Thursday, February 27, 2014

Various and sundry, and the post that didn't post

Over the last week or so, I have tried only about a thousand times to upload a post that refuses to be published ... so, my apologies for the recent silence on the blog front - I really did try, though!

A couple of highlights from the last two weeks:

Valentine's Day package from Tiffany and the girls! (and I'm sure Luke was also heavily involved in the selection of candies and stickers and the making of cute crafty gifts for the kids... :) ) It arrived on the evening of the 14th, stuffed with goodies, and made our whole week. Never in my life have I made a tin of honey roasted almonds last this long ... and it's *still half full!!*

And a week later, we (along with most of the other parents here) had A CHILD FREE DATE NIGHT!  Apparently we have the most thoughtful group of teenagers on earth living on station with us, because they planned a fundraiser evening involving not just taking kids for the evening and keeping them fed and entertained (hey, I'd settle for just keeping them *alive* if it meant an evening at home to ourselves!), but they also cooked for each couple and delivered a hot and delicious meal to our homes so we didn't have to cook or clean up after ourselves.  So, we enjoyed an amazing four-course, all-from-scratch meal complete with cake and chocolate dipped strawberries for dessert, in the comfort of our own home, without ONE SINGLE INTERRUPTION in our conversation, no diapers to change or dishes to wash or crumbs to sweep up afterwards ... it was glorious.  (And yes, we were delighted to see our beautiful children again at 9pm when they were brought home for bed :) )

PNG power contributed to the romantic atmosphere by interrupting electricity provision for the evening..!

This last Saturday, we had our first skype date since getting here! We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the video (although we've since been warned by those more seasoned than we are not to expect that every time, ha), and LOVED getting to see four of our favourite faces again for the first time in a month and a half.
Since we pre-purchase our internet data in bundles and pay per MB of data that we use, we weren't sure whether it would be feasible to indulge in video calls.  However, every few weeks a 'double data day' is announced by our internet provider, when we can buy two data bundles for the regular price of one.  So we think we will be taking advantage of those days whenever possible, and are looking forward to 'seeing' some more of you over the next couple of months :)

On Sunday, Mark was on call at the hospital. While this wasn't necessarily a highlight of the week (!), the kids and I also had the opportunity to spend some time there for 'church'.  The highschool students (again - our teens rock!) planned a morning of praise and worship, Bible stories and prayer with patients, and invited anyone who was interested to participate. So a group of us met at the hospital and got to spend time on the wards, bringing church to patients.  This definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but is something I really hope to be able to do on a more regular basis.  It is one thing to pray for patients whose stories Mark shares with us at home (and I love that in this way we can affect the lives of those we can't physically be with) ... but sitting on the edge of someone's bed while his wife tells us he is dying of cancer and asks for prayers for strength - that's a little different.

So, that is some of what we have been up to in the last couple of weeks.  Also, lots of playing in the mud, taking care of 'our' kittens, Levi narrowly avoiding hospitalisation because of breathing difficulties, homeschooling with Anna, and inching our way closer to being a family of five extra-utero people!  (On which subject, we are hoping I deliver a little early since my doctor has to leave the country slightly before my due date.  If it doesn't happen there are several other doctors who could very capably deliver, but since Dr Bill was in the delivery room when Mark was born, we've been hoping he could be there for this one too! We'll see... only three more days till I'm officially term, woohoo!)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Back to normal, a little differently

Before leaving Tulsa, one of my prayer requests for the few weeks following our move was that I would be able to establish a new routine - a new normal - for our home life before the baby arrives and turns everything on its head again! :)  I am thankful to sit down at the end of the day and now be able to see routine as I reflect back on the last 14 or 15 hours.  (Actually, I'm thankful to just *sit down* at the end of the day, never mind reflecting on routines..!)

I think the biggest event enabling our home routine to become established was actually Mark starting at the hospital.  He and I have talked about our (or my) tendency since residency to treat his time at home as a rare treat not to be interrupted by things like chores and housework that could happen while he was gone - which, during residency, was pretty appropriate.  It has been difficult to shake that mentality even though he's home so much more now, and this can result in me slacking on taking care of the house purely because Mark is home.  They say that the mood of the house depends on Mama, which I definitely agree with, but I think at least in our home the presence or absence of structure depends a lot on how structured Mark's hours are. And now that he has a regular work pattern established, our home routines are also falling into place, which makes our home a much better place to be :)

So, here is a little glimpse into what that routine looks like...

My day starts a little after 7 when Mark's alarm goes off.  We get up and have coffee together, and I get some time with these two before the kids get up around 7:30/ 7:45 -

I don't know anything about John Baillie, but his little book of morning and evening prayers is fantastic.  The simplicity and foundational truth that characterises his prayers is a beautiful way to ground my day before it truly gets started.

