July 28, 2013

intervention needed

I have a serious illness. I'm not sure if there is a cure. It's called mommybagitus. I started developing symptoms about 4 years ago, and it's just gotten worse.

To the point of needing an amputation.

My symptoms were so severe, that in a store today I realized the sad truth; I need to see help. I need intervention.

Help me.

In no particular order, here is what makes up the 80 pounds I carry around daily:

1 spiral notebook
1 thriving Family magazine
1 pair sunglasses
1 child's photo book
1 package dried apricots
1 container teddy grams
1 bag cinnamon bears (in my defense these have only been in since yesterday)
1 medicated nasal spray
1 saline nasal spray (I recommend this over the medicated one. In case you were wondering.)
1 play phone
2 packs of crayons
1 car, 1 tractor and 3 trucks
2 baggies of treats
4 baggies of snacks
1 set Wikki Stix (if you have children you NEED wiki stix. Trust me.)
1 package Ricola drops
1 package thank you cards
1 journal
4 go go squeeze
2 clean, empty baggies (you never know when you'll need one)
4 packages of emergen-C
1 red robin card
3 pens
1 hand sanitizer bottle
5 dinosaurs (2 blue, 2 green, 1 yellow)
1 pack sticky notes
2 diapers
1 diaper cream
1 pack diaper wipes
1 onsie
1 short-alls
1 pair little girl panties
1 mac power adapter
4 tampons
1 chapstick
1 mac lipstick
1 travel Advil (for all the back pain I have carrying all this crap around)
2 hair ties
1 small Bible
1 fat handful of tissues
1 hairbrush
1 broken clip-on earring (this one baffles me. Never saw it before.)
1 bacon mold ice cube tray (I'm not kidding)
1 pile of papers, receipts, and old church bulletins
and, one the very bottom, 1 wallet

In my defense we've done nothing but travel for the past month and a half.

I know. I'm pathetic.

After taking everything out though, I am proud to tell you that for at least the next 10 minutes all that is in my purse is the diapers, wipes, tissues, sunglasses, and wallet (and all the little girly necessities in the little zipper pocket.

Just one more reason that motherhood has been training me for the Spartan.
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July 24, 2013

how to teach preschool in the jungle

I have so many friends with small children who worry that they aren't teaching their children. They're not reading yet. Not counting yet. Not doing long division yet. 

They fret over not having a curriculum or a program or a plan. They don't think they can do it.

Chin up, Mamas! Put aside your reservations and hesitations and listen to me: YOU CAN DO IT! You CAN teach your children! Without them even realizing it. And you don't need anything fancy to do it. I promise.  

The following ideas are mostly things I do in our own jungle preschool. Some are things I can't do in the jungle btut wish we could. If I can do preschool in the jungle, you can do it anywhere! 

1. Read, read, read to your child! Read books, newspapers, magazines, cereal boxes, road signs, words to songs, and more books. Become friends with the librarian. Build your own mini library (I love thrift stores and yard sales!).

2. Go outside. Make patterns with pinecones, leaves, and rocks. Use flowers to teach colors. Make shapes out of blades of grass or sticks. Count bugs. Make leaf rubbings. Start a rock collection. Or a leaf collection. Or if you're really brave, a bug collection. 

3. Cut up old magazines. Cut out words and letters. Cut out pictures of animals and people. Make up stories with the pictures. Glue letters or words onto paper. Let your toddler practice cutting and glueing with the rest of the magazine. 

4. Buy basic art supplies*. Children love art! Let them paint, color, stamp and draw when you can't think of anything else. Color on cheap paper plates. Paint rocks. Use dry-erase markers on the mirror. Cut up colored paper into squares and let them glue them into a design. Make yourself an art box of supplies, recycle things from around the house visit the dollar store. Empty cereal boxes have hidden canvases inside them. 

