Kiboko

There are not a lot of places for kids to play on play equipment in Malawi. Now, before you get concerned that my kids don’t get to play, you should know that they play ALL THE TIME, with things like sticks, bugs, dirt, sand, etc, etc. They love it, and so do I. But play equipment is a treat. So for a special family outing yesterday, we went to the Kiboko Hotel restaurant for lunch, because they have some play equipment. And not just any play equipment!

Yes! They have a Land Rover playground! It’s this awesome?!? I am told that the rocking zebra likes to run away with little girls though, so one must be careful! 😉

In addition to the awesome play equipment, they have great smoothies…

And wonderful banana pancakes!

To top it all off, we — all of us — decided to eat our lunch in the Land Rover, just because we could.

All fueled up, we’re off on another adventure!

Inside, Outside Today

Today Abigail and I are watching Season 1 of Shaun the Sheep with a sick little Naomi. She’s doing better now, but it was a rough morning.

Naomi isn’t letting me go very far, so rather than jumping on that list of housework I need to catch up on, I’m sitting here looking at the housework: the accumulation of dusty winds, saw dust from woodworking, and fine powdery dust from plaster work… on my living room side table. Looks like someone was having a little fun with it!

It’ll keep for another day. Today I’m going to hold my baby.

Outside is another matter. Fun things are happening out there! Richard and Matt have mounted a stand for our soon-to-be-installed solar water heater.

And Ernest is building customized stands to hold our soon-to-be-installed solar panels! These panels will feed into our inverter, which can prioritize that the power we use first comes from solar, then from the electric company, and then from the back-up batteries, for all those hours our power is off (13.5 hours off yesterday!). The customized part is related to the pitch of our roof and maximizing sunshine reception with the best angle.

Fun, noisy things happening outside, and quiet, good things happening inside. That’s our world here at the Floreen home today!

Bibliophiles

We are quite happily raising a family of bibliophiles. WE LOVE BOOKS! We love libraries, we love other people’s books, and we love bookstores. Libraries here in Malawi are rare and poorly stocked, but thankfully we now have a great used bookstore in Lilongwe!

The lady who runs it loves baobab trees, so it’s named Baobab Bookstore, and the decor follows the name.

I think my girls have barely noticed the trees. There are books, and that’s all they can think about.

The bargain table books are 500 kwacha (68 cents), and most others are 1,500-3,000 kwacha (between $2 and $4). The selection is a bit limited, naturally, but really not that bad. And we’ve discovered some British authors we might never have found – like Enid Blyton, one of Abigail’s current favorites.

Today’s choices: a cross stitch book that will be useful in sewing class in the next couple weeks, the yellow storybook for Naomi, and The Wizard of Oz and a book on sharks for Abigail.

All done, let’s go home. Hello, family? Hmmm, lost them back in the bookstore…

Mondays

You know what happens on Fridays around here… here’s what a Monday looks like!

I was up bright and early this Monday – out to exercise and start the day by 5am.

I’m really enjoying the early morning piano times. I don’t spend the hour that I would want to spend practicing, but I play through a few songs and am regaining strength and familiarity in my fingers. Practice makes perfect!

We are considering painting a section of chalkboard wall on our porch, so Matt hung a dry erase board there as a trial run. I’m really enjoying it! You’re not going to see my barely creative handiwork on Instagram or anything like that, but I hear my kids talking about it throughout the day. That totally makes it worth it!

Matt leads the family in devotions over breakfast every morning. We are going through Long Story Short right now, and really enjoying it! You can see where we are at in Genesis – the brothers are just about to find out who Joseph is, and we are all waiting on the edge of our seats!

Not a part of every Monday, we spent some time this Monday working out some freezer issues. The inverter is not quite big enough to handle both the freezer and the fridge, so we have them on timers right now. There’s a bit of tinkering required to balance keeping both appliances the correct temperature when they have to share the electricity. But I think we got that sorted. But then, of course, one of the plug fuses went out, getting super hot, melting part of the plug… which we only discovered because Naomi tripped on the cord and unplugged it. So Matt changed out the whole plug to resolve that issue. I love having a most resourceful and helpful handyman around!

