Monday, December 31, 2012

Home in the 'Hood

Happy New Year's!!  This is going to be a short post because for the first time in 7 years Dave is cooking for a neighborhood party with all our friends in the 'hood.  We were fortunate to live in the most amazing neighborhood for 7 years.  What made it amazing wasn't the houses, it was the people, the community.  The kids playing in the park, in driveways, in front yards and back, and even in the street (much to the HOA's annoyance) while their parents talked, laughed, and got all caught up what was going on.

I am incredibly thankful that we have been able to spend the holiday season with these friends, who have over time become the sisters-of-my-heart. At the same time I am a bit sad to realize that it will probably not happen again for a long long while.  Drat I've gotten all teary-eyed writing that.

Tonight I am going to focus on the fun, not the sad.  I am going to eat my husbands brisket cooked on our old pit that now lives at his brother's house.  I am going to gorge on all the yummies cooked up by friends.  I am going to toast with champagne, beer, soda, or sweet tea which ever is in my hand when the time comes.  And most of all I am going to savor every single minute of it.

I hope where ever you are when you ring in the New Year I hope you find something special about the moment to treasure and someone to share that moment with.

 Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve

This is the first Christmas home in the states in seven years.  It has been a crazy ride. Arriving two days before Thanksgiving. Staying first at my Mom's, then at Dave's brother's.  Packing, unpacking, repacking, trying to not be that guest that overstays their welcome.  Homeschooling on the road.  Dealing with unexpected medical issues like ringworm, and no, FS friends, no one threw a cat in my car! And bilharzia.  Always fun when your kid starts peeing blood and it turns out to be some weird tropical disease the doc can't even find a lab able to perform the test to verify the diagnosis. Now the mountain cedar season has started in Texas.  Itchy eyes and stuffed up noses.  So. Much. Fun.

There have been days that I wondered why in the world I thought this extended holiday trip was a good idea.  All our Christmas stuff, all the traditions we have created during Christmases overseas, all left behind in Malawi.  We are missing lazy weekend days laying by the pool in the mid-summer African sun. Missing board games with friends.  Missing the holiday party at the Ambassador's residence and seeing who played Santa this year.  Missing throwing  our New Year's Day, black-eyed peas for good luck in the New Year party.

This week reminded me why I came home for the holidays. It has been the absolute best.  Girl's night in playing Quelf.  I must get this game.  With three boys still at home I really really need a game that may require you to be a sad weeping willow every time a "4" is rolled or it may require you to give yourself a wedgie, and if you "De-wedgify" yourself at any point during the game you have to pay a 2 space penalty.  Take note, only play this game with people you are totally comfortable seeing you making an idiot of yourself.  These particular girlfriends have known me forever. We saw each other through pregnancy, morning sickness, potty training, and the first day of kindergarten.  They are sisters of my heart, so giving myself a wedgie in front of them was no problem, but there will be no wedgie pictures posted here.  Sorry.

I took Grayson to his first live theater experience with bunches of other kids from the 'hood. We saw Junie B. Jones, Jingle Bells Batman Smells.  He loved it and now can't wait to read the books. We even got to meet the whole cast and take pictures afterward.

We went to the tree farm and cut our own little tree.  We used to do this every year. The boys have seen pictures of Dakota cutting the tree, but the younger boys are too young to really remember those annual trips. They only remember the fake tree we ship from post to post.  This morning we went out to Mom's house to decorate the little tree.  And if a live tree weren't enough we set up a white Christmas tree at my brother-in-law Paul's house.  Due to his tree hating cats it is outside on the porch, but that is OK, it does double duty as yard decor.  That's it at the top of this blog post.  I love it.

There has been so much more this past week than I can even write about. Zoo trip, shopping and not on Amazon, River walk boat cruise to see the lights, hiking at Lost Maples State Park, attending a surprise party that was actually a surprise, cruising for Christmas lights, fire pit and s'mores at two different friend's houses on two different nights, basketball in the park, Christmas Eve dinner at Danny's (another brother-in-law) followed by tamales, dessert, and fire pit at at Ms. A Day In the Life's house while the kids zoomed around the cul-de-sac on rip sticks, scooters and skateboards.  It really is a Wonderful Life.

