy (which can only happen Tuesday or Thursday afternoon). Then you have to have this certification certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (yes, it is a scary as it sounds). That is all before the multi-step process at the DMV equivalent--a process that starts with you finding the window where the lady sells the blue construction paper folders that will become Your File. These types of things are broken up with meals at restaurants and LOTS of time in the hotel room. Witness:
Elsa passed out reading her kindle
Home school! Yes we homeschool. No, we are not going to start making our own clothes or voting for Santorum.
The view from our balcony. I know you can't see it but it is just a few trees and rusty tin roofs on the houses behind us. One of the roofs contains a very loud rooster. Who appears to be a little jet lagged--seems to think the sun rises at 3AM. Hopefully he got eaten today (its the Ethiopian New Year--a day of high mortality for domestic animals). 
Yes, the kids do leave the room. In fact, the mall down the road has some pretty cool video games--here Elsa is flying a jet that moves along with game. Sure beats Space Invaders.  

Let's get this party started!

We're back! Broadcasting live from Ethiopia. We should have more exciting things to post once we leave the city. But for now, here is a picture of the world's saddest birthday party (Per turned 6 last week--don't feel bad for him, he celebrated before we left!). We will be posting via satellite email and iPhones and things so the quality won't be up to Jacinta's usual standards--but we promise to post more often (so expect the next post within 2 years).

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving in Chicago

This Thanksgiving, Per and Elsa dedicated some serious time to catching up with cousins, Jack and Gus. Part of the festivities were spent at the Shedd Aquarium in downtown Chicago. What else but beluga whales could transfix four kids under the age of 5 for more than 10 seconds?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Free to be you and me

One morning last week when I went in to wake up Elsa:

Jacinta: Oh Elsa, you are so pretty!

Elsa (grumpy): Don wanna be pwetty...

Jacinta: But Elsa, you are. You're so beautiful!

Elsa (still grumpy): Don wanna be byoo-tee-foh.

(long pause)

Elsa: Jus wanna be Elsa.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Per's lyin' in which wardrobe?

Last night we finished reading the last chapter of "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe". This morning Per would not come out of the living room cabinet. His reason for NOT disappearing to a far-off land? The adults in the house are killing the magic. Too true. Too true.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall activities!

In an effort to catch up on nearly a year, here is a Halloween photo dump. 

Per and Elsa in a haunted straw maze (momma was too scared to make it all the way through the maze...)

Momma just can't seem to remember to wear a more appropriate color for photos of pumpkins and leaves (yikes!)

 And, speaking of leaves...

Guess who picked the pumpkin theme this year?

A knight and "his" dragon. Elsa wanted to be "Puff", but Per insisted on a fire-breathing dragon, "Smaug" (and, no, this is not Per's T-rex costume from last year recycled...check the blog post, you'll see).


The Sunday before Halloween...

Despite their mother’s protests, Per AND Elsa decided to go to a Halloween party dressed as Superman (well, Superman and Supergirl). Upon arrival, their two friends (and brothers) ripped open their coats to reveal two more supermen. I guess some things were just made to last...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Per loves sharks!

Shocking, really, that Per would prefer sharks to dolphins...

With jellyfish coming in a close second...