Friday, August 15, 2008

Shower/bachelorette party!

With all of my and my friends travel schedules (most of my friends also work for CDC), we didn't have time to put together a bridal shower or bachelorette party, but the weekend before the wedding, my friend Meredith managed to get a quorum together to go to the Atlanta Botanical gardens and then out to dinner for tapas.

Here are all of us pushing the rock - it's on a pole, and when you get it going, you can push it with a finger.Guess you have to kiss a lot of frogs....At the tapas restaurant - Fuego...Trying to keep the bride-to-be tiara on my head! Actually - it had fallen off into the frog pond in the botanical gardens and had to be washed and blow dried. :)The incredible torte Meredith ordered! It said Congratulations Julie before the bottom part was cut. :)My crazy friends from the Malaria Branch..... MeredithJulie
and Jodi (we worked in Niger together)and me with everyone's sangria glasses :)


Ed and I had exactly 3 months between our engagement (April 26th) to our wedding (July 26th), which isn't a ton of time to plan a wedding (even without a 2 week trip to Senegal in the mix), but we had other projects on our minds - extensive renovations to Ed's townhome, a good portion of which needed to be done if we were going to have the wedding in our backyard!!
Here is the kitchen/dining room - studs, appliances, and construction materials...
We knew we wouldn't get far on the kitchen, but wanted to finish the downstairs half-bath and make the living room look nice. The first project was the bathroom - to begin with, drywall and no ceiling. We did all of it ourselves - I tiled, and Ed installed the ceiling, did the wiring and installed electrics, installed the vanity and toilet, and we finished by painting together. Here I am doing the grout...Ed wrestling with the vanity...Starting to look good!The next project for me (while Ed was getting the bathroom done) was the living room - ripping up all the carpet and padding, leveling the floor, and installing our new bamboo floor. Since we used full thickness bamboo (not laminate) over concrete, we had one option - urethane adhesive, which I quickly discovered is not soluble in anythig once it's dry! I spent awhile waiting for it to peel off my arms and legs. Pondering my work so far....
Notice the mantlepiece? Covered with white steaks - my project after the floor was to chip all of that paint off, sand it down, repaint it chocolate brown, and repaint the white painted bricks brick red. It looks much better - I'll have to post pictures of what it looks like finished!

Spreading urethane on the piece of flooring.....and laying it down... over and over and over again! I spent a weekend on it, then three nights after work until midnight each night - I was so over that floor by the time I was done!!
The roses Ed bought me and had waiting one night I came over to work on the floor - what a guy!!Enjoying a job well-done!We also had some fun - Ed is enjoying floor time with the babies at get-together with friends
And my supervisors took me out to lunch to celebrate my transition from EIS officer to Malaria Branch staff! Rob, on the right, was my primary supervisor and is the CDC head for the President's Malaria Initiative. I now have a new primary supervisor, Patrick. Larry, on the left, is the Malaria Branch chief and will be my boss as long as I work at the Malaria Branch.

Senegal Trip

I went to Senegal the last week of May and first week of June for the joint CDC/USAID planning visit for President's Malaria Initiative for FY2009. I had been on the Madagascar PMI team, but there was some administrative shuffling and I was switched to the Senegal team. I'm going to miss Madagascar!! My family lived in Senegal for a year while I was in elementary school, so I was curious to see how things has changed. Dakar (the capital) is so much more built up and crowded as to be unrecognizable. Here is a picture of the streets - these colorful bus/taxis are everywhere! ....But the food is still delicious! Here is the joint CDC/USAID team, including the local USAID team and a member of the National Malaria Control Program, at lunch near the USAID offices.The national dish of Senegal is cebu jen, fish and vegetables cooked with tomato rice, and is delicious. One evening, we were invited for dinner at a USAID staff home, where they served the cebu jen in traditional Senegalese style - on huge platters - everyone sits around the platter with their utensils (or their hands). Here is before:And after!!We did get to take one trip outside Dakar to see a health facility in a more rural area - here is a local roadside market.Heaps and heaps and heaps of mangos for sale along the road - simply irresistible!
Horse drawn carts are still a common sight, both in and out of the city.And a little donkey cart hauling firewood.
Small collection of huts typical of how most Senegalese still live.
We visited a village health committee and were shown the activities at the "health hut". Here is the health committee in the health hut. They had arranged for our visit to coincide with a presentation on malaria prevention at the local school. Here is a member of the village health committee giving the presentation.
They had also held a competition in which the students made drawings illustrating important messages about malaria - the students with the drawings judged best received an insecticide-treated bednet - very cool! One of the winners:
And her winning drawing:
My USAID colleague and I with the nurse at the closest health post. He was a really sharp guy and gave terrific responses to all my questions - I just had to quiz him a bit. ;)
The view from the USAID mission in Dakar, right on the beach!