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Showing posts from 2010

First weeks back

I’ve been back for 10 days now. I have to say, it’s been a little harder than I expected. Not that I thought adjusting to being a family of 6 would be a walk in the park, but Omara’s almost 6 weeks old already. I thought we’d done a lot of adjusting already! There haven’t been any major issues, but normal every day life here can be issue enough to make anyone crazy. And it’s all the little things, you know? Like trying to get kids to school on time, and all the stores running out of milk, and Isaac being back in the world of needing 2 baths and 4 changes of clothes each day, and mud everywhere, and flies swarming, and killer mosquitoes on the attack (Omara is too small to take malaria-prevention meds). Oh, and that’s not to mention the unbelievable headache of having our modem-phone stolen (which eliminates our internet access from the desktop) at the same time the lap-top crashed (again!) so we’ve been frantically trying to get back on-line to submit year-end budget and ministry repo…

Passport adventures

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Omara is automatically an American citizen, having been born to American parents. However, to formally file her birth and claim said citizenship, we had to meet with the US Consular at the Embassy today. Actually, Chad had to go last week and file permission for her to get a passport since he wouldn't be here for today's appointment. They require both parent's notarized request for a passport to keep one parent from being able to kidnap a child. Anyway, armed with all the necessary documents, I headed out today to file for "Birth Abroad" and request a passport.

These necessary documents were no small feat! In addition to the notarized "letter of concern" from Chad, I also had to have the passport application, birth abroad application, her birth certificate, our marriage license, my passport, and last but not least, 2 passport photos of her. Yes, of Omara, at 2 weeks old. In order to get these, I had to lay her on the coffee table on a white blanket duri…

Livin' it up in South Afrcia

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Omara's first petting zoo Don't worry--our windows were rolled up tightly!

Us all with the yet-unnamed baby giraffe, slightly bigger than Omara at 4-days old

The vicious attack-bird Isaac discovering the fear of waterslides

What is a family to do when stuck in South Africa for weeks, awaiting a new baby’s passport? Dreadful as it is, we’ve tried to make the best of it. With Omara being sweet and mild and very portable, we found ways to entertain ourselves…so many ways, in fact, that I’m quite behind in posting updates!
Day 4 after birth we headed out to a game-park, where we petted lion cubs, and spotted any number of gazelle, zebra, ostrich and huge prides of lions sleeping just feet from our car. We also took pictures of Omara with the baby giraffe who shares her birthday!
Day 5 we went to a bird sanctuary. Isaac has been particularly fond of birds…pointing out every one he sees and chasing any that dare land near us. We were right in that he loved seeing the…

Photos of Omara

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Omara Layne Pumpelly
Born November 4, 2010 at 2:20pm
6 lbs 10oz, 19.3" long

Omara Layne

I have now known the entire spectrum of birth experiences possible! From C-section to natural birth, from precipitous labor to failure-to-progress, from medication-free to an epidural that didn’t work. I haven’t decided why it was necessary for me to experiences all the options, but I’ve ended up with a healthy baby each time, so I know I shouldn’t complain.
After Isaac’s rapid (3 hour!) entrance into the world, my OB told me to come in the minute contractions started. I thought I was being daring but reasonable by waiting until they were steadily 8-10 minutes apart for 2 ½ hours first, and then we drove to the hospital at midnight. I was quite discouraged when the nurse told me baby wasn’t fully engaged and I was only 2cm! So I made Chad try to get some rest while I walked up and down the stairs the rest of the night until my thighs couldn’t take the burn anymore. The contractions were strong enough I couldn’t sleep anyway. But nothing increased except in intensity—and imagine my horr…

Endocrine praise

We met with the endocrinologist today, and Ethan has grown just enough to keep the doctor happy! He said he was shocked—the only thing stranger than the way Ethan just up and stopped growing for no discernable reason was the fact that he started growing again with no intervention. He hasn’t come close to catching up to where he should be, but the rate of growth for the last 4 months was back to normal. The doc said he would have really “insisted” on hormone injections had he not grown, and I was ready to insist we wait a little longer even if he hadn’t grown, so I’m glad we didn’t have to have that show-down! We’ll have to follow up in July of next year again, but that’s ok. I’ll be ready for another McFlurry by that time anyway!

