Saturday, May 31, 2008


Isn't it interesting how different children are when it comes to being sick? Kaleb has always been a bit needy when he is sick; he wants to make sure that I know that he feels awful and that I am not off having fun forgetting about him. He was like this when he was really little, and interestingly, he is still like this! Anna, on the other hand, has always been a great sick kid. She just lays around until she feels better. Again, she was like that when she was little and she is still like this! It was especially noticable when she had strep throat right after Kaleb had it!

When Andrew gets hurt he always wants to go somewhere and sleep...he doesn't want anybody to look at the injury or ask him what happened...he wants to burry himself in his blankets and deal with it later. When he is sick it is the same thing; usually he forgets to mention it. Now, Andrew was not always like this; I remember when he was little and he would make the biggest deal (and the most noise) about any injury at all. When Andrew is sick he doesn't like to be cuddled or pampered. He takes such good care of anybody else when they are sick, however, that when Andrew is sick he gets lots of love and pampering from the whole family.

Alissa....hmmm...I don't think that Alissa gets sick very often, but whens he says she is sick you know that she is serious. She hates laying around and not helping and tries to get better as soon as she can so she can help me take care of the next sick one.

Joshua and Jonathan both were just sick with fevers and upset stomachs. Jon tends to just lay around and get better like Anna and Joshua tends to be more like his big brother Kaleb. He is very clingy and needy and wants to make sure I am taking good care of him...water is close by; his pillow, his blanket, his throw up bucket...

I do not get sick very often, but when I do get sick I guess I want everybody to be aware of the fact. :-) It seems like moaning actually speeds up the healing process as well.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Field Trip Day!

I wish I had a camera so I could post pictures of our field trip. It seems like photos would make it seem more official and I believe that this was our first official field trip! I would almost count our trip to Crater Lake, Oregon as an official field trip, but I don't wasn't really for school.

Today we went to a nature center here in Lilongwe. Kaleb had to miss it because he had a stomach ache and Andrew didn't want to be the only older boy in the group so he skipped it too. In our homeschool group we had four of my children, Lee-anne's 3, Christina's 2 and Andrea's 3. The children seemed to really enjoy the tour which included a long walk through the wildlife center and stops along the way to see different animals and questions about the things that we were learning from the guide. We saw a 12 year old male crocodile and at the same time ran into one of the men from the UK who helps run the place I think who explained to the children in quite a bit of detail about how they actually know it is a male (the kids asked).

It was a hot day but it was a great field trip. We thought we might go back on a different day and arrange to help with the feeding of the animals. Then the kids can see a lot more of the animals than they did today. Overall, it was a great day!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Busy Tuesday!

Tuesday has turned out to be our busiest day. I have ladies Bible Study at a nearby home at 9:00am until 11:am. Joel picks me up and brings me home afterwards and we make lunch and do some clean-up and get Anna, Joshua and Jonathan ready to go to soccer class. We leave at 2:30 and get home between 4:30 and 5pm. Then we have to cook supper by at least 5:45 because on Tuesdays that is when the lights go out. We usually have our family devotions from 6:00 until 6:30 or so and then it is "hide and scare everybody witless" time until 8:00pm when the lights come back on.

Tuesdays, being extra busy, usually has quite substandard food. Usually mac and cheese for lunch and then bread and peanut butter for supper. Well, I would like to say that after 5 (or however many) days of cooking, today we actually had a good lunch and a good supper! The day started out with homemade bread for breakfast. Then at lunch we had baked chicken and rice with green beans. Then supper was goulash. That is 2 real meals in one day! The best we usually do is one real meal in a day and on Tuesdays there usually is no real meal (there is always food; but not a real meal, if you know what I mean). Buying pizza is expensive and there is nothing that really fits the definition of "fast food" here in Lilongwe. So, I am already reaping the rewards of our 5 (or however many) hard (and some not so hard) days of cooking! I think that tomorrow we will have stir fry for lunch and then chicken and rice soup for supper. Oh, and pancakes for breakfast.

Anyone else tempted to try the once a month cooking?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Done at last!

I have lost count as far as how many actual days we have been cooking since I started our once a month cooking experience. Today we pretty much the last day. We made bread all day. We ate some, gave some away and put 10 loaves in the freezer. Bread is nice since it takes so long to raise and then cook; we could do bread and do school at the same time. Alissa got really good at making bread and we all agree that her bread was better than mine. Andrew felt bad saying that but I asked him why it would bother me. First, I taught her (well, she did get some lessons from G'ma before we came here), Secondly, I love her so much I like that her bread is better than mine, and lastly, now I can say, "Hey, Alissa, go make bread!" How great is that!

