Wednesday, April 27, 2011
As I walk by the maid she is wiping down the bookshelves and my husbands books, many of which are over 50 years old with what appears to be a wet cloth.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Why do schools now seem to feel it is necessary to assign homework over long holidays? Is this a thing in the states too, or just overseas? I don't remember ever having homework over Spring Break or Christmas Holidays, not once, not ever. As an adult I would work overtime before vacation to make sure I didn't have to work while on vacation. I would strangle David if he brought work with him in vacation. So why should our kid's vacations be ruined by homework? What kind of lesson is it supposed to teach? That it is bad to take time off to relax? I know darned well those teachers aren't carting papers to grade when they go on safari, so why do they expect the kids to do it?
Today is the last day of Spring Break*. I am sitting here forcing the boy in Year Four (3rd grade) to read Charlotte's Web. The whole book, in one day. He dutifully carried the book with him to Zambia but instead of curling up and reading, he chased lizards, befriended donkeys, swam, went on Safari, got drenched at Victoria Falls, sat around campfires and generally enjoyed himself. He didn't get around to even starting Charlotte's Web.
While the older boy is sulking, but at least holding the book, even if he isn't reading it, I am in the kitchen with the boy in Year One (kindergarten). He is filling out his "My Animal Spotting Book." Said book didn't make the trip with us because mom was more worried about making sure we had swim suits, bug spray, sunscreen, malaria meds, and food. I wasn't even remotely thinking about homework over the holidays. So we are getting it all done today. Each page has a space for an animal's name, where it was spotted, and then it is to be classified as wild or domestic, herbivore carnivore or omnivore, and finally fur feathers skin or scales. I can't tell you how much fun it is get a 6 year old to write "I saw a BABOON at VICTORIA FALLS, it is an OMNIVORE, it is WILD and it has FUR," when all he wants to do is go swimming. Then we get to to do this for 4 more animals. He is supposed to draw a picture for each one too, but I am just printing the pictures and he can cut and glue, or we would be here all day.
The homeschool boy is running around outside because I didn't realize I was supposed to assign homework. Bad Mommy! Whatever was I thinking? No school work over vacation? The very idea of actually having time off! Sheez!
Dave had to run into town for a few things. As soon as he gets back we are going to head to the Tamarind Club and go swimming. Homework be damned. Whatever isn't done will just have to wait. The sun is shining, it is still spring break and we are going to enjoy it. It is already fall and I have been told that by mid-May it will be too cold to swim so we are going to enjoy these last days of summer.
*It is probably called Easter Break or something, since it is in fact the very end of summer here not spring, and the days are already starting to turn cooler. Yes the kids go to school all summer then get a month off during winter, which be summer if we were north of the equator, but since we are south of the equator it is winter and will be too clod to swim when they are off from school. Confused?
Friday, April 22, 2011
We made it home from our trip to Zambia and Botswana. A fabulous time was had by all. New animals spotted: jackal, wildebeest, roan antelope, hartebeest, pied kingfisher, bateleur, marabou stork, ground hornbill, puku, and a few others I am too tired to think of. Still no rhinocerors, sable antelope, or wild dog. Maybe next time. I will start sorting pictures and getting some real blog posts up sometime this weekend. G'nite!
Thursday, April 14, 2011
We are heading out this weekend to Zambia and Botswana to see the famous Victoria Falls and go on Safari in Chobe National Park. The kids are excited. David is excited. I am sick. I caught the boys cold they have been passing around for the last few weeks. Darn germ factories! Hopefully it won't be too bad. I am taking it easy today, drinking plenty of warm tea and trying to think healthy thoughts.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Daniela at Tuk & Tam is hosting the FS Weekly Blog Roundup. The optional talking point (OPT) is "The Best Of... insert country here." I am opting out of the OPT this week. Hey, it IS optional.
I’ve already ranted about the shortfalls of Malawi, although I think it is more a case of false advertising rather than actual shortfalls. Still I have already had my say, and I don't think I need to rehash it again. So far the best of Malawi has been the trip to Zambia last October, and well, Zambia is a different country, so that isn't exactly the best of Malawi.
Instead I am going to focus on house staff. If you are a long time reader you already know that I hired house staff before we arrived, based only on a recommendation from the people who had this house before us, no interview. It was a disaster. One I won't be repeating. While I appreciate that for some people having staff all lined up and ready to work from the day you hit the ground is a necessity, especially if you are a single parent or a tandem with kids, in the future I will be taking some time to settle in before hiring staff.
I have been without house staff since early October. Mostly I have enjoyed having the house to myself. An acquaintance here asked rather incredulously if I enjoyed cleaning toilets all day. Well no, but then again it only takes a few minutes to clean toilets, so it's not that big of a hardship. Plus the kids are old enough to help out around the house, and I think that having chores is a very important part of growing up.
I’m a bit of a homebody. I enjoy the process of making a house a home. I like cooking, dusting, and the satisfaction of a clean, attractive room. Ok, so I don't really enjoy laundry, but at least I have a washing machine to make it easier. I'm not sitting on the banks of a creek scrubbing my clothes like most women in Malawi, and I do love the smell when the dryer is running. Unlike a lot of (fully justified) trailing spouses you won't hear me complaining about not being able to find work at post. I was born in the wrong decade; I actually like being a domestic goddess. Sick isn't it? My mom is probably rolling her eyes right now trying to figure out where she went wrong.
As of this week we once again have house staff in the form of one maid/nanny. She's a hard worker, the house sparkles, she keeps the kids from fighting while I cook dinner, she speaks English, and she even bathes Grayson before she leaves. She’s a real gem. She’s driving me absolutely bonkers!
I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that I would be best off without full time help. I think in my ideal world I would have someone come in once or twice a week to do toilets, mop, vacuum, clean the windows, and do the ironing. That someone would call my by my given name, make eye contact, laugh when I tell a joke, and never never never flinch when I walk into a room. Then the rest of the time I could have my shiny clean house to myself.
So why did we hire a maid? Well there’s no such thing as a babysitter around here. David and I have not been out to dinner once since Dakota left for boot camp last December. In order to have a night out a few times a month we had to hire a full time employee. Talk about your overkill. The kids are all school age, so having a nanny seems a little silly. To justify hiring her we have her do housework in the morning and in the afternoon she mostly watches Grayson play with her daughters. I have to admit this plan beats having to run out and break up 10 fights between the boys while I try to cook dinner each night.
You know not so long ago I was a stay at home mom in the states, trying hard to keep my sanity with two kids in diapers, one half potty trained kiddo, and a preteen with attitude issues. I would have given my eyeteeth to have even a part time helper. A full time, live-in maid was the stuff of movies and dreams. David was working 2 jobs and going to school part time, so I was on my own most of the time. I don't know how we did it, but we did.
This is probably a case of be careful what you wish for. I was really looking forward to having help again. It is only now that I appreciate just exactly how lucky we were in Jakarta. Our pebantu and driver there were totally wonderful and we still keep in touch with both of them. It’s clear I will not have the same kind of relation with our current employee, but I do think we are going to be able to make it work. Now if I could just convince her to call me anything but “Madame.”