Otherwise we’re all doing well. The kids had a hard time going to the mall today…so much to see, so much to want, so many times we said no. They just couldn’t understand why we can’t do all the fun things and get all the treats we haven’t seen in two years, …

Together Again

After a minor delay and a huge lightning storm, Chad and the kids arrived yesterday. Isaac is still a little clingy to me at times, but he is so excited to have his dad and his siblings around. For the first time in 3 weeks, I didn't have to spend 2+ hours getting him to bed...he just lay beside Anya as she sang and talked to him, and he eventually fell asleep without a fuss. And then Chad got up with him in the night while I stayed in my toasty bed. There are some joys that know no bounds!

As we drove home from the airport yesterday, Anya saw the Golden Arches and said, "McDonalds? Man, this place ROCKS!" How is it that I'm about to bring a new child into the world at the same time my oldest is threatening to jump head-first into teeny-bopper-ville? What were we thinking!?!?

And baby has still made no appearance, and no indication that she has any plans to soon. She is settled a little lower than before (which my rib cage is thankful for but my bladder has taken issu…

Perspective

I just came back from an OB appointment, one where I “made wee-wee” on the stick, had my BP checked without the use of a stethoscope, and had an ultrasound which determined that “baby is growing and the gender hasn’t changed.” As a nurse practitioner, I always want to champion preventative care, but this is feeling more than a little like a waste of time!!!!
I was feeling sorry for myself, having to chase Isaac around the waiting room for 45 minutes and then manage him in the exam room during the ultrasound, and I was drowning my self-pity in my weekly McFlurry (a most justified reward after such a morning, I’ve decided) when Chad called.

He had just spent over 2 hours standing in lines at 2 different banks in Lilongwe after the ATM took our money back before he could get it! Of course, the first bank could do nothing and sent him to the central bank…which could do nothing either. They recommend “letting our US bank deal with it.” Like they’re going to believe us that the ATM stole our …

A few of my favorite things

The best things about being in South Africa for a breather:

1. Fruit and yogurt!!! My fridge is packed with nectarines, peaches, apples, grapes, and Isaac devours a bowl of yogurt and granola every morning like it’s the best thing he’s ever eaten! We can get some things in Lilongwe, but not as easily or cheaply as here. I love it! (Lest you get the wrong idea about me, I’m loving the chocolate that’s readily available too!)
2. Using debit cards. No longer do I have to fret over making sure I have enough cash to check-out of the grocery store without an eye-roll of the cashier for having to take items back out of my cart! I can just run the plastic and it pays for whatever I wanted to buy…dangerous, but oh so lovely!
3. McDonalds McFlurrys. I am not much of a fast-food junkie, and we rarely went in the US. But I can’t tell you how amazing it is to run through a drive-through after our weekly doctors’ appointment, buy lunch for ourselves and the kids, and get a McFlurry (…

Foreign birth

I never thought much about how having a baby in a different country might be. People usually ask about the safety factor, which I feel is a non-issue here in South Africa. The hospital is exactly like one you would find in any city in the US, if not fancier. So the surprises have come in the little details. Like no internal exams during any prenatal appointment—not until active labor! Not that I’m complaining, exactly. I just liked knowing how things were progressing towards labor there those last weeks. They also won’t check for Group B strep until labor starts, which means they don’t get the results for 3 days after birth—great for knowing what’s wrong if a baby ‘crashes’, but not so good for preventing it from happening! And then for the hospital, we are required to bring our own chux pads (waterproof “linen saver” pads for the bed), diapers, wipes, baby shampoo, rubbing alcohol (required for umbilical cord care, which US hospitals don’t even do any more). We even have to purch…

