Last Friday was the first day the rains appeared. No rain, not a drop since we have arrived in early August, then one day it just starts raining. Rainy season is here!
No one in the family was happier to see the rain arrive than Grayson. He doesn't remember living someplace it doesn't rain often. He was only 18 months old when we left Texas. He can remember playing in the rain in Jakarta and of course Germany's winters are long and wet. So when the clouds began to gather on Friday he was ready. As the sky darkened he ran out to the driveway to perform his own special version of a rain dance. It must have worked because it has almost rained everyday since then.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Last Friday was the first day the rains appeared. No rain, not a drop since we have arrived in early August, then one day it just starts raining. Rainy season is here!
Monday, November 29, 2010
I always try to be patient when locally hired staff that comes to our house to do repairs and maintenance. Often these guys have limited English skills or such heavy accents that I can't really understand them, but then they are hired to fix things not carry on a conversation with me. I have known FS personnel in the past that were rude, impatient, and even condescending then they wondered why they had such a hard time getting things fixed when things went wrong. DUH! I try hard not to be the ugly American when dealing with these guys, I really do.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
This week's FS Weekly Roundup is being hosted by Melissa over at Just Us. The theme is "I'm Thankful I Have Learned..." Be sure to click over on Friday to check it out.
I am sure there are a ton of things I have learned that I am thankful for. Today what comes to mind is cooking. I am so glad my mom insisted that I learn to cook, and even how to can jellies, fruits, and vegetables. Thanks Mom! It is a skill that comes in very handy when you are living a long way from the nearest Taco Cabana or Olive Garden.
And on that note another turkey dinner has been served. Everything came out pretty well, although the turkey was sort of icky, like maybe it had been in that freezer case for a long long time before I bought it. I think next year we will just have chicken.
I am so entirely grateful for the internet. Not only does it bring me great friends all over the world, some of whom I may actually meet in person someday, it lets me find recipes to replace all the ones in my cookbooks which disappeared three moves ago. I have no idea what I would have done if this had been twenty years ago. Can you imagine living this crazy life with out all the wonders of the internet?
This Thanksgiving is a bittersweet one. It is Dakota's last Thanksgiving at home, and probably his last one with us for a good number of years. He is joining the military and leaves for Navy boot camp in just days. He will be heading off to his own adventures, while we will continue to be world wide available.
I think the military is a wonderful opportunity. He will be assured of a steady job, a paycheck, food to eat, and place to live for the next six years. He will get training and experience. He will have time to grow, explore, and decide what he wants to do long term. Even better he will have the Post 9/11 GI Bill to pay for college when he is done. This will open up the world to him.
I am thankful he got into the program he wanted. The nuclear training program is highly competitive, and offers the chance to go from enlisted to officer. It also came with a substantial signing bonus as well as rank. He will become an E3 upon completion of boot camp and an E5 upon completion of nuclear training school, after which he will serve on a submarine. I am beyond thankful that he chose to go Navy subs rather than Marine or Army infantry. No one has been shot on a submarine for a long time. Yes I realize that is a selfish attitude with so many of our service men and women in harm's way, but I am his Mom and it is an honest emotion. I am sure I will worry about him no matter what he does.
I am thankful I made it through dinner today without bursting into tears at the table. I was fine until we were done eating and it was time to clear. Then while carrying dirty dishes I suddenly burst into tears. It came out of nowhere. I had no idea it was coming, it wasn't like I was fighting tears or anything. I've had a really good day cooking and making everything just perfect, then suddenly I'm crying. Can you imagine what a basket case I am going to be in a few weeks when he gets on plane to leave for good?
Now we are watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and eating chocolate and pumpkin pies. Of course dessert is my favorite part of Thanksgiving Day. On what other day is it OK to eat more than one dessert? What a great way to end the day. I hope everyone out there is having a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
So rainy season arrived this week. Friday we had the first rain shower. Over the weekend we had some light showers, but today we had a real thunderstorm. I found out water comes right in the house under the kitchen door. I will put in a repair request for that tomorrow. I also found out that I have to clean the khondis (screened porches) out because every thing out there is drenched.
Tonight, just hours after the first big thunderstorm, the first swarm of termites arrived.
The boys ran outside to watch the bugs being eaten by frogs and lizards. They were really hoping to see their first baboon spider, but no such luck. Darn it! They will have to be happy with Stanley.
This is Stanley. He is a camel spider.* He lives in my living room. Oh the joy.
Stanley enjoyed the termites too. While Dakota hand fed the frogs, Colin ran around scooping up termites to feed to Stanley. I couldn't look away from Stanley munching down on the termites. It was sort of like a train wreck, horrifying and fascinating all at once.