Merry Christmas Y'all!!  Wherever you may be!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Just Another Day Living Overseas

Disclaimer: its Dave here again. Shannon and the kids are in the USA where she has limited access to the Internet right now.

It's just another day living overseas. Holidays come and go and some are celebrated and some not so much. Traditions are big in our home as it helps to create memories. Like Friday night movies and desert Wednesdays. One of the best memories I have of Thanksgiving is at my Mamaw's and Papaw's house where a bunch of tables would be placed to span from one end of the living room to the other side of the dining room. Around the table were their two kids and most of the grandchildren. But that was a long time ago. Papaw passed in 1979.

I use memories such as this to set a standard for what celebrations like thanksgiving should be like. My last Thanksgiving with my Mother was similar except Shannon and I hosted it in our home. Again in a small house with tables spanning the living room and dining room filled with most of her children and grandchildren. My mother passed in 2000.

This Thanksgiving Shannon and the kids went to her uncle Tommy's house with her mother, enjoying fried turkey and friendly games of washers... creating new memories for our kids to build upon and help set the standard for them later on.

Not only do we have holiday meals at the dinner table, but we eat every meal as a family at the dinner table. Ok except one... the inauguration of President Obama... we all sat in the living room to see it live. History in the making.

You see, this is the first Thanksgiving in seven years in the USA let alone at her Uncles. I don't think the kids even remember the last Thanksgiving they had in the USA. I am truly thankful that they are spending it with Shannon's Mom and Uncle.

Living overseas... its hard for me to go "home" because I know that my traditions are so different then most of my family... All of their celebrations are done buffet style. You get your food and you go find some place to sit and eat.

I am not sure where I am going with this except perhaps to just write it down to share my thoughts.

It would be nice to know that we are not the only people out here that hold on to old traditions. If you have any traditions you have feel free to share.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Letter to my Lover

Disclaimer: I have to tell you this is David writing. I am sure you would figure that out pretty quickly, but Shannon says I have to tell everyone its me so the readers don’t think it's her.

I find myself home alone tonight as the family has left for R&R back to the USA. Shannon an I have a tradition of leaving little notes for each other when we leave for periods of time. I did not get to leave a note in any of her bags... to see when she starts to unpack this time. Currently she is above Namibia on the second leg of her 26 hour journy home and I know she does not have access to internet and will not until she gets to her mothers house.

I wanted to share publicy my note to her now. By guy standars its pretty sappy, so if you don’t like sappy quit reading. 

Dearest Lover,

My love for you grows stronger every day we are together and twice as much when we are apart. I missed you the moment you left my sight. The house will be empty without you here but my heart will still be full of your love.

The other day you asked why I keep staring at you… so I could keep fresh in my mind all the different faces, gestures, and movements you make… so when I close my eyes it will be as though you are right here with me.

I will miss being next to you at night…holding you. I’m not sure what I am going to do at 0500 when you are not here for me to caress and hold as you wake for your first cup of coffee. I will miss the walks we take every evening… when we get to talk about the days events. I will also miss all of the wonderful dinners you make for me and all the stories you tell that make me laugh.

I will continue to sleep, holding your pllow next to me as though it is you… but it wont be the same. I will continue to take the walks and talk as though you are with me. And I will fill my time with all the adventures I know you want me to have.

Most importantly I will continue to love you and fall in love with you every day that I wake.

Enjoy your time with you Mom and Thanksgiving at Uncle Tommy’s. Eat a piece of fried turkey for me and make sure the boys get to play washers.

I will see you in a few short weeks.

All my heart and love - Me

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Change of Plans

It has been a crazy week in the Cyberbones house.  A week ago handshakes came out.  If you're not part of the Foreign Service family, handshakes are what we call it when you are notified of your next assignment (aka posting).  It is an exciting day.  Facebook and blogs across the world were busy announcing the news.