The Big 5

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We’ve survived 5 days on our “own” here in Joburg now, though with all of us milling around it’s hardly been lonely! Isaac is doing great—sleeping has even improved a bit. There are Pack-N-Plays available here, but he can climb over the sides, so the trundle is pulled out between two twin beds, and it gives a sense of being contained on 3 sides, at least! He is also more clingy than usual, not wanting to let me out of his sight—but as long as he has a visual, he’s quite happy to play and even entertain himself enough that I’m on book #2 already. He’s giving more hugs and snuggles than ever, which I certainly am not complaining about. And speaking more words even—I don’t know if it’s hearing only English for the first time in 18 months or if it’s the absence of his chatty brother and sister that has finally given him a chance!
Today we walked the mile to the coffee shop next door to the Wimpy hamburger place, where I thoroughly enjoyed a mocha milkshake and Isaac got to experience a fas…

Greetings from sunny Joburg

Isaac and I made the trip down with minimal adventure yesterday and we’re doing well. The trip started out with our travel agent mentioning that Isaac (as a baby-in-the-lap) had to be “attached” to a “fake person” who had a real itinerary very different from my own, but that she just manually changed the dates on his ticket to make it look like he was traveling with me…but that it should be no problem. Sounded like a problem to me, but sure enough! No problem. Of course, they did have a problem with me being pregnant. Despite my officially stamped letter from a doctor clearing me for travel, made me wait 40 minutes before finally agreeing to let me fly, after a stern warning that they would “leave me behind” if it was up to them and making me put into writing that I would not hold them accountable if anything happened in the air.

During all this I had Isaac in the stroller so that I could buckle and contain him…a brilliant move on my part until it came to the 4 flights of stairs and no…

Graduation photo

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This is the same photo as on our prayer letter, but in case any of you don't get it or couldn't open it, this is the group photo of all 20 students and their spouses on graduation day.

And life races on

few I knew it had been a few days since I last wrote...but 3 weeks? Where has the time gone??? I can not believe I leave for Joburg in 9 days. And call me slow, but it just dawned on me that I'll be gone for 2 whole months! I was thinking about the 3 weeks before Chad and the older kids come. Then the 3 weeks that we'll all be down there. Then the 3 weeks when it will be just me and the new one. And 3 weeks doesn't sound like all that long. But I'll be back December 10th, the day before Isaac's 2nd birthday, just 2 weeks before Christmas!!! I've got some serious planning and packing to do!

Meanwhile, things have been good. Despite my silence, my 3 mornings at the clinic have been going very well and don't feel at all overwhelming. It's a perfect amount of time. I'm also helping in Anya's classroom as a 'reading monitor' 2 of those mornings since the clinic doesn't open until 8. Ethan's teacher laughs when trying to describe what k…

The first day at the clinic

I'm officially licensed, though it was no small task! As I suspected, they gave me some trouble at the hospital. Since I'm an NP and do 'clinical diagnosing', they decided I would have to go back and do another 6 weeks under the Medical Council! because that involves things 'outside the scope of practice for a nurse in Malawi'!! After several hours of making me track down random people, wait for "meetings" to finish (the official term for an extended tea break!) and testing my ability to swallow my pride and humbly apologize for causing so much confusion--they signed me through! Whew!

Today I saw patients at the clinic for the first time. It was laid-back and manageable, with plenty of time with each patient. Actually down-right luxurious compared to the hectic pace of community clinics in the US! My first patient was a little confusing--she came in complaining initially of "dry mouth and throat" which then expanded to chest pain, abdominal p…

I survived, though the patients can't all say the same

It's all unofficially over. I have most of my signatures needed from the units, minus two I have to go get tomorrow from people who weren't there today. Then on Monday I have to meet with the Head Matron (otherwise known as the Chief Nursing Officer) and get her to sign off on it all. I have nightmares that she'll find some reason to say I have to do more time, so you all can pray for that meeting!!! Then I have to go to the National Nursing Council where I'll likely sit for hours, and get them to issue me an official license (which is nothing but a stamped receipt saying I've paid for one...you would think they could have just taken my money and bypassed the whole "orientation" thing!!!)