So, today we did bread and Anna grated all of the motzerella cheese. Yesterday we chopped the carrots, cleaned, chopped, and cooked the green beans, chopped onions, green peppers and whatever else we saw sitting on the counter.

We are now breathing a sigh of relief and think that this is actually worth it! We already know what we are having for lunch tomorrow (and Tuesday is my busy day)! I have also figured out that I need to do things differently next month. I need to do veggies before grocery shopping day. I need to do bread day in the middle of the month along with tortilla day.

I have also thought that all of this cooking doesn't actually put me a head of where many people are in the states who eat normal foods available from the store. Tortillas, spaghetti sauce, sloppy joe sauce, pizza sauce, frozen veggies, cut up chicken, grated cheese...bread. But it does put me ahead of where I have been for the past 6 months! I can't wait to see if we end spending less money on groceries and if I find that I spend less time in the kitchen (now that the cooking week is over).

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Day Three and Day Four!

Yesterday was Day Three of our Once a Month Cooking experience! We got a lot done! I found out that I got way more chicken than I needed so Joel had 16 whole chickens to clean and cut up (I am so glad that he doesn't mind that job because it is one that I don't enjoy!) instead of 12. When I thought I bought 12 whole chickens I was actually wondering why I had gotten so many. I really only needed 9. So I was figuring out what to do with the extra chickens when I realized that I had gotten 16 chickens! Well, now we have deboned chicken in the freezer for soup, cut up chicken in the freezer for being fried, cleaned, whole chickens in the freezer for boiling, chicken breast cut and cooked and frozen for stir-fry and lots of extra bit and pieces of chicken in the freezer for Jasper.

We made and froze spaghetti sauce with hamburger in it and spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce without hamburger in it. Sloppy Joes, Taco meat, and browned ground beef to make goulash with.

That seems like a lot of food!

I also got another curtain up in the livingroom. We found out that the little hooks for the curtains are so expensive that I need to try to just hang them up with hooks every 3rd or 4th hook spot instead of every hook spot like I did in the livingroom.

The kids and I all watched the old Superman movies. Kaleb, after becoming hooked on Lord of the Rings, thought it wouldn't have enough realistic action in it, but he ended up enjoying it as much as the next guy.

Today is Saturday, day four of the once a month cooking (I wonder if the "once" in once a month counts for the entire week and a half that I am imagining that it will take us to cook all this food or if it is really supposed to be one day like I so ignorantly imagined?)

Today we decided to make all of the bread products. This also is tortillas for our two taco meals. We actually were able to get 1/2 of the tortillas done before lunch time. We found out that we don't eat as many tortillas as we thought we would (we had tacos for lunch) and we took a break from cooking after lunch. I hung up the curtains for the girls' bedroom, the little boys' bedroom, the diningroom, the schoolroom and the kitchen. They all look great even though they don't have as many hooks in them. I must say that for someone who is not good at picking out colors I did a great job in the girls' room! The animals and colors make it look like a soft jungle and the light green of the walls just look like lots of trees! It is very pretty! I told them that if Aunt Tina (from Zambia) were here she would paint trees and more animals on their walls.

Joel took Kaleb and Andrew to another soccer game and when he gets back we will all be going to a birthday party for Jason, the son of our friends James and Lee-Anne. Tomorrow morning Joel will be going to a conference near the lake and I will finish up the bread products that I failed to start today. This once a month cooking is really a lot of work, but I really do think that it will be well worth it as soon as we actually finish the cooking part! Oh, and the kitchen curtains look great! I mean, honestly, you would almost think that I knew how to choose things like that! I surprised myself! Although Kaleb said that the orange in the curtains (that I thought perfectly matched the orange collander that I hang on the wall for ease of use *and* decoration) was really red. I still think it matches.

Until tomorrow!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Day Two of once a month cooking!

It is almost 7:00 am of day two of our first once a month cooking experience in eleven years!

Before I list the things I plan/hope to accomplish today, let me tell you about day one.

