Friday, May 28, 2010

I am at the dentist! HELP!

I have a toothache so I am going to the dentist this morning. I hate dentists. No offense to any dentists who might be reading this, it's nothing personal. I really don't want to think about what he is going to do to my tooth. All those shots and drilling and x-rays. Ugh! So instead I present this totally cute picture of David helping the boys with a craft project. I will be back when I have recovered from the trauma of it all.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


An after note before you read this posting. When I wrote this posting I had in mind the pictures I wanted to use. After going through all the pictures it came out to 32 with a size of about 82 MB. So needless to say I did not use all the pictures I wanted to. I will put a link at the end of the post to the location of all the pictures I wanted to use.

This weekend Alonzo, Colin and I went on a camping trip with the Cub Scouts. This is the first camping trip the boys will remember. The last time we went camping they were both really small and we stayed at Guadalupe River State Park in Texas. This camping trip was full of fun and exciting things and we had one heck of a time.

We arrived at the campsite at 0930 and had our ten man tent up buy 1100. Yes, I said ten man tent. I know what you are thinking, why such a large tent for only three people? Well, we are a family of six and had big visions of doing a lot of camping when we came to Germany. Well that never happened as it was harder to figure out than we anticipated. In fact this was the first time the tent has been set up since we arrived in Germany. How odd, we use it for the first time just weeks before it gets packed up for Malawi. Too funny.

After everything was all set up, it was time to divide the scouts into two groups. One group would go hiking and the other would go fishing. We were in the group that went hiking first. The hike lasted about 2.5 hours and was about 4 kilometers. On the hike we took time to teach the boys a little bit about reading maps, orienteering, and leave no trace behind. The boys had to identify five different types of trees and birds. The tree part was easy. The bird part was much harder. Finding the birds was a very difficult task. We could hear them all over the place but could not seem to see them.

One of the highlights was the lizard that we found sunbathing on a log. Colin being the boy that he is could not pass up the opportunity to try and catch the little guy. The Corwin’s would be so proud. He snuck up on the lizard and bam!!! There he was in Colin’s hand. We took a moment to let the scouts touch him and look at him closely before we returned him to his sunbathing.

The other highlight of our hike was the bikes we saw when we stopped for lunch. There had to have been at least 30 trikes that passed close buy us.

Once we arrived at the fishing hole, the scout learned the rules of fishing and to bait a hook to catch a fish. Alonzo and Colin both caught one trout each. They were so excited. Even more exciting was the cleaning of the fish. I did not think either of the boys would want to clean the fish but they both proved me wrong and stepped right up to clean their fish.

The fish were cooked with a few other items to create our dinner for the evening. While the adults were preparing dinner the scouts were out learning the rules of kick ball. They had a blast. They really worked up an appetite. Although Alonzo does not like to eat fish he was compelled to taste it, seeing that he killed it.

In the evening we had our bonfire and enjoyed roasting marshmallows and making s’mores.

In the morning we gathered around the fire and ate our breakfast.

After we completed our breakfast we headed over to the launch pad to teach the boys how to make matchstick rockets. Alonzo, with the help of the scout leader, was able to get his rocket to shoot about 8 feet. Incase you don’t know what a matchstick rocket is; let me take a moment to tell you. You take a matchstick and wrap it in foil, making sure the tip is completely covered. You place it on a bent paperclip at a 45 degree angle. Take another match, light it and hold it under the tip of the rocket. It you have wrapped it correctly, then the head of the rock will ignite and the rock will launch. The better the rocket is wrapped the father it will launch. I was able to get mine to go about 12 feet.

The boys and I had a blast on our camping trip. Alonzo and Colin both earned the following belt loops: kickball, fishing, and hiking.

Click here to see all the picture I wanted to use.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's a Monday

Well no, it's a Tuesday, but Monday was a German holiday so Dave and the three younger boys had the day off. We went bowling then played outside the rest of the afternoon. A week ago it was 52 and raining. Since Friday it has been in the mid 70's and sunny. What a wonderful change! I worked out perfectly because this weekend was the Cub Scout camp out, but that is David's story to tell.