School! It’s what we do around here! One of Abigail’s favorite things this year is a geography book that has a corresponding CD of geography songs! She can sing all about the continents and oceans, sing all 15 countries of the Middle East, and now she even knows a song all about Scandinavia.

With Scandinavian music coming from my computer and from Abigail, Naomi decided we needed a Scandinavian dance… with a lady bug costume skirt. I couldn’t agree more – it was exactly what we needed!

School stops at 9:30 on Mondays so we can set up for playgroup. We host a weekly 7 and under playgroup at our house for the homeschooling families, which doubles as PE and social time.

Highlight of the week! Friends coming over!

We have a few snacks and drinks set up…

But mostly there are just packs of kids running around our yard. This is Nadia’s animal collection. There was a bunny, a kangaroo, a crab, a street dog… yes, these kids are growing up in Africa, as evidenced by the fact that an animal collection includes a “street dog.”

While the kids play, the moms get a chance to chat and drink coffee. Win-win!

But the time playgroup ends at noon, I’m looking for something quick for lunch. It’s usually scrambled eggs!

A laundry switch-around happens after lunch. We are experiencing longer and longer power cuts these days, so I have to do laundry when the power is on! Doesn’t matter if it’s a busy morning, or if I have 5 families of kids here – the laundry must go on!

Then Naomi and I are off the ballet. She wasn’t so sure about this class the first day, but she puts her whole heart into it now. It’s so precious!

The class is for 4-5 year olds (Naomi is almost 4, so they let her in), and the major skills they are working on are: paying attention, walking on tip-toe, leaping with straight legs, and skipping. Oh the skipping! I love it! Naomi is so determined! She’s about half way there… as in one foot knows how to skip but the other hasn’t figured it out yet!

Back home for a counseling/discipleship meeting. Naomi goes down for a nap, Abigail reads in the playroom, and I have a window to meet with some of the ladies in the church. I really enjoy these times. I can’t tell you about them of course, so you get this cute little picture of my basket garden!

Rest time is over and it’s snack time! Yes, I’m giving my daughter Fruit Loops while I eat a cucumber.

Back to school. We didn’t finish it all before 9:30, so we did the last hour outside in the shade.

Naomi does the playing part of school for us. 😊 And this face is in response to “You get to go the Kopp’s house for dinner tonight!”

With the kids delivered to the Kopps’ house, I got to go to dinner with this guy! Our date night trade off with the Kopps is a fantastic thing! I love talking with this guy, and I love getting to be his wife. I think of how great he is throughout the day as I see him having days just as busy as mine, usually busier, but every second Monday I get a dedicated opportunity to enjoy his company. I am one lucky girl!

Sewing Class

We are broadening our repertoire here at the Floreen Primary School. Today we started a sewing class!

My students were very busy working on their projects. I taught them to thread their needles…

And they worked on some practice stitches.

I showed them a sample that I had thrown together quickly, based on a great blog I follow, and then let them design their own.

Naomi knew immediately that she wanted to make a monster.

Abigail liked the flower idea, but went for a different style. Hers is still in process, but she’s doing great!

There Goes Another One!

We had a busy day yesterday with the team coming for dinner, but meanwhile, on the home front, we had a small victory. It was tooth pulling day.

A month ago our dentist friend, Estelle, had looked at Abigail’s mouth and told her she had 4 weeks to pull her wiggly tooth, and if she hadn’t pulled it by the 5th of September she would need to come in to the dentists’ office and have it pulled. Abi wiggled the tooth half-heartedly until… the 5th of September. I told her that morning, Ms Estelle is out of the country, so I can’t take you to see her – we just need to pull it.

She wiggled it a bit more. I tried to pull it but couldn’t get a good grip, even with a wash cloth. Matt tried and couldn’t get it either. You’ll notice in the first picture that the adult tooth has already come in behind the baby tooth – it’s hard to get a grip with that other tooth in the way! You might also notice in that first picture that orthodontics are in our future. There’s no way a mouthful of adult teeth are going to fit in that mouth! Sadly that’s already been confirmed by 2 dentists and 1 orthodontist.

Matt finally suggested tying a piece of dental floss to the tooth and just letting her play with the floss until the tooth came out. I get a little woozy about teeth, so I was all in favor of this happening somewhere where I wouldn’t see it!