We had placed bids on six posts.  Two in Asia, two in Europe, one in the Middle East and one in Washington DC. I know the list looks a little crazy, but there are all sorts of rules and regulations about bidding, so we bid on a variety of geographic regions, just like we are supposed to.

For a number of reasons we had become a bit fixated on the DC option.  For one thing DC would require finding and renting or buying a house in a ridiculously expensive real estate market.  The day I said, "Hey look at this one it, its pretty nice and only $500,000." is the day I realized that when you start thinking half a million dollars is reasonable, you have been looking at DC houses too long. We had also pretty much decided we would continue homeschooling if we were to go to DC. I am not totally enamored of the curriculum I chose this year and would do it differently next year if we were to continue homeschooling.

In the evenings after the kids went to bed and Dave and I did our obligatory Facebook check in, we were on the net surfing DC real estate (Dave) and homeschool curriculums alternating with house decorating sites (Me).  So Monday when Dave finally got the long awaited e-mail my reaction was not "SQEEEE!!! We got Oman!!"  I think what I said was more long the lines of a very puzzled, "Really we're not going to DC?  Seriously? Are you kidding me?" Not quite the reaction Dave was looking for.

Of course once I had a chance to start really looking at Oman I became VERY excited and remembered why we bid on it.  David is now spending his evenings looking at 4X4 vehicles because he is totally planning on doing this.

With the kids.  EEEEK!

I am spending my time looking at the three English language International type schools in Muscat, trying to decide which is the best fit, because the kiddos ARE going back to school after all.  YAY! I get my life back. SOB! I'm going to miss having them home all day. (*note from husband yeah right!)

I think it's down to two schools: The American International School of Muscat (TAISM) which I have been told is fabulous, and the American British Academy (ABA) which uses the IB curriculum.  Colin's beloved 4th grade teacher taught at ABA for 5 years before coming to Malawi. Mr. B has lots of good to say about that school, but TAISM is the school where most FS kids go, and I've heard great things about it too. It's going to be a tough choice.  And then there's the British School Muscat which also looks like a good school, but my kids have never  been on the British national curriculum so it probably isn't for us.

When I am not consumed with schools, I am busy trying to figure out how I am going to get in shape between now and August, factoring in a 2 month holiday R&R starting next week during which you can bet I am going to eat my weight in turkey, ham, and Mexican food.  Later there will be pack out stress and associated goodbye parties, and then home leave this coming summer, during which I will again eat my weight in Mexican food and BBQ.  Sounds like a plan destined to fail, right?

In spite of the odds stacked against me, I am feeling fairly confident I can succeed. I am not-at-all worried about losing weight.  I am happy with my  weight for the first time in decades.  It has taken me 7 years and 3 continents but I have gone from 168 to under 140, barely under, but under. No, I am good if I don't lose even a pound. But instead, I am worried about getting in shape, being able to have the strength and energy to keep up with the kids. Apparently Oman is a hotbed of outdoor adventure sports.  I am pretty sure that as fun as canyoning, rock climbing, sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving look on the computer screen you have to have a certain level of fitness to make it even remotely fun in real life. Judging from the last few hikes I have gone on with the kids, I'm not quite there, but I WILL be!  After all, I have this to inspire me.

Whoa! Wait a minute, scratch those last two!  I don't do heights.  I especially don't do zip lines and what ever that second thingy is called.  No thanks!  Dave is on his own with the boys for those.  I'll go hang out at Starbucks instead, because did I mention, Oman has those too!  Yes, Life is good. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Science Lessons

On of the tough things about homeschooling in Malawi is science.  More specifically shopping for science lessons.  Basic things like balloons or modeling clay are either impossible to find or ridiculously expensive.  We needed balloons for something, I forget what, but we went to 5 different stores before I found balloons.  I was all excited and grabbed the package.  Dave stood there looking at the price, until finally he asked slowly, "Are you really going to pay 10 dollars for a bag of balloons?"  Sigh.  I guess not when you put it that way.