5. Print off ABC printables. Look on Pinterest, there are so many good sites out there dedicated to free preschool printables. Print them off, put them in plastic page protectors and into a notebook. Bam. A writing book. Use dry-erase markers for endless fun. 

6. Look in your pantry. Put baking soda in a pan and let them use a dropper to drip food coloring and vinegar into the baking soda. Use cornstarch and colored water to make goo. Make your own bubbles. Make your own play dough. Make your own modge-podge. Again, Pinterest is your friend when you need ideas.

7. Make cookies. Make bread. Make ice cream - you don't need a fancy ice cream maker. Let the kids do the scooping and pouring and measuring. Talk about it. You just might teach fractions without realizing it. This whole, half, quarter thing is an early math skill they can totally get. 

8. Teach things like alliteration, opposites, and rhyming using what you find in your house and yard. They will not only think you're the most clever person alive, but they will think it's hilarious. Find a bunch of items beginning with the same letter and make up a story using them. They won't even know they're learning. 

9. Study your child. What are their interested? Do they love animals? Google them and learn about them. Do they love music? Listen to as many different kinds as you can think of. If they love cars, use painter's tape on the floor to make roads and parking lots for red cars, blue cars, etc. Use their interests to your advantage. 

10. Make a play area. You don't have to spend a lot of money on a play kitchen if you have cardboard boxes and markers. Or shop at yard sales or craigslist for deals. Try goodwill for dress-up clothes or premie baby clothes for a dolly. Use an end table for a tool bench. Put clean,empty food containers on a low bookshelf and they have a store.  Children learn through play. Play with them. 

11. Be kind. Teach your child to look for opportunities to help others. Write cards to people to encourage them. Buy flowers for a neighbor. Leave a note in the mailbox for the mail person. Cheer up elderly in a nursing home. Deliver a meal to a new mama. Get creative. Teach them early on to be on the lookout for ways to spread cheer. 

12. Now put it all together. You can do a few things each day, or just one thing a day. Start with A and work to Z. Or start with red and work to purple. Or put all the letters in a jar and let the child pick out the letter to work on each day. Don't set expectations. Have fun and let your child go at their own pace. If you set out supplies to make a butterfly and they end up with something resembling a dead dragon, it's ok. If your child is having fun they are learning. 

*Our art supply box includes:
Washable watercolor paints
Washable tempra pants
Extra paint brushes
Washable crayons (thin and fat)
Washable markers (thin and fat)
Dot markets
Washable stamp pads
Glue sticks
Glue bottles
Glitter glue
Colored pencils
Loose glitter
Magnets to stick on projects
Empty toilet paper tubes
Old scratched CDs
Construction paper
Coloring books
Collect things as you go. You don't have to get everything at once. 

Early childhood education doesn't have to be ridged and structured. You can use what you have where you are. 
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July 23, 2013


I am running a race.

A few weeks ago my sis-in-law told me she wanted us to run the Spartan Race with her. My first thought, yeah right! Then I went online and started watching the videos. And I kinda wanted to do it. Then I really wanted to do it.

But then I got sick, and I couldn't train. Boo.

So with 2 weeks before the race she needs to know - are we in or out?

The Spartan isn't really about running. Yes, you run, but it's more of an overall strength kinda thing. You crawl up a muddy hill with barbed wire above your head. You climb up walls. You move heavy objects.

I kind of feel like motherhood has prepared me for this moment.


So we agreed and began running and strengthening our muscles. I ran a mile yesterday, did 30 pushups (on a low wall, come on now, I haven't done a push up since high school), 30 sit-ups and 30 jumping jacks.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a tad bit sore.

Ok, maybe a lot bit sore.

For those who don't know, I've had several hip rebuild surgeries, my latest being a total hip replacement. It was a long and hard recovery because of the damage to my hip. I have hip dysplasia and my bones just kinda wear away, and I needed a hip replacement at 20, I waited until 29. By the time my doc got in there, it was unrecognizable as a hip joint. It was pretty bad. The recovery was seemingly endless.

