Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Happy Birthday Sadie Bug!

Happy.  It's the best way to describe my girl.  She is happy every day!  She is happy to watch her brother and sister play.  She is happy to go outside and play.  She is happy to sit inside and play.  She is happy to be held.  She's happy to crawl around!  She's just happy!

This year has flown.  She has been such a joy to have around, it hasn't felt long.  Every day has been delightful with her.  I'm serious!  She is so sweet it's just fun to have her here.  She is affectionately known around here as, "Say Say", "Sadie Bug", "Bug Bug" and "Sister."  The kids call her Say Say which is so cute!  They love having a little sister.

Ellee at the top, SK on the bottom - both on their first birthday!

Over the past month and a half, she's really increased what she'll eat.  For the longest time she was surviving off breastmilk and Cheerios.  Now she eats lots of things!  Her favorite food is pasta, hands down.  She eats more pasta than I think is good for her.  I have to make her stop and she cries about it.  She has four teeth and two more on the way in.  I see the very beginnings of molars back there, too.  She really does a number gumming food without many chompers.  I imagine she'll be ready for steak once those molars get through.  Teething hasn't been much of a battle, thankfully.  Breastfeeding, on the other hand, hasn't been as easy!  You'd think on the third kid, it would be.  But we've hit a few bumps in the road this year.  I had what felt like the makings of an infection a few weeks back.  After some anti-inflammatory meds, lots of heat and water, and many prayers, it went away.  Nevertheless, she's still nursing 6X a day and, while she isn't exactly a settled nurser, she does so love her baby milk.

She's sleeping on her own through the night finally.  She slept great the first six months of the life.  Then she discovered how to sit up on her own, and that was the end of her good sleeping.  When we got back to Africa, we did baby boot camp.  After a few rough nights, she gave up and realized she was going to have to sleep eventually.  It's been smooth sailing from there.  She sleeps twice during the day and 11-12 hours at night.

She doesn't really want anything to do with walking yet.  She's happy to crawl and she pulls up on everything.  She climbs up on things.  She just doesn't want to let go and stand alone or attempt any wobbly steps.  I'm ready for her to walk -- crawling clothes are so dirty all the time.  Going outside is difficult because there isn't much space that isn't rocky or soil.  But I'll have to be patient because walking is not something you can force!

In August, I took her to New York with my mom and me.  It was so special to spend a few days just with her.  She's a great side kick!  I put her in the sling and carried her all around and she loved it.  In a few weeks I'm taking her to the Lesotho Missionary Ladies retreat.  I'm looking forward to spending more quality time together.

I feel it deserves noting that she has traveled around the world in her first year of life!  When she was just a week old, she spent a morning at the Indian Ocean.  In April, she played in the Atlantic Ocean.  Then in July, she dipped her tiny toes in the Pacific Ocean.  I din't see her making it to the Arctic anytime soon, but three out of four ain't bad for a one year old!  She has more frequent flier miles than most adults I know!  She's a super traveler.

We started her birthday with a french toast breakfast.  I made a cake yesterday in honor of one of her favorite things -- sheep!  She loves to watch the herds go by our house every day.  Sometimes she sits out by the gate and watches them pass.  I hunted for a birthday gift for her while we were in South Africa last week, but came up short.  I couldn't find what I was looking for and didn't want to just waste money on something.  I'll keep hunting for a doll house for her for Christmas.  In the meantime, she'll have to just enjoy a toothbrush and toothpaste instead.  I know she will because she loves to brush her teeth.  She follows me around when I am brushing my teeth grunting and pointing and groaning for my toothbrush.  Now she has one of her own!

A recap of SK's first year :

On her true birthday

Passport photo

Snug as a bug in a rug

Cuddling with Joy

One month

Traveling to America -7 weeks old

Three months

Four months

Five months

Six months

Seven months

Eight months

Nine months

NY trip 

Ten months

Eleven months

12 months!

You are just the happiest, Sadie girl.  I love the way you smile with your tongue.  I love how much you love people!   I love every bit of you!  Happy first birthday!


Monday, October 24, 2016

Scratch That! Cooking Adventures in Africa

"What do you eat over there?"  It's a question we are constantly asked in various forms by folks from home.  We often get groups of Americans or other westerners coming through Mokhotlong on mission teams.  After any amount of time here, they quickly discover the limited selection of groceries.  Our standard answer is that we eat like most Americans do, well the Americans who cook that is, with a few modifications based on our circumstances.  So I thought I'd give all of you interested blog readers a window into what goes on our dinner table on any given night.  Welcome to my new series, "Scratch That! Cooking Adventures in Africa" where I will share details about cooking for a family of five in the mountains of Lesotho.