Today I am back to cleaning. I am TIRED of cleaning, so very very tired! To keep me moving I am setting the timer for 30 minutes during which I work like a dog, then the pay off I get to take a 1o minute feet up break. I am almost done with the dining room and it isn't even noon yet. Whoops there is the timer. Back to work for me!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Food Dreams

I am very chatty lately, probably because when I am blogging I am not cleaning something to get ready for pack out. Avoidance by blogging it is bound to be better for me than drowning my woes in chocolate or beer. Certainly it keeps my clothes fitting better.

Speaking of food, is anyone else out there who's getting for homeleave or R&R starting to fantasize about food? I actually have a list of places I MUST eat at while we are home. No really I do. It is taped up in the kitchen. Tios for breakfast tacos (Paul my order is 1 barbacoa, 1 chorizo con papas, and one carne guisada- Don't let me down I want those for breakfast my first morning in Texas!), donuts and kolaches from Shipley's on Bandera, a Route 44 strawberry limeade from Sonic, BBQ from Rudy's Country Store, Mexonesia shrimp flautas and tres leche cake from Hula Hut in Austin, and of course girls night out at the Melting Pot. Last night I dreamed about chimchangas. I woke up wondering if I should get my chimichanga fix from Papasitos or Alamo Cafe. I want chili rellanos too, any recommendations on the best chile rellanos in San Antonio? Pathetic isn't it?

The one thing I can't find in San Antonio is really good Chinese food. Not just any Chinese food but Xaio Long Bao (soup dumplings) from Din tai Fung. And here we pause for a special shout out to Global Jacob who started me off on this particular food craving. Thanks dude, I can't stop thinking about those little packages of soupy yummy goodness. He wrote an amazing post which petty much explains why Taiwan is one of my dream posts, just for the food.

In Jakarta there was a Din Tai Fung within walking distance of the house, it was actually quicker to walk than to drive thanks to Jakarta traffic, so walk we did. It was a rare week that David and I didn't indulge in at least one meal there and of course every meal featured Xaio Long Bao. There is only one Din Tai Fung in the entire United States and it is in Los Angeles, that is so not in walking distance from our house (OK fine, my brother-in-law's house) in San Antonio. We will hit DC for a week before heading out, so is there any place in DC where we can get some decent Xaio Long Bao? Anyone? Please? Hook a girl up!

Oh and if there is, would anyone out here be brave enough to babysit my heathens, I mean my three darling children?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

He's Off

David took Grayson's training wheels off of his little bike Friday. Doing the dad thing David started pushing but Grayson yelled, "Let GO Dad" and off he rode. Just like that. He was gone.

I took this video today. We spent hours riding around and around the Seidlung, or rather he rode and I walked or jogged along behind. He seems to be developing a real need for speed. He spent the afternoon trying to figure out how to make skid marks, I am sure his brothers will fill him in when they get home from camping.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My little foodie

I mentioned the other day that I love food and I love cooking. For the most part my family doesn't really appreciate this. My husband and 3 of the kids are picky eaters. I announce that I am going to make curried lentil soup someone gags, I offer up poblano and mushroom tacos and apparently I am trying to kill them. Terribly picky eaters. David will at least try anything I cook. He has come a long way since we got married. The three kids though complain no matter what is served.

My saving grace is Colin. He loves food even more than I do. He even loves the things I don't. He will eat anything except feta cheese. Seriously. Here are just some of the things he likes: Frog legs, fish head curry, sushi, edamame (to be fair all the kids like this), creme brulee, gnocchi (he is the only one of the kids that doesn't call it knee-yucky), eggplant, mushrooms, sardines, even DURIAN and no he isn't allowed to kiss mom after the durian unless he wants me to throw up on him. I am convinced he will grow up to be a famous chef like Anthony Bourdain. He already has the attitude for it.

