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!

UCLA Team

For the last week and a half we have had 6 of the 15 member team from Grace Community Church staying at our house. They’re all part of the Grace on Campus Bible study at UCLA, and this is the 4th time that group has sent a team to Malawi. They come every year now for the first module of CAPA (Central African Preaching Academy) to help with student registration and to interview the students.

Tuesday night was our turn to have the whole group over for dinner, so we hauled everything outside and had a great time enjoying the cool evening with this team!

Rachael brought over some sugar cane, so Matt taught everyone how to “eat” it.

Eat isn’t really the word, because you chew up the pulp to suck out the juices, then spit the pulp out. Just imagine liquid sugar… which is exactly what it is!

The texture is about like chewing on toothpicks, but that doesn’t stop anyone!

Though it does take a while to get the knack of things!

Dinner was a hit, and I won the game. Anyone else play “the game”? It’s when you estimate food for a group, and you hit it perfectly. We had 20 people for dinner, at 2 tables, and we had 4 1/2 pieces of chicken left over – 2 at one table, 2.5 at the other. You don’t win the game if there’s no food left: you didn’t make enough. And you don’t win if you have lots leftover. You don’t even win it you have 1 piece leftover: that’s the “Christian piece” that no one wants to take because it’s the last piece. 😊 So 2 or 2 1/2 pieces of chicken per table is perfect. Everyone had enough and we didn’t run out! Yes, I’m a kitchen nerd.

It was fun to sit around and chat with this group, to hear what they’ve been learning and experiencing. Having interviewed some of the same students for multiple years, they are seeing growth in the lives of the CAPA students! They were also able to go to some of the students’ churches this weekend, and have been thinking through their experiences and pondering the ways in which they have seen God working – here in Malawi and in their own lives. You can check out the group’s blog here: http://malawi2017stm.wordpress.com.

As the sun set and dinner ended, the twinkle lights began to show in the trees. It’s hard to believe that there were no trees in the yard when we moved here! It’s such a nice space now!

No outdoor meal is complete without a bonfire, so we brought out the marshmallows and had some s’mores. We even had mice shaped marshmallows for the more Malawian s’mores experience!

We are thankful for the work this team is doing. They have conducted and transcribed 100+ interviews with the CAPA students this year. As the team finishes up the interviews and posts them online, you can get to know the students and hear their testimonies at: http://capa.prayformalawi.com/students

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!

Fridays

We are only 2 weeks into school, but I can already tell Fridays are going to be “that day.” You know, the day when you end up doing 18 things that weren’t on the schedule. I actually kind of like those days – you never know what adventure is coming next! On the flip-side, the homeschool mom part of me goes “Oh no! How will we ever get a full day of school in?!?” Thankfully Sonlight curriculum is heavier on the front part of the week and lighter on the last couple days, so it somehow all seems to work out… at least it has for the last couple weeks!

Today we did a bit of school, then we picked up Amy, Micah, and Sophie Temple, dropped off Abigail and Micah at their Institute for Excellence in Writing class, and headed to the stationary store with Amy and Sophie.

I had a lot of color copies to print and we are getting low on ink at home, so I just printed at the stationary shop. Two-sides printing is evidently very interesting for 3 and 4 year olds, because Naomi and Sophie were fascinated by the process. They even got good at making the sucking noise the printer makes when it pulls the page back in to print side number two. Who needs video games when you have a printer to watch?!?

I got my pages printed, had some little flip books bound, and laminated a bunch of cards. For some strange reason, lamination is inexpensive here, so we laminate lots of school things!

Pick up the school kids, drop off the Temples, back to the shop to finish printing. Rush home for lunch, dress Abigail as a ballerina, and we’re off to ballet class! As I sit on the decking outside the ballet studio and cross my legs, I’m reminded of a run in I had with a piece of chunky bamboo last night.

Yep, I broke a toe.

Abigail dances beautifully, and we head out to buy 48 eggs from my friend Shannon before heading home where some college girls are baking cookies. Did I mention we have 6 college students living with us? More on that great group later. Today, the important part was that they made my house smell like a giant, delicious chocolate chip cookie!

We finished up school for the day, and by that point, I was trying to figure out what I could make and get on the table in half an hour. Ramen noodles with tuna! My family loves it, and I spring for the good ramen with the little pack of dried vegetables, so I don’t feel guilty pulling that out on a Friday!