My last week went ok. I did some time in the ER, which is just a glorified mini-surgical clinic where we inserted chest tubes, cleaned burn wounds, and cut open abscesses...none of which I handled well. I will blame it on the pregnancy, but my nursing school friends will …

Kamuzu Central Hospital-weeks 2 and 3

The saga continues, and only gets worse! I thought I was doing pretty well after the first two weeks--I was exhausted and my feet are swollen every night, but I could see the silver lining in most areas. Week 2 I worked at the HIV/AIDS clinic, where they have a fantastic system with computerized bar codes for each patient and a ton of needed services ranging from nutrition assessments to home-based hospice care from nurses that cruise around on motorcycles! They do see about 250 patients per day (all HIV+) which seemed amazing. And the vast majority of them looked perfectly healthy--it really hit home how the early stages can not be diagnosed by appearance! Then I also did a few days in the "Under 5" clinic where they see kids up to 14. Most were simple out-patient malaria treatments, coughs and colds. We did see a couple of measles cases, a first for me, and then bizarre things like kidney failure in a 10-yr old after a nasty strep infection, heart failure in a 12-yr old wi…

Kamuzu Central Hospital-week 1

I’ve finished my first week at the hospital; only 3 more to go! It’s been such a wild experience already I hardly know how to put it all in words, but I’ll try to give you an idea.
Day 1: we were supposed to meet with the hospital’s director of nursing at 7:30am. We sat on a wooden bench and waited, and at 9:30 her assistant said, “Perhaps she’s running late”. Yes, perhaps! She arrived just before 10 and we were sent off to different units. I got the surgical ward for my first 2-day assignment. It’s supposed to be a 60-bed unit spread over 3 rooms, but they’ve put beds along both sides of the patio with its half-wall, so they’re now considered an 80-bed unit but often will go up to 120 patients by putting mattresses on the floor. The nurse told me, “The problem is that during the rainy season, the patients out on the patio get rained on, but as long as we can give them a bed and the care they need, the rest is just details.” There are 3 nurses on day shift (7:30am-4pm) and 2 nurses on …

I'm a dork

So I have a nice, newsy blog update to tell you all about my first week at the central hospital here, saved on my computer at home where I can't post it instead of on the laptop here in the mission office where I can post it. Guess that was a wasted trip over here! But such is life when you're suddenly so busy you can hardly remember your first name!

The kids started back to school on Tuesday (yeah!) and they're doing fairly well. They love their teachers, they seem to have a good mix of classmates, but that 7am start time has knocked us all for a loop again and we're dragging by about 2pm (me especially) and having melt-downs over which play shirt to wear (mostly Ethan, but I wouldn't put it past me!).

The hospital is do-able, but I'm really worn out. Part of it is the pure number of hours I suddenly find myself working...from teaching 1 hour a day, to summer break, to suddenly being gone 7am-4:45pm! Part of it is the emotional stress of seeing the suffering and…

ABC Clinic

It's been forever since I wrote, and I'm sorry about that. Life has trucked on and we're all doing well, though summer has felt busier than I expected it to. Chad had only 2 weeks off before the next term started, so he's been hard at work, first developing the courses, then preparing for them, and now teaching them!