On the rare occasions I can find a cooking show on TV he will curl up with me and watch it. There aren't very many cooking shows here though. In Jakarta we used to get bunches of them, mostly they were travel food type shows. Colin's favorites were No Reservations with Bourdain, World Cafe Asia with Bobby Chinn, and of course his absolute favorite Bizarre Foods with Anthony Zimmerman. That last being the food show most likely to make mom toss her cookies.

I thought Colin had pretty much forgotten about food shows until I overheard this comment in the car yesterday:

"The key to get the most flavor out of it is to suck on it, not chew it."

That was such a foodie kind of comment you might have thought he was talking about some strange new dish, or a rare tropical fruit. So what was he discussing so seriously? Nerds, as in the candy.

How cute is that? He loves food but obviously isn't a food snob. I had to fight to keep from giggling out loud, he is such a doll sometimes.

Can Cats Go Senile?

I think my cat is a little senile. Is that even possible? Can cats go senile?

Today was grocery day. Unloading the groceries here is a major production. First I try to find a parking spot as close to my building as possible. Today I can actually see my van from the house so not bad, only 1 building away, or half a block, you chose. Then I unload all the groceries onto the sidewalk. Next I make trip after trip to our building and dump everything at the foot of the stairs until everything is inside the building. Now comes the the fun part, lugging load after load up 3 1/2 flights of stairs to our apartment. I know it has been said, but if you are a big family thinking about coming to Frankfurt please know you WILL be on the 3rd and 4th floors of a building with no elevators.

So what does this have to do with senile cats? I leave my apartment door open while hauling everything upstairs so I don't have to fumble with the keys every single trip. It usually takes 6-8 trips up the stairs to get everything into the house. Today the cat followed me downstairs when I headed down for the second load. Then on the third trip up I found him staring at one of the downstairs neighbor's doors while meowing loudly. So I dropped off the third load and made a trip just to retrieve the cat and deposit him on the sofa before heading back down for the fourth load. On the way back up I found him in front of another neighbors house meowing pitifully. I dropped off the groceries make another trip just to retrieve the cat and deposit him FIRMLY on the sofa. On the way back up with the fifth I passed the stupid cat again and decided to ignore him and hope I wasn't not irritating the neighbors too much.

Finally all eight loads safely inside I made one more trip to retrieve the cat but couldn't find him. I walked through the basement corridor, no cat. Opened door and peeked outside just incase someone went out and he slipped out with him, no cat. Thought about knocking on the neighbors doors and asking if they let him in when I heard a confused sounding meow coming from somewhere overhead. He had walked all the way back upstairs, past our open apartment door to the very top floor and was meowing at the attic door.

I have no idea if the cat is senile or just trying to find a house without kids. Grayson likes to carry him around like a stuffed animal, and the stupid thing lets him. He never bites the kids but let him see me with a kitty comb and there is going to be blood shed, mine!

I made an extra 3 trips up and down the stairs thanks to Fluffy, who is now asleep and snoring on the love seat, right where I was planning to sit down and read my new book. He is going to have to move! I am going to read until it is time to pick up the kids, right after I put all the groceries away that is.

WHAT??? It is only ONE book. Believe me I was good! Really I was. It is a paperback too so it doesn't weigh much. I put the other six books back. I was good!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day Off

I am taking the day off from preparing the house for packout. I am tired, and a bit depressed. It is no secret that Germany has not been my dream post, sorry Germany you are lovely but not for me, and I am ready to leave. BUT I hate change. I find it stressful. I hate it almost as much as I hate flying. This summer promises a lot of both. Months of living out of a suitcase. Months before we are settled into our new house in a new country. Months before we even see the house that will be ours. Months before the new house will feel like home. *SIGH*

Today I am just going to enjoy today, for tomorrow I shall clean. Today I am going to do the laundry because I am out of clean clothes, but that is the ONLY useful thing I am going to do. Today I am going to indulge my passion for food and not think about diets. Today I am going to cook because I enjoy it and because I love my pots and pans. Today I am going to read because I have already dealt with the bookshelves so I can enjoy my books without guilt. Today is going to be a day for me because I am worth it.

