Around the Kitchen

A good portion of my day is spent in the kitchen. Here are some of the things happening around the kitchen these days…

Don’t be jealous, but wow isn’t that beautiful?!? Our avocado tree produced some fantastic fruit this year. We had bucket-loads of guacamole!

Yep, still hauling water! But thankfully only from one side of the kitchen to the other. Some friends of mine have had their city water off for weeks at a time and must haul their water from the local well. It makes me thankful for our water tower!

Pork meatballs with sweet and sour sauce in lettuce wraps… yum! I’ve been cooking my way through a fantastic “better than take-out” Chinese e-cookbook, and we are loving it!

Our friends Chris and Ashley brought us wild raspberries after their recent trip to the Zomba plateau – the only place in Malawi that grows them! Naomi in particular loves the raspberries from Zomba (especially the yellow ones that are in season around her birthday!).

We made quick work of the raspberries and enjoyed every bite!

I loved hanging noodles as a kid. We can buy pasta here, but we can’t get egg noodles, so when we made chicken noodle soup the other night, the girls helped me make and hang noodles. And they loved it! 💕

And since mom hangs out in the kitchen, so do mom’s little friends. All kinds of new skills are learned here, including this current favorite. She’s actually pretty good. She just needs a little more height!

How to MacGyver a Pedal

As we waited our turn to practice before the service yesterday, I saw something under the keyboard that caught my attention. It took a few seconds for my mind to grasp what I was seeing:

Yep, that’s a sustain pedal made from an old stapler! The chapel we rent for church services has a BYOP policy: Bring Your Own Pedal. However, since the last time I played, someone has come up with this back-up plan! I have to admit I was a little afraid of getting shocked by it, so I used the more traditional pedal. But really, this is genius! As Moses, the worship leader, said with a shrug: “TIA!” Yes, This Is Africa. And I love it!

Ready, Set Bone

Considering the events of yesterday, we had a surprisingly good night. Matt was up to give Abi Tylenol about 11:30pm, and I was up to do the same at 3:30am. Then the girls slept until 7:01 – a Floreen girl record for sleeping in late!

Right after breakfast the girls and I jumped in the car and headed back to the orthopedic doctor. They had told us to come back in the morning, so we got there about 8:30. No doctor. He wouldn’t be in until 2pm. So ended our first clinic visit of the day.

Back in the car, we drove all the way across town to Partners in Hope. Dr Barrett Jones (fondly known in our house as “Judson’s Dad”) had been consulting with us since the accident the afternoon before. We knew he wanted to see the X-ray anyway, and we like the X-ray tech there, so we walked into our second clinic of the day about 9am.

All checked in and reading Tintin comics while we wait!

Abi is apparently an X-ray pro now. She knew exactly what to do. Oye, I’m sure it’s not a good thing that she’s so good at doing X-rays, or that we have a favorite X-ray tech… but I’m thankful for competent medical staff here in Malawi!

Naomi came along for moral support. In the whole event of “Aslan” jumping off the ottoman that started all this, Naomi was playing Peter, brave and faithful. She continued in the brave and faithful role for today’s encore of clinic visits.

Yep, looks like there’s a problem in there…

The rest of the world is probably totally used to this, but we still think digital X-rays are fascinating! The buckle fracture is just below the mouse arrow, with evidence of the buckle on both sides.

Once diagnosis was confirmed, we just needed to wait for the orthopedic guy to recheck the X-rays at 2pm and decide if we needed a cast or not. As we already had plans to meet our dear friend Rene for lunch, we kept that appointment while we waited for 2pm! Such a sweet time with a great friend!

Just after 2pm found us at our third clinic visit for the day, back to see the orthopedic guy!

And this time we got to see him! Dr Manda said the break would heal quickly and likely not even leave any trace of having been broken. Since it was so straightforward, he recommended a brace as opposed to a cast. He also highly discouraged playing lions or any animals for the duration of the brace. Smiles all around!

The brace should be with us for the next 4 weeks, with no playing animals, running, jumping, or carrying heavy objects. Our hearts are all lighter from the relief of just knowing what had happened to the bone and of having the wrist and arm stabilized. We are so thankful to the Lord for his protection of Abigail and his sustaining grace over the last 24 hours! Thank you all for keeping us in your prayers!

After Hours Broken Bones

Late this afternoon, Abigail and Naomi were playing “Narnia.” Abigail was Aslan, and made a flying leap off the ottoman, to land on her hands on the hard tile floor. “It felt like my bone bent,” she said. Amidst much screaming.

Our doctor recommended the orthopedic doctor at the Seventh Day Adventist Clinic, so we headed there. We got there just before 5pm.

Abi was a champ. Her arm hurt about an inch above her wrist, and there was no big bump or obvious break, so I wasn’t too worried about displacement of the bone. We checked in at the clinic and waited.