After getting back from South Africa, I was able to finalize things with our leadership and with ABC clinic, and we've worked out an agreement where I will see patients 3 mornings a week. The clinic is part of a mission compound that includes another seminary, the school which Anya and Ethan attend, and the community clinic. The clinic serves anyone for a small fee, but it won't be as busy as the local hospital clinics, where the services are free. I shadowed a doctor there for 2 days and it's remarkably similar to where I worked in the US--with the additional potential diagnoses of malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, cholera, typhoid....arrrgh…

South Africa

Well, Ethan and I are not in Africa anymore. I mean, we are physically…South Africa is technically on the continent, but it’s like no Africa I’ve ever known. We spent 4 hours cruising one of the malls here. Did you catch that? “one of…” There are more than one!!! And they’re real malls. Like, way more real than we even had in Yakima! I had to choose from a massive selection of restaurants. I bought a couple of things I needed—a 220v coffee maker and tea kettle, a jacket (who knew I would need one in Africa?), and some treats for the kids. South Africa manufactures their own brands of most things we have in the US, so there aren’t a ton of US product names. I did see Grape Nuts, and was tempted, but I couldn’t stomach the $11 price tag! But everything else is so much cheaper than in Malawi, because what we have there is imported from here, at $6.80 per gallon of gas plus import tax!
Yesterday we ate at McDonalds. I wasn’t a big McD’s fan in the US (please, don’t revoke my citizenship fo…

Thanksgiving in July

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Anya and Ethan loved the leaves...Isaac, not so much!

I was already feeling rather 'fall-ish' with the chill in the air and the overcast skies. But when all the leaves fell off the trees and the kids started playing in the leaf piles, I really started to crave Yakima apple cider! And apparently I'm not the only one...for our next mission dinner to say goodbye to 3 families who are leaving, we've decided to have a thanksgiving-themed dinner. You can't get good turkey here anyway, so we're doing roasted chicken and all the fixings. Doesn't that sound good??? I can hardly wait! See, there are some good things about having your seasons all messed up--two Thanksgiving feasts! Now, if only I can figure out how to press cider from these South African apples...

End of school festivities

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This is really more for a few photos than anything witty or clever. I'm in Joburg, South Africa right now, and internet is amazing-fast compared to what we're used to, so I'm going to try and post several things that have been on my mind, and hopefully update some photos!
I also wanted to give a shout-out to my long-suffering mother who tried so hard to please me in the area of home-made clothes when I was young. I never gave her enough credit, or enough appreciation. And I never realized it until my own daughter needed a 'Queen's coronation gown' with 2 days notice! Payback is sweet, isn't it mom? Anya as 'Queen Lucy' from Narnia...thanks to leftover curtain material and a frantic day of sewing

Zomba mountain

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We went 5 hours south to the towns of Blantyre and Zomba a few weeks ago. Chad had an all-day meeting on Saturday, and then we visited with two seminary students on Sunday. Overall it was a great trip...definitely true-to-Africa, but good. The first night we stayed at a guesthouse which was not so cheap, so we had higher expectations than we should have. They wouldn't let us make reservations over the phone ("just come, you'll find plenty of rooms") and of course there were plenty of rooms...just none with more than one bed at our price range! They upgraded us to a 'nicer' room for free, and that gave us a twin and a full--for the 5 of us! So Ethan and I slept in the full, Chad got the twin, and Anya slept on the floor covered in coats because they didn't have any extra blankets. Isaac was in the pack-and-play, at least for the first 3 minutes. Then he discovered he could climb out of it, so it was the three of us in the bed. Then Anya woke up in the midd…

"Winter Break" has begun

It's quite cold here, on the second day of 'winter break'! Will I ever get used to this? BBC reported that the penguin population in South Africa has been hit hard by the 'cold snap' which has wiped out a large number of the baby chicks. If the penguins are dying of cold in South Africa, something is wrong!!! Anyway, we're surviving with our wool slippers and sweatshirts.

Day 1 went well--all 3 kids slept in until 7am which was blissful. Of course, this morning they were up at the usual 5am. Why didn't anyone tell me that the parenting lack-of-sleep extended PAST when they start sleeping through the night??? What I wouldn't do for an IHOP or Sherry's to send my morning-loving family to!