Menu for dinner:
Ricotta Gnocchi with Light Tomato Sauce
Romaine Salad
Home made bread with real butter
Creme Brulee

Now I am going to go make myself a cup of cappuccino and start cooking.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

(Not so) Wordless Wednesday--After

The laundry area is finally clean. It is a laundry area not a laundry room. Not so long ago there was one room with all the washers and dryers for the whole building down in the basement and you would have to drag all your laundry down to the basement to wash it. Did I mention that all large family housing is on the 3rd and 4th floors a LONG way from the basement? So the powers that be came in ripped out the cabinets at one end of the kitchen and made a laundry area. I can say that I prefer my laundry room hidden away somewhere not in my kitchen, but it is better than having to drag umpteen loads of laundry down four flights of stairs everyday.

OK back on topic, and sorry about going off on a tangent there. This was the kind of cleaning I hate most. Fussy cleaning. Not much to throw away cleaning. Yes the piles on the floor were thrown but they were from the book clean out yesterday. They don't count. The teenager was SUPPOSED to take them out last night when he (sort of) cleaned the kitchen. I thought about dumping the cat's litter box in his bed, but decided I better not. I would just end up washing the sheets.

There wasn't much to throw out because this is the place that everything gets dumped. Find a monopoly piece? Throw in the laundry area. Lost a button on your shirt? Toss it on the dryer. Bought some stuff that needs to go to Malawi? Shove it on the little shelf. The laundry area functions as a catch all. There are several areas where junk collects, but this is by far the worst. Mostly because it is so easy to ignore and it just keeps piling up.

I found:
  • A pile of pencils, pens and markers that needed to go to the art room.
  • Two glue sticks a bottle of glue and a pair of scissors-art room
  • Some construction paper-art room
  • Some Easter art construction sets left over from an event at the fieldhouse Easter week- probably should have gone to the art room but by now I was fed up with the art room. Threw it away. YAY.
  • Lots of soda bottles. A coke costs about 130 euro and about 25 cents of that is the bottle return fee. I probably have 3 euro worth of empty bottles, but the cub scouts are collecting them as a fund raiser so will pass them onto the boys to take to Rewe and get some money.
  • A huge pile of egg cartons. Not sure what the story is there so I moved them to the art room until I can get clarification.
  • A thimble, assorted buttons, patches for blue jeans and some thread. Packed that all away in the sewing box and button box. Mom I have Dave's grandmothers button box, it is almost as cool as your mother's, almost, but not quite.
  • Lots of kitchen towels. Sorted those by still nice and frayed and stained. Put the still nice ones aside to ship and will use the beat up ones from now until July 2 when we are wheels up, then will toss them on the way out.
  • Assorted screws, nuts, super glue, nails, picture hangers, sand paper, paintbrushes, ect. Tossed those in Dave's green basket that functions as his tool box.
  • Two game pieces from monopoly, 7 marbles, two game pieces from trouble and a jenga block. Actually located the games and put them up like should have been done in the first place.
  • 13 dead batteries waiting to be taken to the recycling bin which is nowhere near our house.
  • 2 beer bottles and a jelly jar waiting to be taken to the glass recycling bins also nowhere near our house but also nowhere near the battery recycling bin either.
  • A brown plastic flower pot half full of trash and dirt. It is ugly I didn't buy it and don't know where it came from. Tossed it.

I am sure there was other stuff, but I am blocking it at this point. I am done! I am going to eat some lunch before I take Alonzo's piano music up to the school. About 10 o'clock this morning I noticed it still sitting on the piano, DRAT. Then I am going to come home and drag all the books up to the book swap, buy a Big Red and relax while I watch my books go bye bye. Sweet!

