Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rain Dance

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.

Looking hopefully at the clouds waiting for the rain.

Ok since it isn't raining yet I'll do my special, never-fail, raindance.

It Worked! It Worked!

Never one to be left out Alonzo grabbed his bike and enjoyed riding in the puddles.

Poor Colin was running a fever all day but he climbed out of his sick bed to come watch the rain.

A few minutes later Grayson stripped totally naked and did the "Thank you for the rain dance" to thank God for the rain. This dance apparently involves bathing in mud puddles. I am sure God was duly impressed. Grayson loudly invited me to join him in the dance just as the gardeners came around the corner of the house. "Mommy take off your clothes and dance naked with me." The gardeners disappeared very quickly. I am not sure if they needed to laugh their butts off in private or if they were worried I was going to to start stripping in the driveway. Don't worry I stayed fully clothed. Grayson is one funny kid.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Someday My Head WILL Explode

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.


Today I blew it. It is only the second time I have ever completely blown up at these guys and both times it was here in Malawi. The first was when they informed me they would not be fixing the shower until after we moved out. We had been in the house less than two weeks at that point. We will be here for three years. That story is part of a different blog post about housing, so suffice it to say I did not take that news well.

Back to today. One of the nicest features of the housing here in Malawi are the khondes. These are screened porches that function as a second living room. Since most of us don't have patio furniture as part of our HHE a wicker furniture set is part of the government issued furniture here. In theory this is nice. In practice a lot of the wicker furniture is falling apart. Ours looked like it had been chewed on by a dog at some point in the past. Every time I swept the khonde I ended up with a pile of little pieces of wicker as the furniture slowly fell apart. Today we got a brand new wicker set. YAY! So why did I end up losing my temper? Was there something wrong with the furniture? No it is fine. It looks a lot nicer than the old stuff and it doesn't appear to be shedding bits and pieces of itself every time I sit down. Instead it was a total head on collision with Malawi culture.

The furniture delivery was scheduled and I expected them to remove the old decrepit stuff, leave the new stuff, and be done with it. The man in charge of the delivery seemed a bit taken aback by this attitude. He proceeded to cram the new stuff in with the old so that the khonde is now so packed with furniture it's impossible to walk around. I was all "Wait aren't you going to remove the old furniture?" This is when things took a turn for the worse.

"Madame" He responded patiently, "When your husband gets home he can look at the furniture and decide if he likes it. Then he can call and tell us what to remove."

"No no no. I know what I want gone. This and this and this all needs to go." I pointed at the offending furniture hoping to get it out of the house before it finally decomposed into a pile of twigs.

"Madame" he repeated, "You should wait until your husband looks at the furniture. Yes I think that will be best. Good bye." Then he just left. While my head spun around like a scene from the Exorcist. I was left with a desperate need to break something and an almost instant stress headache from losing my temper.

I have calmed down a bit and although I am still pissed because the old furniture is sitting there next to the new furniture decomposing and David will have to call to tell them to come get the same stupid furniture I told them to remove earlier today. I can see how this will be funny...someday...after a significant amount of wine... in another country.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 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

Baboon Spider

This is Colin guest posting. Mom won't let me keep this as a pet.


Mom is mean! Alonzo says we should name it Arik. Alonzo found it.

Wordless Wednesday -- I am NOT a Turkey!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rain, Termites, and Stanley

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

The Novel Updated

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.


So here we are at the beginning of the last week of the month. That little icon is sitting there on my side bar taunting me. It is painfully clear that not only am I not going to make the 50,000 word mark by the end of the month, I am not even going to get close. This week is Thanksgiving and my birthday. So that's two days I can mark off as pretty much no time to write. I still haven't hired anyone to help out around the house so I am still doing all the house work and dealing with fun third world things like washing, bleaching, and triple rinsing every darn piece of fruit or veg that we eat. And there's a ginormous, freaky, horrifying spider living in my house but that is tomorrow's post. His name is Stanley, the children love him, me not so much.

