Hi Everyone,


We have been out of touch lately and thought it time to reconnect. The children just have two weeks left of school and are feeling ready for the break. Maria plans to take as many horse back riding lessons as possible, read and work on training her new puppy, Luna. Nicholas will no doubt be drawing and gluing all sorts of things, making us cards and pictures and wrapping up presents for us, usually books, pencils or little toys. Caroline has gone a few mornings to a playschool nearby where most of her age mates attend. She is sometimes ok with going and other times cries so I have not been pushing it too much. She is talking quite well now and is a stitch, bossing the dogs and cat around and telling us all what she thinks about things. On her 2nd birthday in May she had a pretty good vocabulary but was not stringing any of them together yet. Now, she can say whole sentences of 5 words (telling us that Nick Nick is a poopoohead because he hit her) She also loves singing and is doing some counting and practices the alphabet. We of course, think she is brilliant and adorable.


It has been quite a hectic past few weeks, our adorable and curious Nicholas being at the center of much of it. Trouble comes in threes and he really did manage some good ones this past week. Friday before last, Nicholas got bit by our dog Lilly, a feisty 9 year old basset beagle. She had been eating a bone and Nicholas was on his knees next her her and petting her in a rather silly fashion (yellow rubber gloves on his hands and a bit rambunctious) when she turned and bit him in the mouth just above his lip and coming out on the lip. even his nose got grazed so she must have been really going for it. Amazingly, there was not a lot of bleeding but the hole was quite apparent. No stitches were needed and it is healing fast. Hopefully no scar.


Lilly, was the previous APCD's dog and he had told us she was not so good with children but an excellent guard dog. She really has not been so bad with the children and saved most of her nipping for the guards when they would run for the gate to open it. We were told that several of the guards a few years ago had been abusive to her and thus her dislike for them. She barks incessantly when anyone comes to the gate and it has been a real pain. We have two new puppies who have been a bit rambunctious as well around her and she tends to set them straight with a nip, but we think this incident was her too anxious about her new bone and who might get it. In any case, she couldn't stay and we didn't feel comfortable passing her on to anyone else, even a family with no children, in the case she acted again. She was put down Tuesday. Life has been much quieter for everyone. She had also gotten into the habit of running away when we were not home. She had dug a hole under our fence and escaped through the neighbors very holey fence on the other side. She would always come home or someone would bring her back or 'rescue her' as one neighbor put it. Brian had just invested in an electronic fence that would help her with "boundaries" but the kit didn't have enough wire and we were waiting on more. In any case, she is buried in one of the holes she dug under the fence, only this one is a little deeper.


I was especially worried Nicholas would feel guilty about Lilly being put down. In the car one day he asked how the vet would 'kill her'. Would he use a knife? And after telling some friends at school about being bit he said 'now we have to kill her'. Anyway we talked about how feisty Lilly was and emphasized that we don't want the next time to be an even more serious injury with a little child or anyone. With all the other events since I think he let this go.


We do have three other very sweet ones dogs remaining. Big fat Dingo, a yellow lab mix, lovable bear of a dog (spayed a bit early we are told, but I think he raids the compost pile as well). And we have two black lab puppies, Captain Jack Sparrow (Nicholas' dog) and Bella Luna (Maria's) , Jack and Luna for short. Born in March to Christine's yellow lab mix, they are adorable. We have had them for about a month and the children are really enjoying life with puppies. Even the cat, Winky, who acts indifferent is usually found in their vicinity, because that is where the fun is. Maria just got a new puppy training book and this is her and Nicholas' summer project. With new collars and leashes for them they went on their first walk outside Sunday and had a blast exploring.


Despite Nicholas and dog both having had their shots, the nurses at our clinic still wanted a rabies shot and tetanus shot for Nicholas, which he got. With the second rabies and the tetanus shots he came down with a fever that got worse over the next 2 days so we went in for a malaria test on Tuesday. He tested positive, but very low count of parasites and was on a 3 days treatment for this last week. He has recovered but has to go back for another test in 2 weeks to assure it is out of his system. The anti-malaria prophylaxis we take is called Mefloquin or Larium and I have been concerned of it's side effects for some time. Since learning the once a week dose is really good for up to 20 days we had been taking the dose every 2 weeks and we have done fine on this for the past year. Since the rains have finished and it is dry season I thought maybe going off it for a while would be good. That was 3 weeks ago and in the mean time we had a several trips to the lake (more malaria there) one of which we missed getting the nets down at bedtime and this is where I think he managed to get a bad bite as the malarial mozzies bite at night. Lesson learned.


We all spent a nice afternoon at the British High Commision pool, playground and tennis court on Saturday. Maria and I share an hour lesson and have been steadily improving our game. A very nice Malawian guy named Acton is our instructor and he is quite patient and enthusiastic. Anyway, after our day at the Tamarind Club as it is called, Nicholas came back to the house with his friend Zane, for a bit more fun. Zane has nut allergies and travels with several Epi-pens (epinephrine/adrenaline) which produce a needle and the medicine when pressed firmly against a surface, usually a thigh. While going through Zane's bag with him Nicholas wanted to get a closer look and managed to unwrap one and give himself a jab in the palm of his hand. Needless to say he was quite surprised and came running out to the kitchen to us crying that he stabbed himself with Zane's Epi-pen. After freaking out only a bit we found a phone and the Embassy on-call doc came by and declared him ok despite rather high pulse and said he might be a bit active for a while. No more so than usual it seemed.


A new week has begun and so far fairly quiet.

We would love to hear how things are going with all of you.


Love and Peace,

Mike and family