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What a week!

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What a week…a wedding (ok so that was the week before), one of our favorite couples came for a wonderful and encouraging sleepover, my sis was here for a few days (although I think her boyfriend was the main draw… not us :).  The weather has not been inspiring…we are so grateful for the rain but I really must say that overcast skies, low pressure and drizzles just don’t uplift my spirit!  April in Kenya…now I remember why I said I never wanted to be in Kenya in April 🙂

Clearly today is not a writing day for me.  I’ve been trying to write for over 30 minutes now and I can’t seem to get my thoughts together.  Maybe tomorrow then!

Ummm…

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I don’t know what to write about this morning, but I have 30 minutes of writing before me so I need to come up with something :).  I guess I should write about Benji!

Benji (Benjamin Baraka) lives up to his name.  When we found out that I was pregnant, I was pretty sure we would have a girl.  I already had a beautiful girl’s name all picked out and we began praying for our baby by name.  I even started knitting some little booties (pink of course) and sweaters.  With our doctor, we had an ultrasound every visit, which was just wonderful.  For some reason we delayed going for the checkup where we would find out the gender so I was past 20 weeks be the time the doctor informed us, “it’s a baby boy…you can see here…”  I remember leaving the hospital thinking, “ok, we need a new name!”  Even though I was planning for a girl, finding out we were expecting a boy wasn’t really a big deal…just we didn’t have a name.  We thought about it and talked about it, but didn’t come up with anything.  The one name we both liked, one of our friends had recently named their son and when we did some research we didn’t really like the meaning.  We  agreed that we preferred a Bible name and wanted something with a strong meaning.  But still no name.

Finally, at church a few weeks later,  a number of people asked what his name was going to be and we kept trying to avoid the question.  When we got home from church, we agreed it was time to come up with a name for this baby.  We sat in our plastic chairs, at our little table (we were a bit short on furniture at the time) and started discussing names.  In addition to our qualifications, I also wanted a name with nice nicknames – Billy has about 10 nicknames and I have none :).  We discussed a variety of names.  We were really being drawn to Old Testament names.  We considered Caleb and Levi and a variety of other names.  Finally one of us brought up Reuben, and liked the fact that it could be shortened to Ben.  Then we looked up the meaning and didn’t quite feel it (I can’t currently remember the meaning).  Then almost at the same time we said, what about Benjamin, that can also be shortened to Ben.  So we looked up the meaning.  In Hebrew, Benjamin means the son of my right hand.  Then we dug a little further.  The tribe of Benjamin was the warrior tribe of Israel, they were known to be taller, stronger and many times more handsome than the rest of the Israelite men.  Almost all the things we could discover about the tribe of Benjamin were positive.  So we agreed, this would be the perfect name for our little boy.

Then we had to pick a middle name.  Traditionally in the Kikuyu tribe (the tribe Billy is from) the first-born son is named for the paternal grandfather (the second born then being named for the maternal grandfather) while first-born daughters are named for the paternal grandmother and so on.  There is also a tradition that while Billy uses his father’s Kikuyu name as his surname, Benji and myself take Billy’s Kikuyu name as our surname…entirely dropping his father’s name.  Billy decided that it was important for us to start our own family line, leaving behind old traditions and starting our own.  He chose not to give Benji his father’s name and actually chose to not give him a Kikuyu name at all.  Instead we decided we would choose a Swahili word with a positive meaning for a middle name.  We had decided on this a while before we sat down to pick a name, but didn’t have a specific word in mind. The idea behind it was that should Benji chose to follow tradition and drop Billy’s name, he would still have a name that could be used for his wife and children’s surname.  After we picked Benjamin it didn’t take us long at all to come up with Baraka.  Baraka is the Swahili word for Blessing.  It has become a popular first name for Kenyan families who are moving to giving their children meaningful names.  We loved how the names sounded together and the power of their meanings.

And so we had it, Benjamin Baraka.  Oh, in addition to these names, Benji’s last name (Billy’s Kikuyu name) means the hot or fiery one :).  Benji lives up to all his names.  He is most certainly the son of his father’s right hand.  He has been a daddy’s boy from the very first day.  They bonded while I was recovering in ICU and have been very, very close ever since.  On Wednesday, Billy and I went out to do somethings and left Benji with our househelp.  When we came home, Billy went to the shop in our estate while I came home to release the househelp.  Billy was less than 5 minutes behind me, but before he got home Benji was in tears…looking out the door asking for DADDY, DADDY.  When Billy came, Benji wouldn’t let him put him down for almost 5 minutes.  Benji is also very helpful and wants to be sure he does everything we are doing.   As for the warrior in him…it has been visable from the beginning.  I remember a friend of ours watching me struggle to nurse him and commenting, “he is very assertive, isn’t he.”  He was 2 months old!  Benji knows what he wants and he will do what he can to achieve it.  He prefers to do things himself even though he often ends up frustrated when he can’t get the blocks together or apart or something else doesn’t work the way he wants.  Benji is also a blessing.  Apart from a time or two, he loves visitors and is very warm and friendly.  He makes people smile.  And of course he is a huge blessing to our lives.  And lastly he is also fiery…his little temper has been showing recently, in the form of screams of frustration when we tell him no to something.  I hope and pray that we will be able to mould his fire and assertion into determination and discipline.