Anyway, the two older boys have started working out of their chemistry book, yes I have both boys working out of the same book even though they are different grades.  I don't remember much from junior high science, do you?  I have yet to be able to find everything needed for any of the experiments, and the boys and I were getting really frustrated.  Yes we have been able to watch the experiments performed on Brain Pop or Discovery Streaming, but it really isn't the same as doing the experiments yourself.

Finally I had an epiphany! Last Christmas Colin got a super-duper huge electronics set complete with teachers manuals and student learning guides.  Out with chemistry, in with electricity.  Looking at the first few lessons had me trying desperately to remember the difference between series and parallel circuits. I know one of those is the reason when one Christmas light goes out on the tree they all flipping go out, but I don't know which or why, and actually I don't much care. I finally asked Dave for help.  Mr."I-did-advance-electronics-in-the-navy"  has taken over the science lessons for the Alonzo and Colin. Yay!!

Now I am sitting here with my feet up listening to him drone on and on about protons and electrons, charged particles and switches.  The boys are totally enraptured.  They're happy they are learning "real" science. Dad's happy to be involved in the homeschooling and teaching something he likes.  I am happy.  I'm relaxing with a beer.  Now all I have to do is find someone who wants to teach the boys reading, or math, or writing.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Lips

One thing every parent knows is that when the kids get really quiet they are up to something.  Today I went to investigate my suddenly way too quiet kids and found this:

Pumpkin lips tattoo.  Just fabulous. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I have struggled to write a coherent or even semi-coherent blog post about events of the past week.  I must have a dozen or more attempts at expressing my thoughts.  Thankfully there are those in the FS blog-o-sphere who are far more eloquent than I.

With permission, and gratitude,  I am reposting from Globehoppers.  She did a wonderful job compiling some of the many posts dealing with the tragedy.  Thank you Michele for allowing me to share this with my readers.

Around the Interwebs.

The past week has been filled with emotion across the region and throughout the FS/DS.








The world media and the Foreign Service blogosphere exploded with personal accounts of working with the fallen,what our jobs mean in a worldview, updates as our buildings were infiltrated, dread about the next target, reactions to our colleagues and friends in harm's way, and the little we could do but watch and wait.

Many articles reflected the emotional roller-coaster of being part of the FS/DS family.

emailfromtheembassy is here in Jordan and married to our RSO: "It ended with me finally truly understanding what kind of life we were living, when everything can change without a moment's notice, when the people you love are out there, somewhere, doing things you can only imagine, to stop the bad guys from hurting the good guys. It ended with me realizing that my husband could have died, could still, at any time die, because of the work he does, because he chooses to run into situations from which other people run away."

So many tried to explain what we do and why we do it.

ohhenrythomas wrote An elegy for men I never met: "I listened to a call-in radio show this week, on which caller after caller demanded to know why “we” don’t try and explain to “those people” what freedom of speech means in America.  “Don’t you know that that’s what diplomats DO?,” I howled at the stereo.  And, finally, it occurred to me:  No.  No, they don’t know.  Most people don’t know what it is that Foreign Service Officers, like Ambassador Stevens, and Foreign Service Specialists, like Sean Smith, do."

Discussions on freedom of speech, freedom of dissent, and misguided anger.

Arab Spring nations don't yet grasp freedom of dissent: "These are people who were born and raised in dictatorships. They are accustomed to thinking that a government controls its citizens -- that a film or documentary cannot be produced without government approval. For decades, this has been the reality of their lives, and they strongly believe that the Western world and its citizens have a similarly controlling relationship between individuals and government."

But the most hard-hitting were the blogposts from those on the ground.

Whatever is Lovely by bergamotorange, the director's wife of the American School in Tunis: "Grief has these predictable stages.  Denial is always first and we were certainly in that state all through the first night and then the acceptance set in and so did the mourning.  Saturday, we faced reality either visiting school or scrolling through pictures on Facebook  trying to figure out whose classroom the charred remains represented.  There were constant phone calls and emails from friends in Tunisia and around the world to offer condolences and help to rebuild."

