December 3, 2013

nice to meet you, i'm mrs. grumpypants

I asked my Facebook fans (really my friends, but it makes me feel special to insinuate I have fans. Ok, I didn't insinuate, I said it) what they would find interesting to read about our lives here. 

I read the responses. Really I did. But today isn't a day to write about the fascinating little bits about living in a 3rd-world-country. Now's not the time to share the darling little habits my neighbors - and all the coastlanders in Guyana - have. 

No, today is a day to lament and cry a little.

But just a little.

Today, for the first time, I wanted to go home. "Home"  as in the USA. We normally don't use the word "home" in reference to the States, because Guyana is our home now. But today it's feeling less like home and more like… hard. 

There is nothing earth shattering about my struggles here. Honestly, they'd probably follow me to the US if I decided to tuck my tail and whimper back to Oregon. I'm honest enough with myself to realize that. 

And I don't want to go back to Oregon. As much as I love it (shout out to the Pacific North West!), I have no desire whatsoever to live in the US. This summer on furlough over and over I heard, "Wow, you're so brave to raise your children in a place like that!" To which I reply, "I think families have to be brave to raise their children in the US!" 

And I'm not that brave. 

Raising children here isn't really all that different. These's just less secret chocolate for those moments when I need to hide in the bathroom and breathe deeply. There's a lot less STUFF. Toys, clothes, junk. My children have exactly 3 sets of toys (wooden blocks, kitchen toys, and cars) and a few other random toys. Oh yeah, good ol' Mr. Potato Head made the flight too. 

There's also a lot fewer modern conveniences here too. Things like take out, one-stop-shopping, and 24/7 electricity. 

Add in mosquitoes, 90 degree heat daily, no storage or organization in my house, and the result is Mrs. Grumpypants. Sigh. 

Tomorrow - or later this week - I'll start sharing more about our lives here. Tonight, I'm going to crawl into bed under the big net and read until sleep takes me away. 
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December 2, 2013

teach and play

A dear friend of mine asked me for ideas to do some early pre-school activities with her almost 2-year old. I wrote this post a while back about teaching preschool in the jungle, and lots of the ideas are the same, some are different. 

Honestly, at 2-years old, the most important thing is to make it fun, don't push it, and go at the child's pace. Children learn so much through play at this age. Simply sitting on the floor and building block towers/coloring/driving cars for 10 minutes is some of the best interaction you can give a toddler. Don't overthink it. Really. 

So, dear friend, and anyone else needing ideas, here you go:

Designate a table or shelf where you can collect items throughout the week. Themes would be colors (all red objects), nature (pinecones, leaves, etc.), shapes (all square objects), etc. 

Get a large rubbermaid that is about 8" tall. Like the ones made for storing things under the bed. This will be your sensory bin. The theme ideas are endless. Search Pinterest for ideas. My kids always loved the sensory bin.

Read, read, and read. When you're not reading, listen to audio stories/audio Bible/etc. Classical music and children's music is also great to have on while they're playing. Become friends with the librarian. 

Color, paint, mold, and draw. We always have an art box. Invest in as many art supplies as your budget allows. Water color paint, finger paint, crayons, markers, glue sticks, pipe cleaners, etc. etc. etc. Get washable everything. I stick with Crayola washable. Do art projects often. Pinterest is your friend. Construction paper, stickers, googly eyes, etc. Play dough is ridiculously easy to make. 

Have a variety of things available for little hands. Popsicle sticks, pom poms, pip cleaners, pony beads,  etc. Cut up construction paper in little rectangles to be "money." Kids can keep themselves busy for hours with the weirdest thing, no joke. Keep treasures like empty TP rolls, canisters they can use, etc. 

If you have a spare book shelf or 2, make a mini in-house store. Use empty packages from your kitchen. Let him stock the shelves, shop, buy things, bag things, etc. A play kitchen will also be a big hit. There are lots on Pinterest to make yourself. 

Play lots. Whenever anyone asks you what to get him for his birthday, Christmas, or just because, tell them you want learning/educational toys. Don't buy plastic, battery operated toys - go for the classic wooden toys. They'll last longer, you don't have to buy batteries, and they foster creativity. There are some awesome toys out there. Melissa and Doug, Plan Toys, Woodkins, etc. Don't underestimate the learning power of playing. 

Spend as much time outside as the weather allows. Play in the dirt. Play in the water. Play in the sand. Kids are washable. Own outside toys like gardening toys, trucks for the dirt, water toys, etc. Make a water sensory bin in the summer. Let him get dirty. Get dirty with him sometimes too. Make nature art. 

Feed him. Include him in the cooking process. Let him pour and mix and stir. Yes, it takes 8 times as long to cook with a toddler, but it's worth every minute. Talk to him about what your doing too. This is a good place for early math skills as well as fine motor development. 

Have fun, fun, fun.
Here is my Pinterest board for more ideas. 
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December 1, 2013

pinkie swear

I live in a world without Safeway, Krispy Kreme, and Starbucks. If I want something, I have to make it. If anyone ever needed Pinterest, it is me. 

After spending nearly a year in Guyana, I fancy myself somewhat a Suzy Homemaker. I can make almost anything - and usually I can make it well. My bread is quiet good. My cinnamon rolls are great. My tortillas are worth every labored minute. 

I am pretty handy in the kitchen, I'm organized(ish) in my house, I keep a dandy routine/schedule for my family, and I feed my family mostly healthy meals (minus my recent addiction to Snickers bars). 

I'm not gifted in any of the homemaking arts. None of this comes easy to me. In fact, a year ago I didn't know how to make soup. A year ago, I had no idea people could make virtually everything they [I] bought at Safeway. It has been a process, and I'm still a far cry from, say, reaching the culinary delights of my extremely talented sister. But I'm getting there. 

I am going to make an effort to write more about our lives here in Guyana and the things we do in everyday life that are things we'd never do in the States (like wade through 6 inches of rainwater, catch frogs in the washing machine, and make sure the bug net is tucked in). 

I'm haven't been goo about writing since we got back from furlough and moved to Georgetown, but here is my solemn promise to think about trying to write more. Pinkie swear. 

PS I just wrote a guest blog post here about putting more Jesus in Christmas. 
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