The picture is from an outing to the Nairobi SafariWalk…his determination was in full force (he wanted to keep running up and down the ramp :).

God and Marriage

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The year that my husband and I started dating and eventually got engaged was probably one of my best year spiritually.  I had just gone through a lot emotionally with the post-election violence that followed the 2007 elections here in Kenya.  Not only did it directly affect my family as we moved from the Rift Valley to Nairobi but I returned to the Rift Valley 4 times taking photos of the Internally Displaced People (IDPS) during prayer and relief  missions organized by Nairobi Chapel and other churches, as well as working with a group of children displaced by the violence and going with them as they returned home.  In the midst of all this I knew I needed God and became really close to Him.  I had plenty of time on my hands, plenty of privacy and plenty of drive to know God more.

Even after Billy and I started dating, my morning date with God was  an important part of my life.  I even remember going for a camp/mission trip to Uganda and how surprised everyone was that I would get up at 6 and spend time with God since we were spending time in Bible study most of the day.  It didn’t seem surprising to me because by then I was used to my morning date with God.

This continued for a while but I started missing my date with God now and then after we God engaged as the wedding planning kicked into full gear.  At that point it seemed like my focus needed to be on my husband-to-be and preparing myself for marriage and preparing a home for us and such.  I still made the dates with God when I could and even took myself out on lunch dates with God when I just needed to get away.

I remember being told many times, during premarital counseling, from women I respect, during my bridal showers that my personal relationship with God would be critically important after I got married.  But I was in the wonderworld only a bride can understand and believed that after we got married we would do everything together…including our relationship with God.

Our wedding was a beautiful celebration of the love God gives to two people.  We really wanted our ceremony to reflect the fact that what we were doing was just a glimpse at the wedding awaiting the Bride of Christ and her Groom.  And it was what we desired.  For us the worship that day was an unrivaled experience.  To praise and worship God while standing there with my husband and seeing how far God had brought us and all He had provided for us…nothing can compare to that.

We started a practice on our honeymoon of reading the Bible together each morning.  It was so wonderful to read and learn about God together.  Even when we came home we continued reading a little devotional each morning and praying together.  We also continued praying together every night, a habit we started soon after we started dating (over the phone of course in those days).   I enjoyed the moments we spent together in God’s word, so grateful that I had married a strong Christian.  But even as we met with God together, weathered storms together, walked the slippery path towards oneness I slowly drifted from God.  Why get up at 6am when I can cuddle in bed with my hubby?  How do I find time once we get up between preparing meals, figuring out where the money is going to come from, cleaning the house, washing the laundry and being there for my husband?  It seemed impossible.

I justified my drift from God with the fact that even the Bible predicts this dilemma in the life of a wife, talking about how the single lady has time to think of God and serve Him, but the married lady’s responsibility lies on earth, in taking care of her husband and family.  So I said…see even the Bible says its ok.

I kept hoping that our time together in the word and praying would be enough but slowly even that started to drift away.  Especially after Benji arrived.  Now, not only was there not time for my personal relationship with God there wasn’t even time for the two of us to spend time with God.  It dwindled down to just our prayers together at night.

Now after 2 1/2 years I’m left wondering what happened to my relationship with God and more importantly how do I get it back?  I still have all my wife responsibilities, combined with my mommy responsibilities, and then pile on time my responsibilities to our photography business…if I thought I didn’t have time 2 1/2 years ago, what about now.  But I have come to realize if I want to be successful as a wife, a mommy and a photographer, I need to figure out two things.  The first is how to have a stable relationship with God and the second is how to discover who I, as an individual, am and how to remain true to that in whatever I do.  (More on that another day).  For now my hope for my relationship with God is 30 minutes every morning before my hubby and baby get up.  I can already see it making a difference.

Thoughts on Life

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I’ve been thinking alot about this blog and about writing but I just haven’t gotten around to doing something about it.  So my new “plan” is to spend at least 30 minutes each day writing.  And I thought instead of just writing something and it sitting somewhere in a Word document in some random folder on the computer why don’t I write for this blog.  I hope the idea is going to work.