But, here I am. Recovered.

And for the first time in just about my whole life, I'm able to run. Well, "able" is a relative term. Running is not intuitive to me. I can't just hit the road and take off running. I still at times have to go through the steps of how to walk in my brain. Even walking isn't 100% intuitive to me. Running is a new challenge.

Ever since I knew I was getting a new hip it had been my dream to run a marathon. Post surgery I've been advised by every health professional not to take up running. So my goal has gone from marathon, to half-marathon, to a 5K.

Enter the Spartan.

I'm only going to run one race. That's it. Just to be able to say I've run a race. But not just to say it, to do it. So I can know I can do it. If I'm going to run, it might as well be a good run.

So, August 4th I will be at the Spartan Race in Washougal, Washington. Running. I won't be first. I won't even be in the top percentage of finishers. My goal isn't to win. It's to finish. Even if it takes me all day, I'm going to finish. I'm not in the physical shape I wish I was in, but my hip is strong and so is my will. I'm determined. I'm excited. I'm a bit of a dreamer.

This is the year for making dreams come true.
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July 15, 2013


Since we have been asked, I'm posting this list we made while we were in Paruima of things we wished we had. We will be shipping some more barrels and will have lots of luggage to fill. 

Kitchen Items:
  • Nice knife set (chef knife, paring knife, bread knife)
  • 2 x air bake cookie sheets
  • Hot pads/trivet 
  • Airtight storage containers
  • Metal dish drainer 
  • 3-5 cup measuring cup
  • Knitted dish rags
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Strainer
  • Under-counter paper towel holder
  • Grinder (for grinding nuts/seeds/etc)
  • Rolling pin
  • Tortilla press

Home Items:
  • Good clothes pins
  • Lighter wands
  • Floor rugs
  • Good laundry line
  • Welcome/mud mat
  • Dr. Bronner's
  • 12v LED home lightbulbs
Food Items:
  • Almond/cashew/soy butter (NO peanut butter)
  • TVP
  • Powdered soya milk
  • Pure maple syrup 
  • Treats
  • Nuts (NO peanuts)
  • Egg replacer
  • Brewer's/Nutritional Yeast
  • Powdered buttermilk
  • Brown rice
  • Freeze dried fruits and veggies
  • Tortillas
  • Dried fruit
  • Vanilla extract 
Children's Wish List:
  • Coloring books
  • Construction paper
  • Black socks
  • Children's aviation headsets
  • Children size garden tools
Preschool Wish List:
  • Left-handed scissors 
  • Preschool printing paper
  • Art supplies
  • Writing notebooks
  • Dry/erase board and markers
  • Activity books
  • Craft supplies

Outdoor Wish List:
  • Hummingbird feeder
  • Garden tools
  • 2 + adult camp chairs
  • 2 + children camp chairs
  • Weed wacker
  • Outdoor toys
  • Hose

Medicine Box Wish List:
  • Throat Coat tea
  • throat drops
  • First aid spray for pain/cuts
  • Emergency medicine supplies
Mechanic Wish List:
  • Engine pull cords
  • Carburetor rebuild kits
  • Air filters
  • Spark plugs
  • Spark plug tester
  • RPM meter
  • Tachometer 
  • Cylinder piston ring compression tools
  • Valve spring compression pliers 

Misc. Wish List:
  • New MacBook Pro cover
  • Filter cloth 
  • Underwater caulking/glue 
  • Rechargeable AA and AAA batteries 
  • Honda generator 
  • Solar attic fan (12 v)
  •  Tarps
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Computer speakers
  • Extra batteries or battery grip for 6D
  • Rain cover for 6D
I also have an amazon.com wish list started if you care to see it.
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July 8, 2013


Here are my top 10 excuses for not blogging:
1. Children
2. Traveling
3. Children
4. I've had a cold
5. Children
6. Laziness
7. Children
8. Traveling
9. Children
10. Children

Actually, there are 11 excuses. My more valid excuse is that I'm using the time I would be blogging to write. I'm writing... I'm writing (this is almost painful for me to admit) - I'm writing a book! Gah! It's something I've always said I want to do someday. And here I am, fulfilling my dream!