We don't have any major plans...Chad only has 3 weeks off between his terms. My class and the kids' school start up in mid-August again, so we have a little more time to enjoy each other's company. We'll try to get to the Lake, I think, and maybe a smal…

Pumpelly baby #4

I've realized from some e-mails and comments, that I have not officially made it clear that YES, baby #4 is on the way! I put it in our monthly prayer letter, but many of you are not on that e-mail list. If you aren't and would like to be, please e-mail me at pumpellys@gmail.com and I'll add you!

So yes, baby #4 (and I'm reasonably certain the LAST) is on the way. I'm due Nov 12th, so I'm about 15 weeks and already far too big for my liking (I have an outtie already!). But I'm feeling fine and the kids are excited and hoping for a girl.

Everyone has been asking about delivery plans, so I'll tell you what I know right now. A month before I'm due I'll fly down to South Africa where the medical care is top-notch. I have no concerns at all about delivering there. Chad and the kids will follow closer to the due date. I am preparing myself for a C-section again, since Anya was born that way for being breech (even though the boys were both born naturall…

Hiking the hills

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We like to get out on the weekends, let the kids get some exercise. Malawi has some great hiking areas. One not too far from us is called Bunda rock. We'd heard that people go up to the top all the time, often spending the night and praying. "It's an easy hike" we were told. So we packed up the kids, the rock-climbing gear to let the kids practice rapelling, and lunch, and headed out. We obviously did not get enough information before we left, because Bunda rock is actually lots of tall rocks with lots of places to climb with lots of local villages surrounding it! We did out best, but clearly picked the wrong place to start climbing!

Chad was loaded down with ropes and lunch, Miriam had Isaac strapped to her back, and Anya and Ethan quickly got tired of the 40 children (yes, we counted, and there were literally 40) who attached themselves to us and followed us everywhere, pulling Anya's blond hair and laughing at Ethan. As they laughed, Ethan got grumpier, and the…

The strangest sight

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Last Sunday we were driving to church when Anya pointed out a very strange sighting--a man in nothing but boxers standing outside watering his driveway (to keep the dust down). Not the kind of thing we see everyday. Now, if only that was the strangest thing we'd seen that week...

the day before we had gone to a national monument to walk through the botanical gardens surrounding it. As we were minding our own business, a bus drove up and off-loaded a group of nuns. They arranged themselves on the steps of the monument, and it became clear they were about to shoot a music video! Strange enough, huh? So we watched them sing their songs and do their choreographed swaying that is so common here. But then they were ready to do their second song, and of COURSE a costume change is in order, right? You can't shoot two videos with them wearing the same clothes! So the whole group of them stripped their tops off and changed shirts...right there on the steps of the monument, in the middle …

Photos from Anya's village stay

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I know this is late, but we've finally got a faster connection (by our standards, mind you!) at the mission office. I thought you might enjoy seeing some photos from the village. 1. our host family's house (he's the village chief's last-born son)

2. Anya playing ball with all the kids

3. the village

4. the children getting water (used for bathing, cooking, and drinking

In Whom do we trust?

In the old days of mission-work, missions used to use our abundant financial resources to fund this and pay for that, and subsidize everything. We thought we were doing good, helping our brothers and sisters, spreading equality and opportunity...

Only what we didn't realize is that, instead, we were creating dependency of the local churches on our resources. Think of the stereotyped "welfare mentality" and multiply it by 100. We created the motto, "In the missionaries we trust" because whenever there was a need, we met it. No one had to pray to God or trust in His provisions--they just had to ask the missionary or the volunteer team! Churches didn't reach their neighbors because that's what the missionaries did. They didn't plant new churches, because they couldn't afford to build them a new building and put a roof on it like the missionaries had done for them. They didn't hold training seminars for church leaders because they couldn't pa…

The saga of Blackboots continues...