Wordless Wednesday--Before

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Response to Advice From Mom

I received a new message from Mom today:

I checked the blog and was flattered that you thought my note was good enough to post. However you left off the last and most important sentence....Ok, now get serious and sort out what you don't absolutely need to survive. I know you don't want me to come over there and clean your room! You know I clean rooms with a trash bag! By the way, I recall that your boys (and probably you too) brought home some rocks from your recent holiday. Rocks are heavy. Get rid of them!

So sorry I lost the last line, it wasn't intentional, I promise! So lets look at the new message shall we? Lets start with this line:

"I know you don't want me to come clean your room!"

Well yes, actually, I do. Would you please? How soon can you get to the airport? I will have a ticket waiting. And while you are cleaning could you please clean the boys rooms and maybe the living room, oh and the dining room too? I will clean the kitchen, I like my pots scratches dents and all.

Then there is this:

"You know I clean rooms with a trash bag."

Good I will buy the bags! Is there a particular size or brand you prefer? Will Hefty do? I think they carry that brand at the base.

And finally there was this:

"By the way, I recall that your boys (and probably you too) brought home some rocks from your recent holiday. Rocks are heavy. Get rid of them!"

Maybe you shouldn't have let me take that geology course way back when 'cause I like rocks. We are are going to allow the boys to keep a few fossils each, with a weight limit of a couple of pounds per kid, then the rest gotta go. Some one is going to be very puzzled some day to find iron pyrite and ammonites in Frankfurt.

Update on cleaning: I know most people could care less how much junk I managed to get rid of today, but it makes me feel like I have accomplished something to put the numbers out there.

Today was books. First let me say, "My name is Shannon and I am a book-aholic" and before you fire off a new e-mail Mom the only person I know with more books than me, is you. Apparently this is a hereditary condition.

So anyway books, two large standard FS issue bookshelves full to the top, two folding bookshelves from Target, and two smaller bookshelves, plus two small closets holding the over flow from the bookshelves. We got books people! Five of the six of us are confirmed book-a-holics. Dakota cleaned his shelves not long ago and I was impressed how many books he got rid of, until today that is. I found all the books that used to be in his room in the boys rooms and on my bookshelves. They weren't gone, just relocated. Brat! I went through every book in the house one at a time. It took hours, hours and hours and lots of chocolate and cappuccino.

I found three lost library books from school, a couple of duplicate books, a book I borrowed from a friend and never gave back, a bunch of board books for toddlers, piles of magazines and a handful of books that I have no interest in reading again, ever. There were also more than a few books that were beyond being taped back together so these were condemned to the recycle bin along with piles of papers from school, out dated catalogs, odd pieces of crushed oragami, and German junk mail.

Totals from today:
Books to be returned, donated, or dumped at the books swap: 86 pounds!
Magazines to be dumped at the field house so someone else can enjoy them: 55 pounds!
Books, papers and assorted junk tossed in recycle bin: 44 pounds!
For a grand total of (drum roll please) 185 pounds WooHoo!

Here are the books and magazines we are getting rid of minus the ones I tossed in the recycle bin. Even I don't generally take pictures of trash.

In case you are wondering we still have plenty of books left.

more books
and even MORE books

And No Dave that doesn't mean I am going to quit ordering from Amazon. In fact if you look carefully the paperbacks are piled up by author so now I know which books I am missing from which series, I am already working on my shopping list for when I visit Barnes and Noble or Borders or Half Price Books this summer. Those ORs should probably be ANDs because I am so totally going to all three. Is that a bad thing?

She's Back!

A Daring Adventure is Back! Welcome back Kolbi. In your post you said that the Weekly Round up was one good thing to come out of this. Another is you have no doubt now how much you are loved and how much you were missed over what must have been a very long weekend. You can sign me up for a Weekly Round up sometime in late August, AFTER we have survived packout, homeleave and are FINALLY in Malawi.

*You can expect a call from me later.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Advice from Mom and a Clothes Update

I received this e-mail from my Mom today after she read on the blog how overweight we are for this shipment. It would have been better if she had flown out to help me but at least she was thinking of me and offered her sage advice. I feel loved.