Back in another part of town, Matt dropped Naomi off at the Kopps house, and told them Abi wouldn’t be joining them tonight. They were both supposed to hang out with the Kopp family tonight while Matt and I went on a date. We had called in an order for our favorite Indian food and we were going to take it home and watch a movie. Instead, he picked up our food and met Abigail and I at the clinic, where she got to join us for our dinner date!

A little after 6pm, I started asking questions. Where was the Dr? Could we just go ahead and get an X-ray while we waited? Not many answers were forthcoming. Someone tried to call the orthopedic doctor, but he didn’t answer. Finally, another doctor told us the orthopedic guy had gone home for the night about 45 minutes ago, and besides, their radiology department closed at 4:30pm.

Hmmm. That would have been nice to know when we arrived just before 5pm. The doctor told us that at this time of evening there was almost no place in town to get an X-ray that was not considered an emergency. He was very kind though, and gave us a reference to a diagnostic clinic in another part of town (Area 6) that could do the X-ray. We headed to the car, and had a frank discussion with Abigail. We knew even if we got the X-rays, no one would be able to treat her arm until the morning. In the end, we all agreed to go home, gently splint her arm, and try again in the morning.

So she’s in bed now, with her arm wrapped in an ace bandage and strapped gently to a foam cushion. Poor kid! Please pray for her tonight. Pray she can sleep well and that we’ll be able to get this taken care of quickly in the morning!

MacGyver

Every once in a while, I get to MacGyver something. The latest, my flip-flops:

I love Haviana flip-flops, and I wear them about 80% of the time. I know, they have no support and are killing my feet, but they are so easy, they breathe great in the heat, and they dry quickly in the rains. So when my only pair of Haviana flip-flops broke, I needed to fix them.

The causality was the little button on the bottom of the shoe that holds the toe straps to the sole. Glueing it back together does not work – tried that before. So this time I used a large safety pin, as seen in the picture above. It works great! It’s been there since the beginning of December (6 weeks now), and the only drawback has been that it gets caught in thick carpet. But really, we live in the tropics and thick carpets aren’t very common in our hot wet weather, so it’s really not a problem!

Yes, I will buy myself a new pair of Havianas when we are next on furlough, but for now: problem solved!

Bike Taxi of the Day

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stand-up bike taxi before today, but I was really impressed that this guy was texting on his phone while riding/standing on the bike! Although… considering the skill with which Malawians handle dugout canoes, I shouldn’t be surprised!

Last Week

Things were a little too busy and chaotic to post much last week. We spent the week living in a half put-together house,

finding our toiletries in the hallway,

storing our laundry and all miscellaneous chairs in the living room,

and navigating the rearranged furniture in our rooms.

Meanwhile, we had all the white door frames throughout the house and all the tiles in the master bathroom painted with stinky oil paint, and then sprayed the interior walls of our house with Fendona, a crystalline version of permethrin.

And so we spent 3 nights sleeping in our tent, in our backyard, to avoid the various smells in our house.

Despite all the chaos, we had fun camping! Our family loves to camp! And it’s nice now to have so much of our house “finished” and back together. We are not quite done, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel!

Kids and Markets

I love raising kids in Africa. Life is laid back and out in the open. People laugh and talk to one another. There is color, nature, beauty, and adventure. It’s truly a great place to raise fun, imaginative, resourceful kids. There are a few things here, though, that I’ve had to think more carefully about than I would if I were raising my kids in the States. One of those things is the market. Abigail has been to the market before, but not for quite a while, and that only because she was in tow with the grandparents or with Mom and Dad running errands. It can be hard to take kids to the market: you have to bargain for everything, watch where you’re going, watch for pickpockets, and keep a close eye on the kids. I don’t have that many eyes! But Abigail is growing up, so today, for the first time as a big kid of 7, she came to help me shop at the Old Bus Depot Market.

Our goal was fabric in the chitinje market. We were looking for new curtains for the project room, a valance for the kitchen, shower curtains, and some fabric to make bags for the girls’ ballet things.

We got busy and found all kinds of things! Some of them we needed, and some… for fun! Most of the fabric here is $1/yard (MWK1500 for 2 meters), so sometimes I pick up fabrics I like but have no purpose in mind for them. Some will go back to the States with visiting professors, some will become skirts for me and the girls. It all works out. Don’t talk to my husband about this. He has very different ideas about fabric hoarding/loving. 😬😁 He’s probably right, so for the sake of my sewing shelves and the love of my husband, I only go to the chitinje market 2-3 times a year. Abigail, I would guess, takes after me when it comes to loving fabric. Me with a bent toward the style of the early 80s. I guess I was 7 years old in the early 80s, so we are right on track.