I typically make up our meal plans on a monthly basis.  I'm not quite organized enough to just make up a few monthly plans and rotate them.  Actually I'm not sure if it's a lack of organization.  It's more the idea of something so regimented that turns me off.  Sometimes I have a hankering for a particular meal and might want to make it more regularly than every couple of months.  I incorporate many of our favorites into my monthly plan.  We almost always have a pizza night once a month and invite our neighbors or some other friends.  I try to include a few meals which will feed more than just our family so we can invite friends regularly.  It's part of our life here and we love having folks into our home.

This is how we get most of our groceries.  In short, we go to South Africa and buy everything we can't get here in Mokhotlong.  Then we cram it all in Rocky and drive up the mountain pass to get it to the fridge ASAP (usually about 4 hours drive).

Recently we had Sloppy Joes for dinner.  I make my mom's recipe because it's comfort food to me and everyone likes it.  The only modification I make is grating some zucchini into the ground beef and sautéing it up together.  Once you add the sauce, you can't even tell there are veggies in the mix.  It stretches the meat and adds something healthy!  One of the things I miss while living in Africa is fluffy buns.  Seriously, I cannot find buns as light and fluffy in South Africa as I can at Aldi.  They are advertised as "crispy buns" and they live up to their title.  So, I used to make the buns myself.  Then we discovered a little bakery right here in Mokhotlong which sells really nice buns.  They are more dense and a tad bit sweeter than traditional American hamburger buns, but they are fresh and cheap. And that's one less thing I've got to make myself. We frequent the bun shop.  Usually when we go they are sold out.  They tell us they'll bake more and Jono almost always has return later in the day to grab them for dinner.

To go with Sloppy Joes, I made cole slaw and I cooked some cob corn.  I make slaw by finely shredding cabbage with a knife.  Cabbage is ridiculously cheap here.  I bought a half of a big head for about $.35.  Although you can buy cabbage here in Mok, I always buy mine down in South Africa because it is already cleaned and I take all the help I can get.  Then I shred some carrots and today I finely chopped some red pepper.  I make a simple dressing using mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar.  Then I add some salt and pepper and my special ingredient --- mustard seeds.  I love mustard seeds and the little kick they give.  I spring for the Hellman's mayonnaise which, being imported, is significantly more expensive than the stuff they manufacture here.  Some things are worth it.  In my opinion, good mayo is one of those things.

I have learned a lot about planning ahead since being here.  Rural living has done that for me.  I'm truly grateful for all the knowledge and experience I've gained in the kitchen by being forced to think through and learn all things cooking!  If it can be scratched, I've probably scratched it.  If I haven't tried it yet, I'm planning on trying it soon.  No home ec. course in the world could touch this gig!


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Drizzly Day

Today has been overcast and cool.   I've never appreciated rainy days like I do now.  Most days here are sunny and clear blue skies.  We can go weeks without a drop of rain.  A true rainy day is very special.  I don't let one pass without making the most of it!

I spent the day defusing my new spicy oils I found in South Africa this week.  The weather felt like it could pass for fall.  Orange, clove and cinnamon oils made the house smell like it, too.  I love this spot in my house.  I keep that tea pot filled with water so whenever I walk by and the defuser is off, I can just refill it with water and select a new oil to brighten my day.

After I finished school with Kyle this morning, I decided to make some homemade creamer.  It is vanilla cappuccino flavor.  I tested it on my husband and my friend, MaMopeli.  They both approved. Since flavored creamer is not a thing in this part of the world, I was happy to make a suitable substitute.  Why did it take me four years to dream that up?

This afternoon I made granola.  I grew up eating this yummy stuff but haven't made it myself since living here.  Actually, I'm not sure I've ever made it myself.  Until now, my mom always supplied me with it.  Thanks, Mom!  While we were home, I watched her closely so I could make it myself.  It's delicious and pretty, too.  I bagged some up to share with my neighbor.

Before I got the kitchen tidied up from granola, I went ahead and put together the components for meatballs.  We had barbecue meatball subs with corn and carrots for dinner.

I went out and picked some greenery from my yard to decorate the table.  The roses were a gift from Kyle while we were in South Africa.  Aren't they lovely?  That boy loves to give gifts.  I like a pretty table.  It makes me happy.

During nap time I altered the duvet for Ellee's new bed.  We bought her a toddler mattress while we were in South Africa.  Soon our friend will build her a base for her mattress to get it up off the floor.  I'll post pictures when it's all finished.  I had a duvet for a single bed, so I just tucked and tied and sewed it to fit a smaller blanket I already had to stuff inside.  I think it turned out well.  It should keep her snuggly warm since it's real down feathers.  She loves it because it's pink.