I'm going to try to write more on my blog, but in the meantime, know I'm spending good time writing a book I hope you will enjoy someday. :)

Also, I found this last bit of journal from the jungle:

May 16
I am home in Paruima. We brought out a GALLON of ice cream and chocolate sauce. It was such a delight to see everyone's excitement! 

May 22
Me: "What did the bat do when he fell on the ground?"
Millie: "Just sat there."
Me: "For how long?"
Millie: "I don't know. About a half hour."
Me: "What was he doing?"
Millie: "Just sitting there. Hanging out."
Me: "What did he do when he got up?"
Millie: "Just flew around, checking things out."

I haven't journaled since we returned from our last trip to town. Let's see - in the past week we've been doing our thing - teaching our classes, Todd has fixed the tractor again, repaired some buildings, and done some general maintenance things. I now wash all laundry by hand (cloth diapers included. Ew.). We're starting to prepare for our trip back to the States. It's baffling how quickly the time has passed. 

May 27
Salt and toothpaste. The breakfast of champions. Or toddlers who are up before parents. Sigh. 
We have been sick here. Though I am feeling much better today, I am weak from not eating the last 2 days (I tried, I promise. I did nibble on toast and the chicken noodle soup Hubs made). I missed a trip to the beautiful falls that my family went to, along with all the other missionaries here. We will try to go again next weekend. 
Now I have the task of getting the house back in order after 2 days of being in bed. 
Today I begin packing. We are leaving Paruima in 10 days. I think we're all in denial. I can't believe that in 2 weeks from today we'll be in the States again. I can't believe how quickly this trip went, and how much I'm already looking forward to returning. So much has happened in the short 4 months we've been here. I pray our time in the States is short and passes quickly. We hope to be back in Paruima in September for classes. 
Our sloth has visited us again, though he was quick to climb trees this time. :) I love seeing him!

Millie had her first bee sting today. Let the records show that all involved survived, even if only barely. 

May 28
Millie just discovered Sam's spine, so we were talking about it. 
Me: Everybody has a spine.
Millie: Everybody?
Me: Well, all humans. All people have spines.
Millie: Even boys???

Millie to Sam: You're such a clever little boy.
Millie to me: I leaned that from you. 

I would write what Sam says, but mostly it's a lot of dancing around and talking about airplanes, frogs, and tractors. Such a little boy. :) He's currently running in circles naked. 

It is Tuesday and I have been sick since Friday night. I'm officially over the whole being sick thing. Wish my body would get the memo. It's getting old fast. 

May 29
Millie brought me flowers in hopes that they would make me feel better (my first bouquet from her!) last night - and it worked! I was able to get back to my class today and start to regain control over the house (that part is going to take a few days). Sigh.

May 30
I gave my students a test today. It is so discouraging looking at them. My kids are great, they're the cream of the remedial crop - but oh man… teaching - or rather them learning - certainly isn't happening overnight. 

I'm struggling with failing. It seems to be constant. It's wearing me out. I'm getting a little caught up with the if-only's. If only I had more energy. If only my kids could pick up their messes. If only… Sigh. If only I had time to write without children climbing on me…

May 31
Sometimes, every once in a while, about once a month, I feel like a rockstar mom. This afternoon for snack, I made popcorn, served leftover juice, and shared a bit from my cadbury bar. Might not sound impressive, but it certainly rocked with my kids. Now, I would be washing the dishes (they've piled up since breakfast) but we have no water. The husband is up working on something up there, so I'm guessing (hoping) that he's just disconnected something. I found out the water was off after Millie called me up for a wipe. Oops. 

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