Up and Running Again

My sabatical is over. Funny how not having a computer (or the internet, specifically) is such a mixed bowl of fruit. On the one hand, I loved not feeling like I simply had to check email, news and blogs. I loved sitting down and working on crocheting tiny little yarn animals instead of being zoned in on a computer screen in the evenings. I loved sitting around wondering what to do with myself after the kids were in bed.

On the other hand, it was pretty stinky having to borrow laptops from friends late at night (although we were very grateful for their generosity!) just to do our homework for phonetics, which entailed mimicking videos posted online by our teachers. I also was a little embarrassed when I was told yesterday by my mother that the US stock market crashed almost a week and a half ago and the economy is reeling. Um, a little out of the loop over here…

Our sounds and symbols phonetics class ended yesterday. It was a lot of fun, and it was exciting to see that all the symbols that had looked so foreign to us three weeks ago are now as familiar as the back of our hands… well, I’m kidding, but they are definately more familiar.

Today we were introduced to “Form and Meaning”. This class was about communication. Communication is all about conveying a meaning to someone else, which can occur through verbal and nonverbal forms. Our teachers did a funny skit portraying communication difficulties between two different cultures. It is so interesting that what an individual does in one culture can be completely misunderstood in another culture.

For example, in our culture a firm handshake denotes confidence, warm friendship and goodwill (if it doesn’t descend into a squeezing match that ends when someone yells, “Mercy”). But in another culture, a firm handshake can indicate a display of power, ego and one-upmanship.

So, we must be careful that the form of communication we choose to use will actually convey its intended meaning. We must encode our message in a way that it is understood by the hearer. Since we as believers in Jesus Christ have a life changing message, it is important that it is delivered in a way that it can be understood! Just think about how God encoded His message for us: the incarnation. God became man so that His message of salvation could be fully understood by mankind. God submitted Himself to the laws of communication that He created- laws that demand that all messages (meanings intended to be understood by the hearer) must be wrapped up in a form of some kind.

Then, God chose to have His plan for mankind recorded in another form- written words. How important it is that we can understand that form of communication! Simply another reason why we must go– and not demand that people learn to speak our language in order to hear the Gospel. I think it is a principle that can be applied to the Church as a whole, ministering in any culture, including our own. You can take that where you want to go with it. I digress…

Here are a few pictures as a reward for waiting so long for me to blog.

Squeak found a furry little friend:Our tropical living room plant, affectionately named Mac, suddenly bloomed last week! We were startled and then very proud, of course. The blossoms opened at night and closed during the day. It smelled like extremely potent lilacs (no offense, Mac).

Our three little monkeys jumping on the bed (check out the hair!):


With little kids, a Valentine’s Day post is expected…

…and I won’t disappoint you.

Little Winnie wasn’t feeling too well yesterday, so as a precaution I kept the kids home today to keep my eye on the situation. It all worked out nicely for me to make sugar cookies with Squeak and Button. My mom had sent up a little cookie making care package, complete with many different kinds of sprinkles and cut-out cookie mix.

We made a couple special deliveries just before nap time. And we received a special delivery from one of their little friends!

Winnie stood right up to the little picnic table and got stuck standing there. Then she ate Cheerios while I helped the other girls decorate the cookies. I know, it all sounds so wonderful but let me tell you that although it was fun, I also had some tense moments when the sprinkles went flying, little fingers were being licked left and right, and hand-washing sessions in the bathroom resulted in soap up to the elbows and suds everywhere. All in all, the cookies were mostly germ-free and very cute.

Kitchen Snitchen

This week has been Scratch Cooking week here in our New Tribes training. Learning how to make at home many of the foods that we eat daily will be useful and often essential on the mission field. Plus, it is lots of fun! We had demonstrations and hands-on classes every morning this past week. Some of the things we saw made were the following: bread, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, crescent rolls w/ filling, pizza dough, crepes, waffles, donuts, tortillas, pie crusts, chicken pot pie, cheddar salmon pie, biscuits, ham and broccoli with biscuits on top, homemade salad dressings, yogurt, sour cream… oh boy, I know I’m missing a ton of things that we learned. Fortunately, we have a recipe handout booklet that we can refer to.

Next week will be fun and challenging. We are to take what we’ve learned this week and for five days we are not to use processed foods or convenience foods. Things like frozen anything (except meat), milk, juice (frozen or tetra-pack), store-bought bread, junk food are not to be used. We also are encouraged not to go to the grocery store for the week to simulate having to plan ahead when living in a remote location. Last night we went to the grocery store and bought our supplies for next week. I was pleasantly surprised at the grocery bill which was lower than I expected. Making things from scratch is inexpensive as well as more healthy- but the rubber meets the road when I consider the time involved and my lazy tendencies… 🙂 Anyway, we are ready to dive into our scratch week and all the culinary adventures it will bring.

Above: my newest kitchen friend: a pressure cooker! Make mashed potatoes in 15 minutes, start to finish!

Below: making “fried oatmeal” cereal: brown sugar, oatmeal and coconut fried in a wok with butter.

Making baby wipes: half roll of Bounty paper towel, 2 cups warm water, 2 TB baby oil and 2 TB baby wash. (Not for eating, silly)

Feeling Crafty

I must be adjusting to having three children: I’m feeling crafty and organizational again. Adding a new baby to the family takes a lot out of a person (no pun intended). I have noticed that it consistently takes me 8-10 months before I feel like I have enough energy and time to be organized. Well, actually, I’m never quite as organized as I’d like to be, but you know what I mean.

We’ve spent the last week organizing our home and getting rid of boxes that had been sitting around since we moved in. I still have a stack of four “junk and paper” boxes sitting in the closet here, but at least the upstairs is organized. We set up a guest bed in Winnie’s room, so now we have a bed waiting for our visitors when they come!

On New Year’s Day I was feeling particularly ambitious (hooray!), and I altered this bulletin board that Dennis had given me for Christmas. I used scrapbooking paper I had on hand and Modge Podge. I am a new fan of that stuff!

I was given a bread machine for Christmas (thanks P & B!). It made a wonderful loaf of bread last night- soft inside and the perfect crustiness on the outside. Yum…

Making Cards

Well, first order of business: no baby yet- 40 weeks, 3 days today. This morning I woke up pretty emotionally and physically frazzled, and Dennis’ parents kindly agreed to take the girls for a little while. We drove them half way and Mom E and Aunt Bee met us in the middle. Thank you!

This is Daddy’s reward for coming home from work! Button is about the cuddliest baby ever. She puts her head down like this for long periods of time. This time I think it was about 10 minutes.
In other news. I like to make cards. Today I worked on a few to give to a friend.

This is the inside of the card…

Credit and tutorial for the triangle folded card.