I thought all spiders sucked the juices out their victims. Stanley just ripped them apart and chewed them up until all that was left was a pile of wings.
*Urban legends aside, Stanley is mostly harmless. He doesn't even have venom. He does have those big chelicera that he can use to pinch hard enough to draw blood. I am determined that Stanley and I will NEVER EVER touch each other. The thought makes my skin crawl. UGH!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
So a few weeks ago I announced I was going to write a novel and I was going to do it in a month because clearly I am completely nuts. I signed up for NaNoWriMo because there are other crazy people out there and us crazy people need to stick together. And just to make it fun I also fired my household staff and decided to pull one of my kids out of school and homeschool because simply writing a novel in a month is just too easy for me.
- I can produce writing longer than a blog post.
- I need to set aside a block of time each day to write, or it just won't get done.
- I need to get some things sorted out in my life so that I can set aside that time.
- I need to figure out a way to keep track of my characters, relationships, subplots ect... I hate outlining (7th grade flash backs UGH) but I need to get organized somehow. Ideas?
- I now get it when writers talk about discovering their characters as they go. Several times my main character has done things that I didn't see coming right up until I typed it. It surprised me and made me think "Huh! Didn't see that coming." How cool is that?
- Most importantly I really really like writing. I like it at least as much as reading and chocolate. Anyone who knows me knows that is a major kind of liking. If someone had told me back in junior high (or high school or college) that I would one day like writing I would have laughed myself silly.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
We had our first visitor this weekend. Stanley came all the way from my nephew Julian's elementary school in Leander, Texas to visit Africa. Some of you may be acquainted with Stanley. His full name is Flat Stanley. He is quite the traveler. Too bad he missed our trip to Zambia last month so he didn't get to see any elephants or giraffes this trip. Just like in America the big animals usually only live in special parks. The rest of this post is a message to the kids back in Texas from their friend Stanley.
Dear Julian and all the kids in Mrs. Moseley's class,
I had fun visiting your Uncle David and his family in Lilongwe, Malawi. Malawi is a small country in the southeast part of Africa. Lilongwe is the capital city. Since Lilongwe is south of the equator it was summer when I visited even though it is November. It was hot, but not as hot as Texas in July. Lilongwe is about 14,700 miles away from Leander. Wow! That is a long way. I hope I can make it back to Leander before Christmas.
Check out the market where they buy all their fruits and vegetables each week. Unlike the grocery stores back home this market is outdoors. There are a lot of different people selling all kinds of fruits and vegetables. It is noisy and dusty. There are no signs telling you how much anything costs, instead you ask the seller how much something costs then you have to bargain to get a good price. Here I am with the man they bought some apples from this week.
Here is Julian's Uncle David picking out some carrots at the market.
Another view of the market. On the right side you can see potatoes and onions piled up waiting for someone to buy them. The stall where we bought the apples is in the middle of the picture.
A river runs right through the middle of the market. Julian's Aunt Shannon and I are standing in front the bridge that connects one side to the other. You have to pay 20 kwacha to to cross the bridge. That's about 13 cents in American money.
I was also able to visit the Kumbali Cultural Center to learn about Malawian culture. To get there we had to drive a long way down dirt roads. Here I am with Mr. David's car. It is a special type of car called a four wheel drive. They need it because in a lot of places the roads are made out of dirt and are very bumpy. If you look very carefully you will notice the steering wheel is on the wrong side. That's because in Malawi people drive on the left side of the road.
Just driving to the Kumbali Center was pretty cool. I saw these women carrying baskets full of stuff on their heads. Look at how they are dressed. Most women here wear long colorful skirts.
Then a little farther down the road I saw this boy driving a donkey cart all by himself.
Julian's cousin Colin and I are at the entrance to Kumbali Cultural Center. This round building is a traditional Malawi house. It is made out of mud and the roof is made out of grasses. I saw whole villages of houses like these.
At the Kumbali cultural center I saw some of the crafts made by people in Malawi. There were toys like this wire man. When you push him his legs go up and down like he is walking. Boys make these toys our of sticks and scraps of wire.
Malawi is known for beautiful woodcarvings like this hippo I am sitting on below.
Pottery is another thing made in Malawi. Here one of the men at the Kumbali Center is showing Alonzo how to make a pot out of clay.
When the pot is all finished and has had a chance to dry then it will be put in a big oven called a kiln, where it will bake until it is waterproof. The little boy holding me is Grayson.
Alonzo watching a man make a wicker chair. Sometimes you will see men selling these chairs by the side of the road.