What? You don't have any furniture or appliances to take. You don't need winter clothes. The boy's last year summer clothes are too small anyway, so get rid of them. Throw out all Dave's ratty old jeans and shirts with frayed hems and holes. Get rid of all those frumpy dresses in your closet. All shoes with run down heels goes out, any underwear with skid markes goes (do you wnat your new maid to see that?) All single socks go. There is a whole new play ground where you are going, so get rid of the miscellaneous toys. Keep the bikes. You have used up all the board games anyway so they go. All the music and pictures are on computer so any loose hard copy of that goes. Go through the videos and throw out every other one, better yet have Dave put them on computer too. Clean out your makeup tray, most of it is too old to use anyway. Keep one towel per person, one washrag per person, and one sheet set per bed ( you are going to have a maid to keep them clean and anyway and there probably will be some very nice stuff really cheep where you are going). Now get rid of all the plastic crap in the kitchen. Throw out any pot that is dented, scorched, or stained. Flower pots and vases go out unless they are good enough to send to your sister-in-law for Christmas then you can keep them.

Easier said than done! Oh, and I am keeping my board games for rainy season! I did make some progress today. All the kids clothes that are torn or stained are gone. All the clothes that were outgrown have either been passed down to the next little brother or are bagged and ready to become hand me downs at someone else's house. At the end of the day each boy has one laundry basket of clothes. Total weight eliminated today? 65 pounds! I hope I can get rid of that much again tomorrow.

The declutter/spring cleaning bug must be going around. One of my favorite blogs Scribbit had a post today on how to throw things away complete with handy flow chart to help you decide what to keep or and what to throw. Maybe I should print it out and tape it to the fridge. No, never mind that would just be more trash. I will have to memorize it instead.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Could someone please explain why 3 rather smallish boys have enough clothes to dress an entire orphanage? On second thought make that three orphanages. Seriously even one of the boys has at least twice the clothes I have. Maybe I have kids clothing OCD and I don't know it.

By the end of the day each boy will be down to a reasonable amount of clothing. What's reasonable? 10-12 Shirts, 5-7 pair of pants, 1-2 pair of pj's, and a couple of jackets, and 1 swim suit. At least that's the plan. I have a lot of work to do. Better get cracking!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What happened?

No more Friday blog roundup, no more pictures of ducks, no more flowers to identify, and really who is going to make fun of my shoes now?

For details visit Diplopundit, Email From the Embassy and EF'M.

Friday, May 14, 2010


If your 9 year old son lifts weights in an effort "to get a six-pack" then leaves said weights in the middle of the carpet so that you manage to hit a five pound hand weight with your little toe when you are walking through the room making a lovely "crunch" and then said little toe swells up and turns purple so it looks like a grape you will not be wearing these shoes anytime soon. Thought you might want to know.

Oh and as a side effect your 9 year old son learns some words he probably shouldn't know until he leaves home and joins the Navy. Yes, Mom cussed like a sailor.

Weight Woes

The official estimate from our pre-packout survey came in e-mail this morning. Apparently, according to this guy's expert eye, we are close to a thousand pounds overweight. Ack!!! How can this be? We arrived at 900 pounds under weight (in case you haven't been paying attention we are allowed to ship 7200 pounds) and we haven't bought hardly anything. We can't afford to buy anything here, it is too expensive. Ok so we bought a cuckcoo clock, a stand mixer, and a toy box, but that is barely a hundred pounds, much less a thousand. What gives?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Time to clean

The dreaded day is coming, the day the packers arrive. We have twenty-nine days left until the packers arrive. Twenty-nine days to declutter our lives. I am feeling the pressure. Moving is stressful for anyone but when you are in the foreign service your life has a weight limit. The government will ship 7200 pounds of your stuff to post. If you go over that you will pay, and pay a lot, somewhere around $3 a pound. We arrived almost a thousand pounds under the weight limit, so I think we are OK. However there is an abundance of trash in this house. Trash that I do not want to see in Malawi. Broken toys, outgrown clothes, kids meal prizes, chipped cups all must go.