We all cried when Ambassador Stevens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods came home under the U.S. flag.  We all are hurt and angry that our Embassies and Consulates are bearing the brunt of the people's outrage.

I had a disturbing exchange with a teen back in the States over the weekend.  His answer to the troubles here was very simple: Evacuate and Neutralize.

Think on that bold an brash statement.

It's that sort of armchair patriotism that can truly put us at risk.

cheerfulstoic points out a truth that all Americans should realize: "When you join the foreign service they tell you that you are now the face of the United States of America, on duty or off, in the office or at home, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And we are expected to conduct ourselves in a manner that reflects well on our country. Well, guess what America. You are - all 314 million of you - the face of the United States of America. In this interconnected modern world you don't even have to leave your house for a foreigner to meet you and judge you and your country by your words and deeds."

We are a thick-skinned Service.  It's part of my definition of Diplomat.  People say and do awful, hurtful, and mean things to us and about our beloved United States of America.  But it's not a sign of weakness to not hit back.  It's the exact opposite.  In its most basic state, it's something more playgrounds should teach.

We can get angry.  Get hurt.  Get sad.

But then we get back to work and reopen our doors.  You don't curse the people of your host nation.  And you certainly don't walk all over your host government with an inflated sense of righteousness because of what's happened.  And you don't take the acts of a few thousand and lay waste to millions.

Why are we even here?  To expose other nations to what we hold so dear.  Freedom of speech.  Freedom of religion.  Freedom of dissent.  These we define as basic human rights.

All humans.

We ask questions like "What can we do to help remedy this?"

"How do we open the lines of communication again?"

How do we explain to them that the freedoms we enjoy come at a cost: of hearing things we don't like; of seeing things we find offensive, of being told we are wrong, of having components to our society that are truly hateful.

As diplomats our answers to these questions do not involve bullets.

Learn about what we do.

America's Other Army

Our Diplomats Deserve Better

Visit for breaking newsworld news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Sad Day

Today is a sad day. On Wednesday I usually post a Wordless Wednesday pictures.  Not today.

Today I am morning the  loss of four American heroes.  These heroes worked to uphold the policies of the US government.  No, they weren't Marines. No, they weren't Army infantry.  They weren't Air Force, Navy or even Coast Guard. They were members of a much smaller group.  They were diplomats.  Card carrying members of the United States Foreign Service.

Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Information Management Officer Sean Smith, and two other Americans who names have not yet been released pending notification of family were killed in Libya yesterday.

I didn't have the privilege of knowing either of the men, but the Foreign Service is, in many ways, like a small town.  If you don't personally know someone, then you know someone who does knows them.   Six degrees of separation does not exist in the FS, more like one degree, or at most two. This is especially true in these times of FB, blogs, and twitter.  Just days ago I read a post about Ambassador Stevens, at the time I smiled and thought what a wonderful guy to work for.  Sean Smith was a husband and father, and through a blog link that passed my way this morning, I learned he was also an avid gamer. It puts a rather personal face on these men I have never met.

My thoughts and prayers today are with the family and friends of the fallen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Things Kids Say - Homeschool Edition

Dave was working with Gray tonight on his math.  Gray was not into the assignment, which is why he was still working on it after dinner tonight. Dave decided to give us both a break and take over from me  for a while.

At one point he looked up at Dave, his eyes brimming with tears and stated, "My brain is all full, I can't learn anything else."

I'm afraid I had to leave the room so he wouldn't see me laughing.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Things Kids Say Math Edition

Mom:  How much is 18-10?

Child: I don't know I don't have eighteen fingers.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Malawi, the Good and the Bad

It's that time again. Bid lists are out. Much of the FS world is now busy researching, worrying, lobbying, and dreaming about the next post.  Researching posts is tricky and time consuming.  You are relying on relatively few resources to decide if Banjul or Guayaquil  is someplace you can live for the next three years.  Jill, who hosts the  FS BRU came up with the brilliant idea to have each of us write a blog post highlighting the best and worst of our current post to help out those of us bidding this time.  So here goes.