So Abigail went off to rest time with a book and a piece of dental floss sticking out of her mouth. It took her all of 10 minutes to decide to just yank it out!

Two down, 18 to go. Someone bring me the smelling salts!

Family Fun in the Great Outdoors

We have “Family Fun Night” every Sunday, and this week we decided to have an earlier, outdoor version. So you could say we had Family Fun Afternoon.

The war memorial square is one of the only paved, open spaces in town for running and exercise, so we threw the bike and scooter in the car and headed to the war memorial. Matt ran along with Abigail, and I walked with Naomi… walked with her, pushed her, whatever. 😉

< 'm pretty sure that when this kid gets some real wheels she will be unstoppable. For now, she can hang out with me!

Abigail gave Matt a good workout with her 4km of speedy biking. He figures that once we get her a new bike, she’ll be faster than he can run. She almost is, and that’s saying something!

Another Family Fun time in the books, and fun was had by all!

Going Out to Eat

There are a lot more restaurants here in Lilongwe than when we moved here years ago, so every once in a while we go out to eat as a family. Yesterday was a bit sad for our family, so Matt took us all out for dinner, to one of our favorite places.

Kortasia is a Korean restaurant with a decidedly African motif. We love their sesame chicken, their sweet and sour chicken, and their bibimbap. It does seem like an odd atmosphere in which to eat Korean food, but it’s fun – and the food is great!

The girls enjoy the adventure of going out to eat, but they especially enjoy the little goodies I keep in my purse for such times. A family of bunny finger puppets, some plastic lizards, a little tub of Play-dough, and the current favorite, which has been nicknamed “stencil and a pencil.” Abigail and Matt use the stencil to write codes to each other, and Naomi and I draw pictures for one another.

Pictures and a few letters. She thinks it’s so great that she can write “Omi” all on her own. Yep, a little bit of school, even on a night out!

Goodbye Priscilla!

Today was a sad day for our family. Our good friend, Priscilla, worked her last day with our family and will next week move far to the north to go to University of Malawi in Mzuzu. Priscilla has been part of our family for more than 3 years. She watched the girls for 4+ years while I taught Bible study, and then about 3 years ago worked full time for us when Martha was on leave for Timothy’s birth. After working full time for us, we realized this lady was a keeper. So she started watching the girls Tuesday and Wednesday mornings so that I could teach and catch up on other things around the house, like finances, blogging, etc. She also worked the afternoons and did all the housekeeping “extras” for us, like dusting the whole house, changing bed linens, washing windows, etc. We have loved her company, her diligence, and her friendship for many years.

The girls adore Priscilla. She played make-believe with then, served tea parties, read books with them… She was that rare find of a nanny who loves your kids, plays with them, and teaches them with kindness. Look at those little grommets! They wanted a picture with Priscilla when we went on a 3 month furlough a couple years ago, so they wouldn’t forget her!

Priscilla will be missed in our home, but we know she is making an excellent choice. She is extremely intelligent, and will be pursuing her degree in accountancy. We know she will do excellent work in her studies, and we are excited for all the employment opportunities that will open for her with such a degree!

She will certainly be overqualified to be our nanny, but these girls are growing up now. With Naomi in Pre-K and Abigail in 2nd grade, school fills our days and we no longer need a nanny. But for the next 4 years every time we drive north through Mzuzu, we are going to go find our dear friend Priscilla! This friend is a keeper!

The Boys

We have some great dogs. Simba is 1/4 Rhodesian Ridgeback and 3/4 Great Dane, and came to us as a little puppy almost 8 years ago. A few years ago, Simba got a “wife,” and they had 2 litters of puppies. The “wife” moved to America with her family and the puppies went all different directions – except Samson, who came to live with his dad.

Samson moved in and, at 6 weeks old, promptly moved his dad out of basket and bowl. He’s been the boss ever since! But who wouldn’t love this face?

Answer: any Malawian. Malawians don’t like 1) dogs, 2) big dogs, or 3) black dogs. These guys are the perfect security pair. And they love and are loved by our girls.

In fact, one of the girls’ favorite games is Follow Simba. One day I found Naomi sitting on the steps in the garage:

“What are you doing, Omi?”

“Following Simba.”

“Where is he?”

“Sleeping under the car. I’m waiting for him.”

Now that’s dedication!