I enjoyed my visit to Malawi. It is very different from Texas, but very interesting to visit.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I posted a comment about my sad situation on facebook
Just found out that David was getting me a kindle for my birthday! Yay! Also just found out that the pouch refuses to deliver to deliver it and it is getting returned. Boo!
I got lots of comments including this one from Donna at Email From the Embassy.
Do you have a DPO? I just ordered a new computer; can't remember whether it was thru pouch or DPO. It hasn't arrived yet - now you have me worried.
Uh Oh! A bit later she posted more comments.
Ay yai yai. I guess I'd better check. I know people who've ordered computers, ipods and kindles without a problem, so it never occured to me to worry.
We have pouch and DPO. I just went to the mailroom and inquired, and they said there are no rules for either system prohibiting computers, etc. So these rules must be brand-spankin' new if they haven't heard of them yet. Hopefully my computer is really on its way here. What a hassle. Oh, and p.s. my husband's new-since-June Kindle just broke.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
No I am not spouting gibberish! At least not here on the blog, I don't think I am anyway. I think many bloggers have heard of NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month, during which you are supposed to post a blog post every single day for the entire month of November. I not that motivated to post a blog post everyday. Sometimes I have something to say and sometimes I don't, consequently I don't even attempt NaBloPoMo. My goal of at least two posts a week seems to be doable for me.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Tonight David and I were playing Uno with the boys, all except Colin who choose to sit and look at a wildlife book. We jokingly call it "The Great Big Book of Everything" if you have kids and ever watched the show Stanley you understand a bit about this book. Each page folds out to reveal facts about a particular animal. He was talking out loud to himself as he flipped through the book. Our sound track while we were playing went something like this:
Vervet monkeys live in Africa but it doesn't say they are annoying thieves.Bird of paradise lives in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Hey I didn't see any of those in Jakarta.Arctic Foxes are cool they are different colors in summer and winter.North American Bull Frog ......mmmmm.....Yummy!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
This week's FS weekly roundup is being hosted by Run 2 New Places, they are new to the FS and getting ready to head out to their first post in London. Lucky dogs! Be sure to click over there on Friday and check it out. This weeks topic is UAB, that's unaccompanied air baggage to those not in the foreign service. The foreign service has an acronym for everything, it's a total alphabet soup.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Usually I am Miss Halloween. I decorate inside and out, we start watching the Halloween movies in September so that we will have time to watch them all before the big day. Back when we had a house in the states there were spiderwebs, black lights, ghosts, scarecrows, luminarias, a jack-o-lantern for each of us and a few extras just because I could. This year though Halloween just sort of snuck up on me. I don't know what happened. Pitiful really.
Somehow I didn't really realize it was almost Halloween until Friday the day of the embassy Halloween party. The boys (with a little pressure from Dad) agreed to wear costumes from years past so once again we had a pair of grim reapers, same as last year. Dakota was either a construction worker or one of the guys from the Village People you choose.
Nobody knows quite what Grayson was but he raided the dress up box and came out wearing a Safari hat from a friend's long ago birthday party party, Colin's old Venom costume from 3 years ago, and a bumble bee vest from Halloween 2004, he seemed pleased with his costume so I guess that's all that matters.
As for Dave and I we also raided the kid's dress up box and came out with two gorilla masks. We apparently have been watching way too much Dancing With the Stars becuase we thought we were being clever by dressing as Bristol Palin and her dance partner Mark Ballas a couple weeks ago when they did the jive to "Hey Hey We're the Monkees" while wearing gorilla suits.
One problem I am now pretty sure we are the only people in Malawi that actually watch Dancing With the Stars. By the end on the night I was getting tired of explaining out costumes. If you have to explain your costume it's a fail.
Our costumes may have been a fail but the embassy party was a success. There were games, costume contests, food and of course trick-or-treating. The kids came home with a bag of candy and big smiles.
Saturday was the International Women's Association of Malawi Bazaar which in no way had anything to do with Halloween but was a lot of fun. We gave each of the kids some money and let them shop around for some treasures. Alonzo came back with a huge plant with a flower taller than himself, Colin came back with a carved wooden letter opener shaped like a dagger and a couple of wooden elephants, and Grayson and Dakota came back with a pile of rocks and crystals from the gemology booth. David and I just bought some food and drinks.
Sunday, that would be Halloween Day, the only thing we did to celebrate was to make homemade caramel apples and watched Halloweentown. Somehow that was on the only Halloween movie we watched this year, we didn't even watch the Great Pumpkin. Next year I will get my act together and carve some jack-o-lanterns, put up some decorations, order costumes and candy and watch all the movies. Next up Thanksgiving. I better get my act together, I wonder if you can buy a turkey in Malawi?