We weren't sure when Day One would happen. It all depended on our money arriving and being able to go shopping. At the same time as our money came in we got a call that our curtains were finished! Joel dropped Kaleb and me off at the store while he went to pick up the curtains. I was in such a rush while picking out the fabric last week that I couldn't really remember what I had chosen, but seeing it again, I must tell you that it is really pretty. You would almost imagine that the person who picked out the curtains for the livingroom had a sense of what matches (and we all know that I don't) so I am relieved! A lot of people I know have curtains with just a single color but I have always liked colorful curtains (maybe because we don't go with very colorful paint...well, the paint is officially "colorful" since it does have color; but I mean it is not bright).

Back to the store. Alissa and Andrew stayed home with Anna, Joshua and Jonathan which made it easier to shop. I had a big list but Kaleb and I split it up between us and we finished our shopping for a months worth of groceries in less time than I usually take to get my normal weekely things purchased. At times I was embarrassed to actually put the things on my list in my cart...I mean, 24 bags of macaroni? That is a LOT of macaroni. And 12 (or was it 16?) whole chickens! Luckily Joel arrived when we were almost finished and took over picking out the chickens since he is better at that than me. I ended up just forgetting my embarrassment and piled everything I needed into 2 carts. I realized as I continued my shopping that buying this much stuff really did help me save money already! For example, I usually buy macaroni that is K$2.69 (US$1.79) instead of the macaroni that is K$2.29 (US$1.52) because I never buy more than 2 or so bags in a week (at least until I run out and then ask Joel to go back to the store to get me more). Well, buying 24 bags I realized that the US$.27 savings would add up! So, I got the cheaper macaroni (and we had some last night and it tasted great!) and saved US$6.48!

I am sure that you are getting the idea. We were a sight to behold...Kaleb was using his math skills and getting oil in the big jug instead of 4 smaller bottles and helping me realize which size flour we should buy (although I have to tell you, I went straight for the good more buggy flour for me!).

As I was checking out I remembered Brazil where people would go to bigger stores to buy stuff for their little supermarcados. My cart looked a lot like theirs. Then I realized that many people here in Lilongwe come just for grocery shopping once every few months and then head back out to the bush and we might just look like we are doing that! We got no funny looks for emptying out the macaroni aisle.

We came home and put our things away to await Day two of the once a month cooking experience(that is today!). We then put up two of the curtains in the livingroom which just about killed my fingers as I tried to manipulate these tiny (but strong) wire hook things. Our biggest livingroom curtain needed 120 of them to hang up the curtain. You can imagine my frustration when I had finished and realized that half of the curtain was on right and the other half was put on backwards! Sigh. But we all agreed that they look great and they already make the room cozier.

Back to today! Day Two! Today Joel and Kaleb will go the market to get the veggies. They will also get ketchup and more hamburger (which they didn't have at the big store). When they get home we will begin cooking up some of the meals. I also hope to put up some more curtains today. Our problem with the curtains is that each curtain needs so many of the hooks that each curtain rod needs a certain amount of little hook catcher things. Our curtain rods just didn't come with that many hook catcher things so Joel is going to have to find some today. My friend Lee-Anne is coming over on Thursday for a homeschool group meeting and I will ask her to bring her camera so I can take some pictures of the curtains so you can see how pretty they are. I will take a picture of Jasper too so you can see how big he is getting.

Oh, besides the cooking and the curtains I have about all the laundry in the house to wash and hang up on the line to dry. I am sure that it will be a busy (and hopefully productive) day! I will fill you in tomorrow!

Well, there is one more thing I must share that doesn't really go under the heading of Day 2 of once a month cooking. Last night when I went to bed there was a huge lizard on my bed! It was long and had a big green stipe on its back! Now, Kaleb went and rescued me and he swears it was just normal gecco size but I totally disagree. That would have bothered me a lot, but not to the extent that I sat up in the livingroom until the boys went to bed so they could completely take my bed apart checking for the lizard nest that I had convinced myself must be hiding under my bed. Kaleb kinda grumped about it but sweet Andrew got into it and Kaleb had to help or look bad. The boys honestly didn't know why I would be upset at discovering such a great find as a striped lizard in my bed...I mean, they generally have to wander around outside before they find one. Sigh. I did not get a good nights sleep last night and I am afraid that neither did Joel as I pretty much stayed on his side of the bed last night trying to stay warm because there was no way I was going to cover up with the blanket that had a striped green lizard on it!

