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Life As Many

It was now been 53 days since our 7 nieces and nephews came to live with us in Nairobi, Kenya. These first days have been filled with getting to know each other, establishing routines that makes life easier in a big family, settling into school, discovering Nairobi together, and LOTS and LOTS of language acquisition!

Each individual's personality is revealed more each day as they feel comfortable in their new environment. Cousins are starting to act more like siblings around one another, which includes the simultaneous feelings of immense love and annoyance. 😉
Kiir and Akook have a special bond
Aluel, Kiir, and Awut 

Chore charts were made right away to keep the family running smoothly. Everyone is divided into a team of two "littles" with one "big" to make sure dinner dishes are done, toys are put away, and the floor is swept each evening. The teacher in me made each child their own "uniform picture chart" so that they could quickly see a visual of the proper uniform attire for each day (I have quickly learned that uniforms are no joke here in East Africa!).

We are learning as we go to make sure everyone is responsible for him or herself and is also helping one another. The daily routines feel more and more comfortable for all. Everyone knows that after school they change, eat a snack, and settle down at the table for homework time. They also know that Friday nights = movie night. Typically, even before the table is cleared from dinner, all 10 of them are in pajamas and on the couch waiting for whatever this week's movie selection is.
Friday Movie Night!

The kids are attending 4 different schools. It doesn't make drop-off and pick-up easy (especially in Nairobi traffic), but each school was carefully chosen based on what I felt they might need. 

Aluel and Kiir
Kiir (3) and Aluel (6) attend a small Kindergarten that is a blend of Montessori and Waldorf styles of learning. There is a huge outdoor space for them to play and explore and their classroom invites them to discover and learn each day. 

Majok and Deng

Majok and Deng (both 8) go to a larger private Catholic school. The school placed them initally down in nursery with 4 and 5 year olds but the boys are learning fast and I'm working to get them moved up as soon as the teachers' feel they are ready. This school follows the Kenyan system, which is a rigorous program but I felt they would do well after some time. Being in the Kenyan system will provide more options when they reach secondary and college. 

Awut (making Ugali like a BOSS!)
Akook and Ellyana

Ellyana (8), Akook, and Awut (both 10) are attending a small Christian British School. They are all in one class, making it easy for Ellyana to help her cousins. This school seems to be a perfect fit for the three of them. I knew that the academic gap would be large for Akook and Awut and I felt that they would easily get lost in a large school or in the Kenyan system. The teachers have been fantastic in modifying their work and working with them at THEIR level.

Aluel and Aduol

Aduol and Aluel (both 16) are attending an all-girls Catholic High School that uses the British system. It has not been easy for them to transfer from their school in Uganda and they have spent the last month playing "catch up" by copying first term's notes, staying for extra tutoring, and spending any free time they have studying! I'm proud of their hard work and determination. We are beginning to have important conversations on what they will do after high school that will continue over the next two years they have left. 

The greatest joy is seeing the kids learn and grow even in the short amount of time they have been with us. I am watching them read sight word books, write their names for the first time, communicate more in English, add and subtract, color pictures for the first time, and come home every day smiling and happy from their day at school.  Besides school, we have made time to explore their new city. Here are some picture highlights of our adventures over the past 53 days. 
Ice cream!


Rock climbing for the first time (Akook)

Having a meal out is a special treat!

Giraffe Center

Aluel and Awut

All the younger kids, except Awut who wanted
nothing to do with the giraffes!

The last 53 days hasn't been all easy as my 3 kids adjust to a mom whose attention is now divided by 10 or language makes it difficult to addresses issues efficiently. But the joys have surely outweighed the challenges. I recognize that in many ways they are in "honeymoon" stage of adjustment which may lead to harder days ahead, but I am confident that they have the ability to tackle the challenges that come. I honored to be able to support them in the process.


  1. WOW!! I am definitely in awe of all that you have accomplished in such a short time. I love how you carefully thought out which school would be best for each child and how they are adjusting so well. The "ice cream" pic reminds me of a scene from "The Sound of Music"! I also love the "movie night" pic. Did you bring a whole suitcase full of DVDs??? You must be exhausted but it is so worth it!!!!

    1. "Sounds of Music" just might need to be the next movie night pick! Haha. Netflix and iTunes is where we watch most of our movies from.

  2. Miss all of you but so admire what you are doing for your family!

  3. How did I not know that you have a blog?! I must have been informed and chosen to not listen or retain this fantastic information: Liz, it's so good to read about your life!! Thank you for writing - I've been missing you and thinking of you and now, after reading this, I feel just a bit more connected to you and your gang. Sending love and love. :)

    1. Oh shut up - I don't even know where my photo profile pic pulled from, but it's the painting from our season together!!!!! :)

    2. I LOVED that painting and that season together! It will always be one of my "top seasons" no matter where life takes us. Love you friend! Hoping you'll be on the East Coast sometime over the summer so that we can rendezvous!

  4. Liz, you are amazing! I look forward to reading your blog. What an adventure!

  5. Wow Liz! I am so glad to come upon this blog!! What an incredible life you have in Nairobi and what a HUGE blessing you are to all of these growing ones. What a remarkable woman you have always been and continue to be :) Hannah


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