I have come up with a schedule going through one or two rooms a day with trash bags and no mercy. Today I tackled the entry hall and the master bathroom. Mismatched mittens, outgrown jackets, worn out snow boots ALL GONE! Make-up and nail polish that predates my arrival in Frankfurt, OUT OF HERE! Towels gone a bit thin and frayed at the edges, HISTORY! All total I threw out two bags of trash, and assorted ratty towels for a grand total of 23 pounds. That's 23 pounds from the 2 smallest rooms in the house, and that's not counting the shoes and jackets that were in good enough shape to go into the donate pile. Not a bad start.

Updated: David wanted me to add that he is in charge of the guest room. That's the room where we dump everything we don't know what to do with. He is no where near done, but so far he is at 72 pounds of garbage and 38 pounds of clothes in the donate pile. Show off!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Chichewa Studies

Malawi has two official languages. One is English. I think I can handle that one, although some days I am not so sure. The other is Chichewa (also called Nyanja) which I had never heard of until last fall when we bid on Malawi. I looked it up online and found that English is mostly spoken in larger cities while Chichewa is common throughout much of the country. Hmmm....sounds like I am going to have to learn at least a little Chichewa.

Those of you who know me well, or have read this blog for a while know that languages are NOT my gift. I am hopeless at languages. Totally and completely hopeless. In spite of that I am determined to make a better start in Malawi than I did in either Germany or Indonesia. So I started looking for computer programs to help me learn Chechewa. It didn't take me long to discover there isn't much out there, not even Rosetta Stone which is pretty much OK with me since I find Rosetta Stone the best cure for insomnia ever. Twenty minutes of that and I am out like a light. Pretty expensive cure for sleeplessness if you ask me. There are no handy online dictionaries or beginner lessons with audio to tell me how to pronounce the words. The only thing I found was this and this, the later being a textbook from 1969. Ummm....Yeah.

I finally found an app for my ipod touch that teaches the basics, you know colors, numbers, food, where's the bathroom. I paid the 10 bucks and downloaded it to my touch. Theoretically if I practice everyday I should arrive in Malawi with a vocabulary of 250 words, which would be at least 225 more words than I have in either German or Indonesian. Here is what I have learned so far:

telephone - telephoni
coffee - khofi
wine - vinyo
asprin - aspirini
taxi - tekisi
passport - passiporti
keys - makiyi
shower - shawa

Hey this isn't so bad. Maybe I can learn Chichewa. There is hope for me after all! Let's continue.

water - madzi
milk - mkaka
yes - inde
no - ayi
hospital - chipatal
good-bye - ndapita
one - chimodzi
two - ziwiri
three - zitatu

This is getting a little harder, but not too bad. I'll keep working.

hello - takulandriani
train - sitima ya pa mtunda
corn - chimanga chachiwisi
toast - buledi wootcha
credit card - khadi ya ku banki
sunglasses - magalasi a dzuwa
toothpaste - mankhwala otsukila mano

Crap! I'm screwed!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What's with the weather?

It is May. That is late spring or early summer. It should be warm. Last week we had a day that got up to 80. Spring! Yippe! I put on a pair of skorts and a tank top and played outside in the sun with the boys. The next day I went right out and bought water toys for the boys. It hasn't made above 62 since. Today it is 45 and raining. What the heck? Winter is supposed to be over. I am cold and yes, the radiators are all running. I am still cold. I am tired of being cold.

Thank you Germany for making it easy to pack up and leave. I was feeling sorry for myself as I worked on my consumables list. No more frozen pizza, poor me. Somehow right now frozen pizza is seeming like a good trade for year round warm weather. After all I can make pizza but I can't seem to get warm.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

To CLO or not to CLO?

