Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ant Attack

Last night, these not so friendly (now-dead) ants decided to invade our front porch.
Paul discovered them when he went out to put his bicycle in the storage shed after dark. He didn't turn the porch light on, so unfortunately he stepped right into the swarm. He felt the stinging pain in his foot, realized what was happening, and quickly got out of the way. Thankfully, he was wearing flip-flops or else he might have had many more painful bites!

In Swahili, these nasty little guys are called sungusungu (biting ants). As I search the internet, they appear to be a species of army ant. Don't quote me on this, though. I'm definitely not a scientist!

One thing I do know, though. We'll be much more careful to turn on the porch light if we go outside again after dark!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Birthday Season

I haven't blogged in a while. Today, I'll blame this on the fact that we've recently reached the end of what we've come to call "birthday season" in my house, and this time of the year makes me tired and drains my creativity reserves.

Three of the four of us Heffts have a birthday in August and September: Josiah on August 5, Anna on September 8, and me on September 19. Last year, we were in orientation and language school during birthday season and weren't able to throw parties for the kids like normal, so taking that fact into consideration, I purposed to put on special, memorable (hopefully) parties for the kids this year. And it all went pretty well, except for the fact that it took me nearly a week to recover after each of the parties.

One thing I learned during my first real Tanzanian birthday season: I miss my neighborhood Wal-mart and party store in the States! Although, I was able to put on fun events for the kids, it took me a lot more time and internet-scouring to get things together. And I definitely had to put on my "crafty-lady" hat. Because I couldn't just run over to Wal-mart and buy all the neatly packaged party supplies I needed, I ended up creating a lot of the games and decorations myself.

But thankfully, I didn't have to do it all myself. Aladdin's Cave, the small ice cream parlor in town, carries a lot of little plastic trinkets and candies, so they were my go-to shop for creating party favor bags. We also have a decent stationery duka (shop) in town that carries supplies like glitter, birthday tiaras, kid-themed pencils, poster board, and ribbon. What I couldn't find in town, I tried to make myself.

Josiah's 6th birthday party was the biggest, and took the most work. He loves all things marine-life, so we decided together on a shark theme. He has quite a few friends in Dodoma, so we ended up with 16 children at the party! Thankfully, we have a large common area in our compound, so I was able to have it outside.

As they arrived, the kids made a shark necklace out of twine, paper shark cutouts and dyed pasta.
Next, we played games like "What time is it Mr. Shark? (similar to What time is it Mr. Wolf?), Feed the Shark (the kids threw homemade fish beanbags into a cardboard shark box I had made), Water Brigade, and Fish, Fish, Shark (like Duck, Duck, Goose).
Finally, we had snacks and cake.

For Anna's big day, she requested a princess party. Because she was turning four, we catered this party for the (mostly) under 5 set and only had 8 party-goers this time. This was a very good thing considering that the school planned an afternoon parent's meeting right in the middle of Anna's party, which meant that my right hand man had to leave half way through the event.

When the kids arrived, they decorated foam prince/princess crowns (Thanks, Mom for sending all that craft foam. It was a lifesaver!)
We played games like Pin the Kiss on the Frog Prince, Musical Magic Carpets, and Find the Pea.
And, again, we ate cake.
I'm pretty sure the kids had a wonderful time at both of their parties, and that made me feel good. However, I was beyond exhausted at the the same time. So, when my birthday rolled around 10 days after Anna's, we kept the celebrating pretty low-key. We had a few friends over for coffee, cake, and conversation.
I did make my own birthday cake (which I actually enjoy), but my friend, Julie Anne, also made me a delicious pavlova.
It's been a good birthday season in the Hefft house, but I'm glad it won't roll around for another year!