So the guy came and got the goat, lovingly named Blackboots by Anya, and we managed to send him off with no tears shed from the kids. Story over, or so we thought. As we were driving out of the gate on Thursday, who should ride up but Blackboots, securely tied to the man's bicycle. Chad leaned out the window, told him we could not deal with a goat on any day but Friday, and off we drove. Imagine our surprise when we arrived home later that day and found none other than Blackboots penned up in our back yard again! To appease the kids' cries, we secured the gates and unchained Jake, the Rottweiler, to see if we could get him to 'adjust' to a new creature. All seemed to be going well so Chad went off for his afternoon lecture while I settled into grading the first exams. All of a sudden I hear the most horrible bleating, children screaming, and then our houseworker yelling. I start to run outside, then realize what must have happened, and I ran back for a weapon. All I co…

Official Lecturers!

I know I've been silent since Easter, but don't let that fool you into thinking things have been calm! We're now in week 2 of the semester, and we're both finding teaching to be much more
tiring than we imagined (and all the teachers say AMEN!). Our time of language study was quite luxuriously flexible. We could fit our studies around errands and kids' schedules and whatever came up. No longer! That's been the hardest adjustment...that and having to have all 5 of us ready to be out the door for the day by 7am! Did I mention I'm a serious anti-morning person??

But we are having a blast with the students and with teaching. I was quite nervous about it at first, but I'm enjoying it now. I think my students are too, but then it's awfully hard to get an honest eval from them! Chad's doing a great job with his classes also, and we're feeling great being around the students more.

Of course we haven't paid our phone bill or our water bill this mont…

The best Easter ever

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So we had some challenges on Christmas, if you'll remember. Not one of the highlights in my past year, though I do enjoy laughing about it at times. But I tell you...Easter was wonderful! It started out slow, with trouble finding a goat. We see and hear them all the time, so we were totally bewildered at how impossible they were to find when we actually wanted to buy one. Plus we were trying to get the best price and passed up a couple early on thinking we could do better. We ended up not getting one until 1pm on Sunday (and paying too much...needing something automatically raises the price--they can smell the desperation, I swear!). Everyone had arrived around noon--all 21 people, and we visited and the 12 kids played on the new playground Chad built. I was so relieved when Chad arrived with the goat--I had no idea how I was going to feed everyone otherwise! The men went to work killing, skinning, and cutting up the goat while us women made greens, salad, goat stew, rice and nsim…

No use crying...

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I made a delicious coffee-cake the other day, with cinnamon and coconut and melted chocolate drizzled over it. Anya wanted to help, so she pulled over the wash-tub to stand on so she could reach better. No problem until Isaac found he could climb up too, and his reach suddenly lengthened significantly. I had just poured a cup of milk out of the pitcher in order to make it sour with lemon juice, and Isaac's quick hands nearly got the cup. I breathed a sigh of relief as I grabbed it just in time and moved it beyond his grasp. But as I did so, I felt a shower on my bare feet, heard a waterfall flowing, and realized baking this cake was going to take much longer than I had planned. Isaac had poured out the entire 2Liters of milk all over the kitchen!!! In my efforts to save the cup, I sacrificed the pitcher. The clean-up was rediculous--I had to move the stove, move the fridge, wash dishes from the cupboards covered in milk-splatter. And of course that 2-Liters of milk was the last we…

Wii-ligion

I knew that Ethan was enthralled with the Wii our friends recently got, and every time we visit he begs to play. But I hadn't realized it had gotten to such a drastic level until the other day.

Ethan came running into the laundry room as I folded clothes, singing, "I just can't wait to get to heaven, to get to heaven, to get to heaven..." I asked him what he was most looking forward to in heaven:

"Playing golf with Jesus" was his answer, which surprised me since none of us play golf here on earth!

"Really?" I asked him, and he smiled sweetly and answered,

"Well, yeah, if he has a Wii"

A Carnivore's birthday

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Developing a budget here has been a challenge, because the things I assume will be expensive aren't, and the things that shouldn't be, are! It's all so confusing. For example, yesterday I had a $7 small chicken wrap and a $6 small bundle of grapes (fresh from South Africa--they were so good, and it's been a whole year since I last had grapes!) and yet I picked up Ethan's Claritin for $3. I saw some tortillas in the store the other day: $14 for 10, which is why we make our own!