One of the questions I get all the time is, "What do you do all day?" That question generally drives me crazy. I have 4 kids and a house to run, I stay plenty busy thank you very much! I even managed to stay busy in Jakarta where I had a full time maid. She allowed me to spend more time volunteering at the school and taking my kids to lessons without resorting to eating out frequently or living in a messy house.

Now we are heading to Malawi where I have already arranged for a house staff and gardeners. Hey, there are advantages to hardship posts! A new version of that same question keeps coming up, "What are you going to do all day? You are going to have STAFF to cook and clean, so what are YOU going to do?" Aside from murder the next person to ask me that question, mostly I had planned to allow myself a year to follow my own interests: writing, learning to play my pretty blue guitar,volunteering, other things. I say "had" because sitting in my in-box is an application for the CLO position. If you are not FS (foreign service) the CLO is the Community Liaison Officer. That is the person who arranges for community events, helps out incoming staff, liaises with the schools, is a busy, important job.

Now I am asking myself if I should apply for this position. After all, all my kids are finally in school. It has been nine years since I last worked full time outside the house. Wow! Where did the time go? I was pregnant with Colin the last time I walked out of a classroom, he will be nine and in third grade this next school year.

Maybe it is time for me to go back to work and start bringing home some money. We don't really NEED extra money but it sure would be nice. And the CLO is the perfect position to get to know everyone at a new post. A way to jump right in with both feet.

On the other hand there are so many things I want to do. For the last nine years the kids have had to come first. Now I can take some time to pursue my own interests. I have an opportunity that all too few of us have, time for me. Maybe I can finally learn to play that pretty blue guitar Dave bought me for my birthday 3 years ago. There is a quilting group in Lilongwe, I have always wanted to make a full size quilt. So far I have only done baby quilts, really basic baby quilts. There are volunteer opportunities I would like to check out, particularly at the Lilongwe Wildlife Center. And most importantly I can finally have a block of time to sit down and write everyday, without constant interruptions.

For years I have wanted to try writing, not to be published, although that would be a nice bonus, but just to see if I can do it. I read voraciously. Seriously, at least 5 books a week. (I will not discuss what my book addiction is doing to our HHE weight, but I am thinking maybe the time has come for an e-reader.) Sometimes when I am out of things to read I write my own stories, I enjoy the writing and would like to see if I could actually go somewhere with it but for me that takes time alone, without kids yelling "MOMMY" every other sentence.

So my question is this: Is it selfish to want to take a year or two to explore my own interests? Is it financially irresponsible to stay home a while longer? Should I apply for the CLO position? I think I know what I am going to do, but I have changed my mind about applying every 20 minutes or so all day. What would you do?

Wordless Wednesday--Boys and Their Toys

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Birthday Cake Woes

Dakota is having his birthday party today, at Hooters. I have expressed my disapproval, but he is eighteen, and already enlisted in the navy. He is a big boy now, at least that's how Dave put it when he backed up Cody's choice. And really, Hooters is fairly innocuous. His other choice was a beer bike. Thankfully David said "NO!" as loudly as I did. I think (hope) Cody was just trying to get a rise out of us. He knew there was no way we would say yes to that, even if the legal age to drink beer is 16 here. Anyway the party is all settled and my big problem is the cake.

You see, years ago, I made an X-rated birthday cake for my father-in-law and my brother -in-law whose birthdays were the same week. I will spare you the details. It did have a paper bikini made from cupcake liners, but once that was removed the cake was a real eyeful. Dakota has requested THAT cake for his birthday. Thing is, neither of the guys I made that cake for were my son. I just can't do it. So I made a beach babe cake. Even David said it was lame. Might as well have been a Barbie cake. So I "sexed" her up a bit. String bikini made out fruit roll-ups, purple jeweled belly button piercing, and I used a couple of red M&Ms to make her look "cold" under her bikini, if you know what I mean. The problem is fruit-roll ups have a certain, ummm....transparency issue. This cake is all set to win a wet t-shirt contest. Cody is happy, David is impressed, and I am just hoping I don't get a call from an irate parent when the party is over.

Click on the picture to make it larger.