Life is so busy right now.  I not quite sure what is making it feel so busy but its feels like the pressure never lets up.  I know part of it is the folders of photos that need editing. It seems I add two new folders when I finish one.  I was so thrilled back in February to finally be caught up.  We photographed a wedding in the middle of February and thanks to my wonderful hubby we were actually almost caught up before we added those photos to the work folder.  For a few days I thought that we were totally caught up but then I realized I had to design a photo book…which took me over a week.  And all of a sudden the relief I felt at being caught up disappeared under a workload of 1,500 photos, setting up the studio, and an increasing number of photo shoots.  The photos from that wedding in February are around half done, I have two folders of photo session photos, one half done but the other I haven’t even started, 1 folder of 2,500 wedding photo that need to be sorted and edited, errands to run today, a photo session tomorrow and maybe another one before the end of the week, a wedding on Saturday and hubby also has an event to shoot on Saturday evening.  Ohhh I should not have just written that all down…its even more overwhelming seen in black and white.

Well I used 20 of my minutes getting the new post dialogue open and checking my email and facebook so now my time is up.

Hopefully my thought will be more interesting tomorrow but I figure I have to start someplace.

Oh and new recipes coming soon.  I have been asked many times to start a cooking class and since I never have time I want to start a virtual cooking class.  If you have any requests let me know 🙂

Congratulations

 

We are excited to announce the winner of our photo session giveaway.  The winner is Mary.

She left the following comment to enter the giveaway:

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Hi,

28th February is a memorable day for me and my family on 2 folds!!!!
– My daughter will be celebrating her 4th birthday then and it would be awesome to have a family shoot on the d-day. The last time we did a family shoot was on 28th Feb 2009 when she had just turned a year. I can bring proof of both birth certificate and family portrait that we took then
– My awesome awesome parents will be celebrating their 42nd wedding anniversary. Yes, 42nd. We are throwing a party for them and their pals in Kisumu at Rock Motel on the d-day. Would have loved them to be Nrb but they want to be in Ksm with friends….Old people u know….so all funds are channeled there and none for our little girl

Please say yea…….Thanks

We used a very scientific method to pick the winner…we put all of the names in a container and let Benji pick one 🙂 

We are very excited to take photos of Mary and her family.  We might have to add a birthday cake into the mix to celebrate the birthday girl. 

To all the others who entered the giveaway you will receive a special discount for a photo session as a consolation.  We will contact you with more information via the email you used when entering the giveaway.

What’s for Dinner: Pasta and Veggies

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Hubby had a craving for veggies this week so I decided to do a stir-fry with a twist.  It turned out pretty yummy.

I’m just going to give the recipe for the veggies.  Prepare your favorite pasta to accompany them.  I used spaghetti because its what I had available. 

For this recipe I took ideas from a variety of other recipes and made up my own.  Hope you enjoy.

Step 1: Prepare your favorite veggies.  I used

  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Green Onion
  • Dhania (Coriander)

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I think next time I would like to add

  • Cauliflower
  • Red Peppers
  • Corn

Basically slice everything.  For the carrots and zucchini cut into thin strips.

Step 2: Heat oil in frying pan until hot.  Add veggies one by one.  I started with carrots, then the zucchini, followed by broccoli, then mushrooms and finished with the green onions and dhania.  After each addition stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.

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Step 3: Add about 1/2 a cup of chicken broth, stir and cover.  Let simmer until veggies are soft. (Because I was making this to Benji to eat and because hubby doesn’t like crunchy veggies I let the veggies cook until they were quite soft).

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Step 4: Add 1-2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce, Salt, Pepper and any other desired seasonings to taste.

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Step 5: Serve and enjoy.

This recipe as shown will make 4 medium servings.

Giveaway!

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We are excited today.  To celebrate our new blog and just because Valentine’s Day and the anniversary of our engagement is this month we (as SW Photography) are giving away a photo shoot worth 3,500 shillings. 

One special person will win a one hour photo shoot at venue* of their choice.  The photo shoot can be for them alone or with friends or family.** In addition to the shoot we will also give the one 8×10 collage of photos taken during the shoot. 

So what you need to do it leave a comment saying what type of photo shoot you want (for example: personal portraits, family photos, maternity photos, engagement shoot etc) and why you want to win.  We will pick a winner at random on the 28th of February (our engagement anniversary).  

For more information about SW Photography and to see samples of our work check out our facebook page here.

*Venue must be in Nairobi, Kenya.  Winner will be responsible for transportation and any venue fees.

**There will be a limit of 5 people for the photo shoot.  There will be a fee for any additional participants. 

And now for a sneak peak of a family photo shoot (more photos coming later). 

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