Mini-Me

I noticed early on that Naomi is a mini-me. She looks like me, and has several of my characteristics. The strong ones! You know, the bossy, opinionated, independent ones. She excels me in some areas though, and I fully attribute her athleticism and great sense of humor to Matt. But in so many ways, she’s a mini-me. And then yesterday, I was reminded that I am a near photocopy of my mom. When I was 16 I saw a picture of my mom at the same age and thought it was myself. And so it makes sense that my daughter looks like my mom. Courtesy of my dad, check out and compare the pictures of Naomi at 4 years old, and my beautiful mother, Mary Beth Smith, when she was 4 years old:

Normal Life

After a couple days of adventures, we were glad to get back to “normal” life by the end of the week. Here are a few glimpses of the last couple days, in no particular order… just us, living normal life!

Abigail has been very interested in art, so we took a couple hours to go to Round and Square during our shopping trip on Thursday. She had some great ideas to go with her water paints, and then Miss Sue, who is the server and hostess at Round and Square, brought Abi a couple kids’ art books to inspire her. So fun!!!

Abi may be pursuing watercolors like her mom, but Naomi is trying a little photography, just like her dad! Not bad for a four year old!

Meanwhile, the last of the fields in town are being burned in preparation for planting. We’ve had 2 rains now, the last 2 weekends, and it looks like we will have more rain within the week. And yes, by “field,” I mean every available piece of land, including all verges and any land that someone else hasn’t already planted.

After a couple days of crazy, my sweet husband took us out to dinner. Not only that, he kept the whole family entertained the entire time! I love this guy! He started drawing a picture, and then we each in turn had 30 seconds to continue the picture and add to it.

We all loved it! It has so much of everyone’s personality in it, including “a baby sun and a daddy sun!” thanks to Naomi!

Our finished product:

Lastly: my tree. Each member of the family has their own tree in our yard. Mine is a flamboyant, and I love everything about it, especially this time of year as it has the most beautiful blooms!

Thanks for reading along and joining us in these normal but special moments of life!

Last Day of Three

Today was Naomi’s last day of being three. I do think I may have given her more hugs and enjoyed her snuggles that much more just because I can’t believe we are almost done with three.

This girl is so ready to grow up! She was over being three about a month ago! And just in the last few days, I’ve seen that sweet four begin to emerge: extra (and actually) helpful, growing more and more articulate, and becoming independent in so many ways. She still has that cute little girl voice, and I can say without a doubt that her zest for life and sparkly things and her spunky sense of humor have only increased! We have loved her as a three year old, and we are excited to see what four looks like!

Sneaky the Chop-chop

This morning the girls found a small chop-chop in their room.

It was mostly dead (due to the Fendona we sprayed last week).

But not completely, because it walked off the paper!

And then Matt left for CAPA for the whole day, and FORGOT TO REMOVE THIS THING FROM MY KITCHEN COUNTER!

I composted him in short order. Don’t tell Naomi. She had named him Sneaky, and informed us “he’s the bad brother.”

But this isn’t the first time we’ve had a chop-chop in the house – check out Matt’s post and photo shoot of our last, larger chop-chop.

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!

Olympian Swimming

We have the unique privilege here in Malawi of swimming with our very own Olympian. Brave Lifa competed for Malawi in the Rio Olympics, and as a way to make a little money to get himself through college, he teaches some kids how to swim. Our kids!

Abigail started taking lessons this time last year, and she made quick work of learning all the swim strokes. She is now perfecting those strokes, gaining endurance, and soon will be learning tumble turns.

Naomi was too young to take lessons last year. Brave said kids don’t have enough muscle memory to really benefit from lessons until they’re 4 years old. Since Naomi turns 4 in just 3 weeks, she squeezed into the class this year. And today was her first day! Blow some bubbles, girl!

Abigail had just finished her lesson, so she volunteered to be Coach Brave’s assistant for the little kids’ class. He had her join in with the class and demonstrate form for some of the things they were learning, like the gliding position.

Naomi has always been fearless in the water, but today she actually got to do something with that bravery. Ah yes, pun intended!

We just love swim lessons! Brave, outside of being an Olympic swimmer, is a fantastic coach. The kids love him and trust him, and that motivates them to work hard. We are so thankful for this coach and this opportunity to see our girls excel at swimming. And it’s fun to boot!

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!

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!

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!