Back to writing. I am giving up. Well sort of. I am not going to stop writing, I am just going to to stop worrying about making that 50,000 word mark before the end of the month. I am going to quit trying to figure out how many words I need to write each day in order to finish by the end of the month. Right now I need to write a little less than 5,000 words a day to make it by November 30th. I can totally write 5,000 words in a day IF there is no one yelling "MOM MOM MOM MOM MOM" every two seconds, IF I don't have to stop and cook dinner, IF I don't have to wash dishes and fold laundry and sweep the floor and homeschool. Basically I can write 5,000 words a day if I give up living my life. Not. Going. To. Happen.

I will let you know when I do finally make the 50,000 word mark. I am thinking it won't be until sometime after the holidays. These are Dakota's last weeks living at home EVER. It will probably be his last Thanksgiving with the family for a good number of years. I want to put my energy into spoiling him just a bit before packing him up and sending him off to boot camp. (Pardon my while I stop and cry a moment.....OK I Think I have it together again) I don't want to be worrying about writing. So I won't. I will continue updating my word counts until the end of the month when NaNoWriMo officially ends, if I can figure out a way to post word counts after that I will.

Things I have learned from NaNoWriMo (Hey Monica it's a list just for you!)
  1. I can produce writing longer than a blog post.
  2. I need to set aside a block of time each day to write, or it just won't get done.
  3. I need to get some things sorted out in my life so that I can set aside that time.
  4. 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?
  5. 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?
  6. 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.

Dear NaNoWriMo,

Look out I will be back next year and I am going to do better! I am going to finish next year. I will be writing and practicing until then. We are not done with each other.

Sincerely,
Shannon


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Travel?

This weeks FS Weekly Blog Roundup is being hosted by Sara at WIFE-MOMMY-WOMAN. The theme this week is "Thanksgiving to travel or not to travel?" Be sure to click over there on Friday and see what up in the FS blog-o-sphere.

What is your favorite holiday? Christmas? Fourth of July? Mine has always been Thanksgiving. This is largely due to my Aunt Patsy and Uncle Tommy who hosted a huge family get together at their farm every year. Since we are from southern Texas the weather was usually mild enough that the men could hang around outside talking and playing washers (sort of like horse shoes but it doesn't wreck the grass) while the women hung around the kitchen visiting and helping out with the cooking. The kids ran wild and had a blast. The adults took took turns driving the kids around on the mule (no, not an animal but a farm work vehicle) the kids would load up in the bed and someone would jump in the drivers seat and take them out in the fields for a drive. It was so much fun seeing everyone and eating all the great food.

I miss Thanksgiving with the family. We do manage to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner each year overseas. Sometimes by ourselves and sometimes with other families. I already have my turkey in the freezer ready for this year. Now I just need to figure out the rest of the meal.

I wanted to bid on Mexico City last bid cycle. My sole reason was so we could go home for Thanksgiving. Okay, Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, maybe both. It's a short flight from Mexico to South Texas. We could have been home in just a few hours. We are in Africa so obviously that didn't work out. Darn drug wars! Sigh.*

The question was posed: To travel or not to travel for Thanksgiving? I know that in the states Thanksgiving is a huge travel day but overseas the question changes. It becomes Do I send the kids to school or keep them home? You see Thanksgiving is an American holiday and the kids attend International schools. They don't get Thanksgiving Day off, it's just another day. And honestly even if I did want to travel home it would mean taking the kids out school for a week or more since it is more than a day's travel to get home from here and as they get older it gets harder to pull them out of school without them getting all behind.

The first couple of years overseas I sent the kids to school so I could cook in peace, after all unlike at Aunt Patsy's house where all I had to make was the dinner rolls and a dessert, now I have to cook the entire meal from turkey to pumpkin pie all by myself. It didn't seem like much of a celebration to have the kids go to school as usual, then have homework, before the big event. It just turned out to be a big fancy meal, not much more. The last few years I have kept the kids home. It makes the day a little harder on me but it turns it back into a family event. When my kids grow up I really want them to look back on Thanksgiving and have good memories of a very special American holiday.

*Someday we are going to be posted to someplace I can actually get home from for Thanksgiving. Any thoughts on Jamaica or maybe Costa Rica?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Flat Stanley

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.