The Five Best Things About Malawi

1. The lake.  Lake Malawi is huge. It runs almost the length of the country.  There are lots of little places along the length to the lake where you can go for a get away.  By far my favorite get aways are Domwe and Mumbo Islands at the south end of the lake.  What's not to love about this?   It's paradise, right?

2. The yards.  Most houses here have a huge yard.  I love our yard.  It has a pond, a vegetable garden, a patio, 2 screened porches, and lots of room for the kids to run and play.  This is the first house with a yard we've had since joining the FS. I've really missed being able to sit outside on Sunday morning sharing a quiet cup of coffee with Dave.  Of course I don't have to mow the grass, I have gardeners for that, or I might like the yard a whole lot less come rainy season.  Man does that grass grow quick once the rain starts.  

3. New businesses.  Since we arrived two years ago a number of new businesses have opened expanding our options for shopping and eating out.  We now have a Spar (a sparsely stocked Spar, but it's another option for groceries) and a Game.  Still no Starbucks. Oh Well. We  do have Ama's Kohfi who's carmel latte keeps my Starbucks cravings at bay, and they make a mean mocha caramel cake.   Latitudes is a fancy new place perfect for a night out.  And if you are really in need of a mani/pedi or a massage, Tips and Toes is just the place. It's only been open two months but it usually seems to be busy.  I'll be heading there later this week when my kids head off to Green Camp.  

4.  Critters.  This is Colin's contribution to the list.  He loves wildlife and our back yard is full of critters for him to catch and terrorize. Hedgehogs, tortoises, lizards, frogs, it has it all. He has memorized the birding book and puts it good use identifying all the avian visitors to our back yard.  Thanks to the pond we get a lot of beautiful birds visiting us.  From the the tiny blue Waxbills to the occasional Heron they are very cool. 


5. Safari. Safari recharges my batteries and makes me fall in love with Africa all over again.  Going on safari was a childhood dream, one I really didn't think would ever come true, but since moving here it has, over and over again.  I never get tired of going on safari.  There are not a lot of options for viewing wildlife close to Lilongwe, but there are places close enough to enjoy over a long weekend.


6.  Community.  I know it was supposed to be 5 good things but I have to include the community here. Maybe it is a small post thing, but there is a real sense of community, and not just among the embassy folks.  It is very nice thing to be a part of. I am really looking forward to school starting in a week because it means that all my friends will be returning to post and I am looking forward to getting all caught up on what's been happening in everyone's life over the long school break.  

The Five Worst Things About Malawi

1. Grocery Shopping. This is a consumables post for a reason.  Grocery shopping takes hours.  You end up going to every single grocery store in town and still come home without some of the things on your list.  It has been much better the last few months, but last year there were long stretches of time where you couldn't buy butter, or sugar, or sodas, or beer.  Yes I said BEER.  It is getting bad when you can't get beer. Even when you can buy beer the choices are Carlsburg green label, Carlsburg Special, Carlsburg Stout, and Kuche Kuche.  I really wish I had know this when we were packing out in Germany I could have brought some Dunkels and Hefeweizen with me.  

2.  Traffic.  It isn't the same kind of traffic issues you have in someplace like Manila or Jakarta but driving here is awful.  People don't even slow down for red lights, pedestrians walk in the middle of the road to keep out of the dust or mud, bicycles are everywhere and they all seem to have wobbly tires so they weave and swerve in front of you without warning, and worst of all are the minibuses which are simply a health hazard.  The roads are full of potholes, and the edges are badly eroded sometimes having drop-offs of 8 or more inches where there should be a shoulder.  It is easy to flip a car if you are not paying attention to the edge of the road.  

3. Smoke.  My neighbors on all sides dispose of trash and yard debris by burning, this on top of their staff using wood to cook all of their meals.  The smell of smoke permeates my house at all times.  My throat was never this raw from the pollution in Jakarta. Leaving town doesn't help either.  Crop residues aren't composted or plowed back into the soil, instead they are raked into big heaps and burned.  Flying in during dry season you can spot dozens and dozens of smoke plumes when flying over.  