It was a successful trip to the market. Fabric-wise, we found something for every project we had in mind, and only 2 pieces of “ooo, that will be great for something!” Abigail chatted with the ladies, befriended a one-legged chicken under the tables, and had a great time experiencing more of Africa. It was fun to adventure with her, and we are looking forward to lots more adventures together!

Construction Zone

The paint-the-house project necessitated a few home repairs before we started with the paint. But when you need a whole truckful of sand and lyme for the concrete and plaster projects, well, you know you live in a mud brick house. Stronger mud! That’s what we need!

Some of the repairs are related to water seeping up where the original builders “forgot” to put down that layer of plastic that keeps water from seeping in. Note to self: if you ever build a house, that plastic sheet is mandatory!!! Other repairs are little things like moving this light switch, which for years has lived behind the open hall door. I’ll probably keep moving the door to turn on the light switch for months, but having it in a more logical place makes me feel like we have righted a wrong!

In this picture, you can see 2 new holes in my kitchen ceiling. My wonderful husband is having down-lights installed that will focus on the work areas, and putting the new lights on the inverter. No more chopping vegetables by candlelight!

And the painting continues… bathrooms today. Two coats in each of 3 bathrooms for today.

But look at those clean, shiny, newly-painted kitchen walls and cupboards!

Once the dust settles (literally) today, I’ll move back into that beautiful kitchen!

Bones and Clinics

I haven’t said a lot on the blog about the medical system here, mostly because we haven’t been there recently. God has blessed us with good health, so generally we haven’t spent much time at the Dr’s office, but Abigail dropped a gas canister on her big toe and gave us a chance to document a visit to the clinic.

The offending gas canister was of the 9kg variety and thankfully not the 19kg variety. Abigail and I had been out to the gas company Thursday afternoon to get both a 9kg and a 19kg gas bottle refilled. The 9kg bottle is for our grill (South African: braai), and the 19kg bottle is for our stove/oven. Matt took the 19kg bottle out of the truck and rolled it to its spot, and Abigail decided to be helpful and take the 9kg bottle out of the truck. It fell straight in her big toe. If you know these bottles, you know that the bottoms are not round, rather there is a rim around the outside of the canister. So the full weight of 9kgs of gas and whatever the weight of the bottle itself was… all landed right on her big toe. Ouch.

She was brave. I’m sure it hurt a lot! Thankfully she was wearing sturdy sneakers at the time, and that probably saved her a lot of grief! I sent a message to a couple doctor friends, including our primary physician here in Malawi, Barrett Jones, and the consensus was that we didn’t need to do anything with it that night (5:45 pm and most clinics are closed), but could go in to see Barrett in the morning and get an X-ray.

So in the morning we headed to Partners in Hope clinic, one of the best stocked and staffed hospitals/clinics/pharmacies in town.

It’s an impressive building for Malawi!

Like Drs’ offices around the world, you spend a bit of time in the waiting room. These girls are good at waiting though…

so they asked for a couple soldiers (who live in my purse) and had an imaginary war. But they were on the same side… and I don’t know who the bad guys were. That didn’t seem to be an important part of the war.

It wasn’t long before we were called back to see Dr Jones. The girls know him as “Judson’s dad,” so he’s considered a friendly.

The moment of truth: broken or not?

It’s not. But the bone is bruised, so no ballet class this week, but she should be back to normal in a few days. When Barrett was looking over the X-ray, I asked him a couple vaccination questions. (I know, some people don’t like vaccines, but we live where all those diseases live, so we get them.) He mentioned that they currently had the MMR vaccine – which is pretty rare and very sought after here! – so I jumped at the chance, much to the distress of my girls. Procedure here is that I had to go pay for the supplies, pick them up, and then take them to the nurses’ station. Thankfully all these stops are in the same building, so I filled out insurance paperwork in lieu of paying, and headed to the pharmacy to pick up the vaccines. They handed me a small black shopping bag which contained an ice pack and 2 vials.

The girls were not thrilled at the prospect of getting “a poke,” but Abigail liked my reasoning that it was better to get it right away rather than wait and worry for a couple weeks. She volunteered to go first and get it over with. Those of you with kids will know that there’s a point, around age 7, when a kid suddenly grows up, seemingly overnight. This was that day for Abigail. Logical reasoning and self-control won out over tears and panic. You can see that she’s still a little bit concerned, but she handled it like a champ!

Naomi, however, is still 3, and no amount of logical reasoning was going to convince her that this was even remotely a good idea. She held my finger so tightly while we watched brave Abigail that my finger turned purple.

Sweet girl! She made it through and got her vaccine, though parts of it resembled wrestling a crocodile. Someday she will grow up too, but for now she just wants her mom. And I’m totally ok with that.

Photo credit to Abigail for that great shot of what it means to be a mom!

That was our clinic adventure! As much as we appreciate this great clinic, and as much as we like “Judson’s dad,” we’re going to try to stay healthy and accident-free for a while now!