But another splurge I decided was worth it was for Chad's birthday. I found a 2.3kg steak--that's just over 5 pounds!!!) for $20. What carnivore could resist??? So to celebrate birthday #34, he had a 5 pound steak with baked potatoes, rice, steamed veggies, rolls, and Duncan Heinz brownies for desert. We all shared the steak--and it still lasted for that dinner, 2 breakfasts, and 3 lunches! Who says we're suffering too much out here?

Language Evaluation

On Tuesday, we found out our evaluation would take place on Saturday. I had been so ready to have it over with I didn't even think I was nervous, but then I wrote it on the calendar and the stomach cramps began! We reviewed the material we would be responsible for with our language helper, and it seemed to go ok with him. We'd heard wonderful things about the woman who would administer the eval. And we were reminded several times: it's an evaluation, not an examination. Just to see where we are in language so we can plan for our future study where it's needed. Somehow that didn't calm my nerves any!

Saturday morning came and the kids had an uncanny way of knowing something was up. Could have been the terror in my eyes, I suppose, but regardless, they did everything possible to increase our anxiety level! After a rough morning of fighting and ignoring and pestering each other, we got them to a friend's house and we drove over to where our 'eval' would be.…

The Rains

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The rains have arrived in all their glory. As the photo indicates, it was a welcome arrival to say the least. Green grass, corn fields, and flowers have sprung up everywhere. Of course, instead of dust we now have mud, but even that can't damper our spirits too much.

I am amazed at how things grow anywhere and everywhere here. Every unoccupied yard has become a corn field. Alleys between houses, what used to be rubbish heaps, the berms beside major roads...they're all corn fields now. Since the main food is made from corn-meal, these fields are essential to survival. So far, it appears it should be a good harvest in October. I pray it is: our house helper had to take a loan of 4-month's salary to pay for the fertilizer in hopes of being able to feed his family for the whole year on his crop!

This time is called the 'season of hunger' because last year's maize is running out about now, and they aren't able to harvest this year's yet. Petty crime escalate…

Parenting Genius Backfires

Our dogs are always chewing on things and jumping up, and I've read all the books on being a good doggy-mom, so I got the spray bottle to 'humanely' discipline them. And it works!!! Gotta love a blast of cold water in the face to make your will known. SOOOOOOO....
Since it works with dogs, couldn't it perhaps work with a strong-willed 1-year old? Better than smacking hands or flicking ears, surely! So we've been having trouble with Isaac screaming, and I mean ear-piercing screams, whenever he wants something like another bite or a drink. It makes for a very noisy dinner, not to mention a splitting headache. So last night, in order to more fully enjoy our Ranch-marinated Tilopia filets with rice, I got the spray bottle out. As soon as he discovered he likes fish, the screeching began. I wiped out the spray bottle, ready to withstand his anger until it worked it's magic and changed his behavior, and gave it a squirt. I would do anything to have captured on video …

Life after Christmas

It may seem that I’ve been silent since our fateful Christmas day, but I assure you we have not been still! We were able to get away to the lake for a wonderful 3 day-2 night stay in a ‘beach-front’ villa complete with kitchen, living room, and house-helper who washed our dishes and swept up the sand the kids brought in. LOVELY! The place was situated between two villages, so our beach-play was curiously watched by hundreds of kids and not a few women washing clothes and men bathing, but that’s what Africa’s all about, after all!

After an uneventful time, we drove home, deciding to stop at a small game park along the way. We got all of 1 km into the park when Chad stopped the car, and said in all seriousness, “If I go another foot, I’m going to get stuck in the mud. If I reverse out of here, I’m going to get stuck in the mud. What should I do?” We opted for reversing…and we got stuck in the mud. To give him the due credit, Chad did an amazing job and almost made it before the mud final…