4.  Critters.  This one balances Colin's love of critters.  While theoretically I love that he is getting the chance to develop his love of nature there are critters in our yard I would prefer not to know about. Specifically spiders.  Big hairy spiders. I hate spiders.  HATE THEM! And we seem to have a colony of giant baboon spiders (tarantulas) in the back yard.  Colin has no problem scooping them up and carry them around. UGGH!  YUCK! 

Oh, and the cockroaches.  And ants.  There are ants every-flipping-where. They are horrible.  My snake phobia has reached all new heights.  It makes no difference that we haven't found even one dangerous snake in our yard, I am terrified than one day I will walk out and there will be a mamba waiting for me.  Just knowing mambas and cobras and boomslangs live around here is enough to make me crazy. 

5. Internet. The internet speed has really increased since we moved here two years ago.  It is still really expensive, but at least it is now fast enough to actually be able to watch a YouTube video.  The big problem is vandalism.  The lines are constantly cut, and sometimes stolen. It's not unusual for us to have no internet for days at a time due to someone stealing the copper or cutting the fiber.  This weekend alone there were at least 7 lines cuts that I know about.  It is very frustrating, especially as we head into this year of homeschooling when I am really going to need the internet. 

If anyone out there  is looking at bidding on Malawi PLEASE feel free to contact me.  It's not a bad posting, but it sure makes a difference in your happiness if you are prepared.  

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Homeschooling Day 1

Today we are supposed to start homeschooling. It is now 9 am. Only one of the boys has had breakfast.  No one's bed is made. the books are still in the cabinet. Two boys are fighting, one is crying, the other is smirking because he made his brother cry, and one boy is hiding in his bedroom as far from the other two as possible just in case some of the blame for the bad behavior should spill over one him.  Great start.

Today's plan was to start slow. List what everyone, including mom, hopes to study this year.  Look over all the new books.  Do a little math, a little writing, and work on a daily school schedule. I am having a few problems figuring out how to school 3 kids at 3 different grades all at once.  I expect we will work it out eventually. When I home schooled Alonzo year before last it took about two months to settle into a  schedule that worked.  Hopefully it will go faster this time.  

In addition to the academic basics of reading, writing, math, science, and history, I really want to teach life skills like simple cooking and the basics of sewing and most importantly MANNERS. What  skills, academic or otherwise, do you think are essential for kids to learn?

They finally quit fighting and are checking out their new math manipulatives. Things are looking up, fingers crossed. 

I set out all their books on a blanket for then to look at but they just grabbed the math stuff and took it to the table to play with.

Monday, July 30, 2012

And She's Gone

After a month long visit we took Dave's sister Teri to the airport this morning.  SOB!  It is time to get back to reality. I haven't blogged much at all for the last month because I have been having too much fun hanging out with the coolest sister-in-law ever.

I promise I will try to post some of the fun we have had, later though, not right now.  Now I am supposed to be getting ready to start homeschooling all three boys tomorrow.  GULP!  Obviously I am stalling by playing on the computer so here a few last pictures of her leaving Malawi before I get myself in gear.

Brother and sister

And the rest of the group

There she goes....

One last last wave and she's gone. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Risen From the Ashes

I am not the only blogger in the Cyberbones family. Dave has had a photo blog for almost as long as I have had this blog.  Sadly he quit updating it somewhere along the line while we lived in Germany. This last week, out of the blue, he began updating again.  I am happy to announce the return of Pictures Taken By Me.  Except the pictures were taken by Dave not by me, which is actually true of most of the pictures on Cyberbones too.

This time he is trying something different.  Instead of featuring photography taken with his oversized digital SLR with it's mega zoom, most of the pictures will be taken on the go with his handphone.  No fancy camera equipment, no running the pictures through aperture to clean up the images.  Just point, click, and post.

Here is a picture he took the other night while reading to the kids before bedtime. This wooden rhino hangs over a huge beanbag in the office that is the perfect place to curl up and read, but with only the lamp on the rhino looks a little sinister. To see more of his view on our daily life here in Malawi just click here.