Ok, that is all! Day Two Begins!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The White Dog

Well, I suggested to Joel today that we should consider getting a cat. An expat here is leaving the country and her cat needs a home. I guess Joel is less of a cat person than he is a dog person because while he was out today he called and said that he found a puppy that somebody is selling along the side of the road. He said that the puppy looked like Jasper. I asked him to find out what kind of dog it is so he asked the man selling the puppy. "It is a white dog. " Ummm, ok...

I didn't get why a white dog would look like Jasper because Jasper is brown, so I asked Joel to let Kaleb look at the puppy. Joel is super smart but sometimes doesn't pay a huge amount of attention to details. I still don't know why Kaleb wasn't interested in looking at the puppy but I didn't get a good response. I thought of all the white dogs I have seen and couldn't picture a certain breed that would be sold here along the side of the street so I thought it might be better to just not get the puppy.

Well, a little bit later Joel called me laughing. He said that they met our friends (pastors here) for lunch and he was telling them about the dog and asked them if they knew of a breed known as "white dog". Then the pastors laughed and said that the man selling the puppy was telling them that this is a white man's dog...which in this culture I guess means an expensive dog.

It was funny that while they have no idea of the breed of this puppy they are absolutely certain that it is the perfect dog for any white folks who are living here in Lilongwe!

I am still hoping for the cat!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A month's cooking in a day?

Can I do this? I want to find out!

Several years ago (about 11) I tried this. I didn't really like the recipies in the book so I just made food that I usually cooked. I remember how nice it all smelled when I was cooking it up. I don't remember how exactly I did this as I had a 3 year old and twin one year olds. Hmmm... Well, it smelled really good when it was cooking but somehow when I took the food out of the freezer on the appointed day during the month the food had lost a lot of its appeal. We ended up throwing a lot of it out.

Well, I am going to try again (maybe)! I think that it will be easier now because I have lots of helpers with the chopping and cooking and cleaning up. I think that I know more about cooking now so I will know to not try to freeze potato dishes. It might turn out ok. Also, we have more mouths to feed now and if possible less money to spend on groceries so I am just about sure that we wouldn't throw it it or not!

We are storing our friends' freezer. They told us we could use it and I asked Joel if we could plug it in so I could see if I might save money doing the "cook everything in a month" method. I think that just making less trips to the store would be helpful with that. Also, I don't like to go to the takes time away from school and there is nothing fun to buy there anyways. If we find that we like to cook just once in a month and the food is tasty, we might purchase a freezer like this so we can keep it up.

I like the idea of less time in the kitchen cooking and doing clean-up during the month.

I still have to use meals that we normally eat instead of the good freezing recipes so this time I will obviously only freeze the ones that will freeze well (like the spaghetti sauce or ground beef already browned).

We will see how it works! If our dog gets fat and the children get skinny during the next month I will know that it was a failure and go back to our old methods.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Ok, have you heard the old joke about a missionary on the field for their first term throwing out their food with the bug in it, the 2nd term taking the bug out of the food, the 3rd term eating around the bug and the 4th term counting the bug as extra protien (or something like that...)? Well, I am on my 4th term as a missionary. Bugs should be easy by now, right?

Today I opened up this big bag of flour. We try to save money so I have started making bread and pancakes and desserts instead of buying bread, cereal or cookies. Ok, back to the big bag of flour. It is a huge bag. 10kg which is like 22 pounds.

So, Alissa and I opened up the bag of flour as we prepared to make 4 batches of bread. I was scooping the flour out of the bag and into my flour bucket when I noticed a black bug. Oops, how did that little guy get in there? Continued scooping...whoops...another bug? ones *and* white ones...those white ones are kind scary because they blend in. Ok, just one more scoop and Alissa and I realized that there was no way we could use this flour. In Jakarta I used to use flour with bugs after I sifted it. Why was I able to do something on my first term that totally makes me sick to my stomach now? Try explaining that to your husband..."didn't you used to just sift the bugs?" "Well, yes...I did...but that was back when if I didn't sift the bugs I didn't have any flour at all. Here I can find flour without bugs so I don't want to use flour with bugs if I dont' have to." I don't think he was convinced. To be honest, I don't know why I used to eat stuff made with flour that had bugs sifted out of it. Well, on the other hand, I bet that my sister wouldn't have had to see 10 bugs in her flour before she decided not to use it! Of course, she could return her flour to the they might just look at me funny and say, "What is the problem? Haven't you heard of sifting your flour? Why do you think they put that on the recipe???" Good question! But still...I don't care how long I have been a missionary, I am not going to use that flour!