It was a busy day, but I’m pretty sure I had a better day than this guy did.

It’s always an adventure, here in Malawi. It feels normal to me now, like every day should have a little bit of adventure in it. My setting may be different – and adventurous – but my days probably sound familiar to many of you moms. Kids’ school stuff, get a few things printed at FedEx, a little grocery shopping, and kids’ activities. It’s the life of a mom. It’s my life, and I love it. I also love where I get to do it – my own little piece of adventure!

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!

Abigail Turns 7!

We had a birthday at our house!

Abigail turned 7 yesterday. She got roses, paper balloons, a sign, bunting, a Birthday Girl badge, and her choice for breakfast: pancakes. She was in 7th heaven! (Pun intended!) She also got presents.

A detective kit, her own collection of Arch books, an origami kit, and more books.

Naomi had helped me put the finishing touches on Abi’s cake. She kept returning to the fridge all day just to check and make sure the cake was still there!

The Temples and the Misomalis came for dinner and brought fun kid cards and little gifts, like tiny bunny erasers, hair bands, and homemade bracelets. The Misomali kids all wrapped their little gifts 7 times! I told Abi I was glad she wasn’t turning 35!

The cake somehow managed to stay in the fridge all day, much to Naomi’s surprise, and was a big hit. Abi had requested chocolate mint cake, so we had chocolate cake with green mint filling, and ganache poured in top. It was yummy! (Yep, I cheated a little on my diet and had a bite of Matt’s piece!)

We are so glad to have this sweet girl in our family. She keeps us on our toes with her encyclopedic knowledge of local wildlife and her voracious appetite for reading. More importantly, we have seen the Lord begin to work in her little heart and life, and pray that his grace and salvation would be poured out on her life. We love you, Abigail!

Up Before the Sun

I’m up dark and early these days to have a little time of peace and quiet. I love being up before the rest of the house! Well, Matt is usually up too, to run and spend time with the Lord. And all of Malawi gets up with the sun. So really, I just like being up before the girls!

A quiet house is the best place for early morning devotions. I’ve been slowly working through Disciplines of a Godly Woman for several weeks, and really enjoying it. My heart and my thinking have been challenged, especially by her chapters on prayer and contentment. I’m reading a section or two at a time and meditating on related passages of Scripture – loving this study plan!

Morning is also when I have a little time to practice piano…without commentary and questions. Those of you who play piano and have young kids will know what I’m talking about! Our friends the Lloyds are on furlough for the year, so they are letting us babysit their keyboard while they’re away. It’s been a bit of work to pick up piano, considering my last lesson was 24 years ago, but it’s coming along.

I also use this time to get ready for the day. With 2 kids homeschooling now, I plan my day carefully. Both girls have periods of the day with me, and periods of the day working on independent work. I try to get that all organized and set out before breakfast.

Those are the normal things I do in the morning hours. Today had a twist. The doorbell rang at 5:30am, and Martha’s husband let me know that she wouldn’t be at work today because she would be taking their daughter Rejoice to the hospital. The doorbell rang again at 5:50, and it was Martha asking for a ride to the hospital because Rejoice was too weak to ride on the back of a bike. So off we went to the hospital. As I was coming home at 6am, the sun was rising: an enormous bright pink ball emerging from a gray and blue haze. Stunningly beautiful.

Back to the house to exercise, shower, and get breakfast ready.

The girls both have lists posted in their room that they need to accomplish before they come out for breakfast at 7. It’s a wonderful thing to have them arrive dressed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, faces washed, and smiling! Yes, “smile and start your day!” is actually on their lists!

Family breakfast in the morning sunshine – a great way to start our day together. If you’re wondering if Matt’s just camera shy, he was out picking up Martha and Rejoice from the hospital. Rejoice had a stomach bacterial infection. She’s on antibiotics, and already doing much better by this evening. 😊

Spring is Coming!

Here in the Southern Hemisphere, we are nearing the end of winter. For us, that means no more nights with temps down to 54 degrees Fahrenheit. These days it’s already 60 degrees when we get up just before dawn. Soon we will be excited if it gets below 80 overnight. But between now and then we have a short little springtime: September. And there’s already evidence that spring is on its way… the mango trees are blooming!