Between whenever the kids wake up and about 9am, we have breakfast, Mark leaves a bit before 8, I start the laundry so it has time to wash and line dry before the afternoon rain, fill up the water filter so we have drinking water for the day, get the breakfast dishes washed, kitchen wiped down and floor swept so we don't collect any ants, get everyone dressed, check my meal plan and start thawing meat for dinner, and cast a quick eye over Anna's lesson plan for the morning.

I try to start school by 9am. Try :)  We're having fun with our science class right now - we're looking at the human body, and I found this little guy at a consignment sale -

- all of his squishy organs come out, you can take apart his skeleton and muscles ... we like him!  We've been looking at digestion the last week or so, and made little ziploc bag stomachs into which we crumbled chips (our morning snack), mixed with water (saliva) and some vinegar (stomach acid). Then we smooshed the bags in our hands while we ate our own snack (to mimic the muscles in the stomach wall doing the same thing to our real snacks), and got to see what our food looks like once the stomach is done with it :)

School is done by 10 or 10:30. Snack time!  Then the kids go outside to play so I can get some housework done.  Usually our neighbour Reegan is ready to play too, and I can count on finding them anywhere from up in the lemon tree to under our house in the dirt to building our (apparently) adopted stray cat a nest behind the workshop by our house.

If life gives you lemons, just ... eat them?

While they are outside, I hang the laundry out to dry, get some housework done and do any dinner prep that I need to.  At some point it's likely that Wapi, our door-to-door asparagus salesman will come knocking.  He is a very sweet older man who started out selling asparagus to missionaries on the station, but has since added cherry tomatoes and cabbages to his bag of goodies.  I get to practice talking Pigin to him, and he can pretty much count on my business since buying veg on my back porch is MUCH easier than a trip into town if I'm running out! And on Thursdays, our garden mari (= lady who works in the garden) Beti comes over for a few hours to take care of our little plot behind the house. Right now it's in such an overgrown jungle state that she's just hacking back weeds, but soon Mark will be able to plant and harvest to his heart's content.

Our plot is that knee-high stretch of weeds between the tree stump and the cleared patch of ground in the background, to the right of the tall Taro plant.  Yes, Beti has her work cut out for her..! :/

Mark gets home for his around 12:15, which is AWESOME, and is home for almost an hour.  It is so fun to hear the kids playing outside and suddenly yell "Dadaaaa!!" as he comes walking down the path from the hospital :)
He leaves around 1pm, I clean up lunch, and put the kids down around 2.  Once they're down it's usually time to bring in my loads of laundry, and then I sit down and catch my breath!  This is my time to read, catch up on facebook and emails, write the next few weeks' lesson plans for Anna...

When the kids get up they take their snacks out onto the porch and then often disappear for an hour or two, especially if the 'neighbourhood' kids are out playing after school gets out :)  (Anna has taken to keeping an eye on our windows any time she's inside, just in case "the girls" are out playing together and she's missing out. There are about half a dozen other MK girls all under about 12, and she has been quickly absorbed into the group!)

Mark typically gets home around 5pm, depending on whether any labouring women or emergency cases arrived at the hospital towards the end of the day. By this time I've usually started making dinner, since (mostly) everything needs to be made from scratch. There are some 'cheater' meals that I can buy premade sauces for, like spaghetti, and yes I have introduced a weekly spaghetti night to our menu ;) (Although I haven't found garlic bread anywhere so that still gets made from scratch, doh.)

 My little sous-chefs :)  And the quiche they helped me make, which surprisingly was a hit even though they don't love eggs (except Mimi's devilled eggs!) and definitely saw at least half a dozen go into the filling!

There is often a power outage later on in the day, which can be just ten or fifteen minutes long, or last from mid afternoon till bedtime.  (Or sometimes things get shaken up a little and it's out in the morning. Or both, or not at all!) When the power goes out we also lose water, since the pump is electric, and I've been caught out a few times by being lazy with the dinner dishes/ bathtime routine/ laundry etc, and then losing my chance to do them at all!

Kids go down around 8/8:30, and by about 10pm we're ready too..! And there you have our typical day.  (Or at least, the household half of the day.  For what Mark is doing during all this time, you can read his awesome blog here) :)

Since there are limited, um, social opportunities in the middle of the mountains, getting together with other missionaries for dinner is a popular event.  We also happen to live right next to the bonfire area for this end of the missions station, and cookouts happen at least weekly.  Mark and I have also discovered the 'lending library', which is a wall of books and DVDs in the mail room here that are available for borrowing.  So we've started a weekly movie date night to work our way through the collection - can't remember when that was last (or ever!) a part of our relationship..!

So, although our routine is quite different now, it has begun to settle into place.  It is simpler in some ways than when we lived in the States, funner in some ways and more difficult in others.  But it is here, and for that we are thankful!  Thanks for taking the time to read through this post that turned out to be much lengthier than I intended, and for sharing in a little of our day to day life.