Everywhere I went today, this little slice of happiness was with me.  She's such a tasty treat.  I can't believe she'll be one next week!  Stay tuned for a sappy post about how much I adore this little doll.  

Make the most of your rainy days.  You'll get a lot done!  I have walked three and a half miles just in my own home today.  Now I have drizzly rain to lull me to sleep.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Stepping Out

For the first two years we lived in Mokhotlong, I completely avoided going out alone.  Occasionally I would consider going for a walk or a jog alone but always decided against it.  I was nervous about what kinds of situations I would run into by myself.  We attract a lot of attention here for obvious reasons.

Finally I decided I had to just get over it.  No matter how badly I wished it would happen, I wasn't going to blend in.  But I needed to be able to step out and move around by myself.  There had to be some kind of outlet for me to have some alone time.  Because Mokhotlong is so isolated, there really isn't much to do here.  I visit with a lot of people and I play a lot of games with my kids.  Getting time alone is something I have to work towards.

Don't get me wrong.  I love people.  I love the people here.  It just gets old not being able to go unnoticed.  Jogging is not a thing in Mokhotlong.  No one does it.  Oh, there is a ton of foot traffic.  The majority of people walk for transportation.  But no one is running unless they are in a serious hurry or someone is hurt.  I knew running by people would win me even more looks.  I imagine people are looking behind me and wondering what on earth I am running from.  But I simply smile, wave and act like it is normal; because to me it is normal.

Sometimes people stand in my way just to make me to stop so they can ask what I am doing.  Children are particularly difficult to ward off.  They want high fives and hugs (which I give) and sweets (which I don't give) and run along with me until they get tired or bored.  It always makes me smile!  Yesterday a whole group of kids swarmed me and were just giddy that I decided to stop and take their picture.  Since people always want pictures of us, I thought I'd turn the tables on them.  They continued on with me a ways, holding my hands.  I don't know these kids but they don't live far from my house.  Really it is hard to understand why they are so fascinated by us white people.  Aside from our differing skin, we are just people like they are.  But I'm pretty fascinated with them, too.  They're sure cute!

So much sass

It's not a bad place to get your steps in.  9026 today and counting.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Airing My Dirty Laundry

There is something about laundry that I enjoy.  I like a task that can be completed simply.  I like routine.  Possibly too much.  I do laundry on Mondays and Thursdays.  It's been this way for a long time.  Back in my dryer days, I used to get away with doing laundry once a week.  I could divide loads and conquer it within a day - washed, dried and put away.  Having to hang it all on the line takes a significant amount of time, though, so I prefer to split it up now.  

I'm not always this happy as I hang laundry.  It's just that I was laughing that my mom was photographing me hanging Jonathan's underwear of all things.  As you can see, I often have company as I do my chores.

If you know me well, you may know that I can be a bit particular about things.  It's a blessing and a curse.  I have to make a conscious effort to relax and change my routine.  Like if it's raining on a Monday.... I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that it's okay -- I can, in fact, do laundry on a Tuesday.  

Typically, I sort laundry into two loads - lights and darks.  If I have towels and sheets, I'll do those separately.  I have a massive washing machine, so it works.  Once my machine is finished singing it's pretty little chime which tells me a load is finished, I pile it up in a basket and take it out to the yard.  I hang by person, oldest to youngest.  It makes me happy to see each person's laundry together.  Did I mention I can be a bit particular about things?  If it is freezing cold, however, I just throw it all up there.  The longer one handles wet laundry in the freezing cold, the colder one's hands become and the worse they hurt.  Ask me how I know.

While I am hanging laundry, I almost always have people passing by my fence going one direction or the other.  Many stop and stare.  It's as if they've never seen a woman hang laundry before.  Oftentimes women ask me if they can have a job and do my laundry for me.  I kindly decline and ask them what I would do if they took my job.  Others simply greet me, which I prefer to the previously mentioned scenarios, and pass on.  It's humorous to me how interested folks are in seeing me (us) complete the same tasks they complete, too. 

When it's all dry, I take it off and fold it as I go.  It takes time, but then it's all ready to go where it belongs when I get it back inside.  Plus, the wind is my friend and irons things very well.  I like to fold them so they stay smooth rather than stuffing them into a basket to fold some other time.  

I also employ the most adorable help.  When we came back to Mokhotlong last month, I hung a smaller line for Ellee to help me with socks and undies.  She's old enough now to pitch in, plus she likes a task.  She takes her job seriously.

When the water goes off, I wash by hand daily using river water.  I cannot get behind or the task is overwhelming.  Thankfully that doesn't happen too often.  I never appreciated a washing machine like I did when I first moved to Africa and didn't have one.  Laundry isn't so bad, really.  My motto is, "Just Do It!"