Sincerely,
Flat Stanley

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kindle, Computer, Camera, Contraband

This weeks round up is being hosted by Jan at Ogles and Observations. Click over there on Friday to check out the happenings in the FS world. The topic is birthdays in the foreign service. I didn't intend to write anything this week since I am going slightly crazy trying to write a novel (or a novel length collection of gibberish) in one month, but then Donna wrote something and I just had to response and happily my response fits the topic, more or less, of course it is going up so late that I don't know if it will make the roundup.

So my birthday is coming up soon, right around Thanksgiving as a matter of fact. David being the sweet wonderful husband he is, ordered me a kindle because as we all know I am slightly book addicted. It never arrived. David started calling to see if he could track it down. He did. It was in a warehouse that was rapidly filling with computers, kindles, digital underwater cameras, and anything else that uses a lithium battery. Apparently there had been a plane crash somewhere and it was being blamed on lithium batteries so no more lithium batteries were being allowed in the pouch.

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.

For the rest of the story you will have to go to Donna's blog. She has written one of the funniest, posts I have ever read. Really click over to E-mail From the Embassy now.

Monday, November 8, 2010

NaNoWriMo

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.


One of my long term goals is to write a book, if it gets published so much the better, but I really love to write and want to actually produce something more than this blog. This year was supposed to be the year I was really going to try my hand at writing, I was giving myself one year to work on writing and see if it was something I could really do. This goal has been largely derailed by first firing the maid and cook, and second by deciding to homeschool Alonzo. This leaves approximately no time to myself. Poor me!

I decided that I could either keep making excuses or I could get busy and write whenever I have 5 minutes. I manage to get blog posts out more or less regularly even with the frustrations of third world internet. I should be able to do a little writing towards my goal. Enter NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month during which participants will write (or at least try to) write a 50,000 word novel in one month. OK so it is more like a novella than a full length novel but we only have November in which to pen this literary masterpiece.

So far I am pretty much sucking. I sit and stare at a blank word document and hyperventilate. I type something. I hate it. I delete it. A blank computer screen is at least as scary as a blank piece of paper. If you want to keep track of how my progress is going there is a new icon on the sidebar, it tells you my word count so far. I finally broke 1000 words today and hope to break 2ooo words before I go to bed tonight. I figure if I write between 2 and 3 thousand words a day for the rest of the month I should still be able to finish the novel by November 30th. Whether or not it makes sense is a whole different matter. The point is to simply write, to form the habit of writing, to prove to myself that I CAN do this. That's all for now I gotta go write some more.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Funny kid!

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!

I just laughed out loud. Yummy frogs. That kid cracks me up.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

UAB

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.


When we move from one post to another we get a couple of different shipments each with it's own acronym. One is our HHE or house hold effects, this is our big shipment up to 7200 pounds. We also get a UAB which is a much smaller shipment, just a hundred pounds or so per person. It goes by air and should arrive at post very quickly. I say "should" because it has arrived the same day or after our HHE at the last two posts.

Most people try to pack those things they can't live without in the UAB shipment: kitchen essentials, towels, sheets, if you have kids a few toys and things to make their new bedroom feel like their own. Just the bare minimum needed to run a household.

After the last two moves I now have a different strategy than most people for dealing with UAB. No more trying to decide what we need right away and putting that in a separate shipment. Instead I am going to go shopping in the states and then ship that to post using my UAB allowance instead of trying to stuff everything I buy into suitcases and drag it through every airport between San Antonio and where ever we are heading. I guess if I was already in DC I would take the time to separate out those things I would want right away and put together a proper UAB but going from one overseas post to another I just want to go to Target, Kohl's, Bath and Bodyworks, William Sonoma, plus a few dozen other stores and stock up on all those things I miss the most overseas.

Of course now that I have changed my strategy my UAB will probably show up ages before my HHE and I will wish I had packed the basics for running a house. I am not sure there is a right answer for what to pack in UAB. Each family seems to have a different attack plan, it all comes down to what is important to you.




Wordless Wednesday - What is it?


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween in Review 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?