Friday, May 20, 2011

Free to be Mii

We live in a very hospitable culture. I learn so much from these dear ladies with their generosity with their food, the cleanliness of their homes, and the time that they spend with each unannounced guest. Being a westerner, I am accustomed to schedules and purposeful meetings. So hospitality here is a learned art for me. In the past when guests came, my children would greet them and then run to another floor to do computer games, etc. I would then be left with my guest for about 2-3 hours by myself in our "salon" (like a fancy living room). I didn't like this because it made me feel like my life was split--take off the mom hat and put on the entertaining hat.

So now we do something a bit different. We try to include the guests into our lives, I want to wear the two hats at once. I know that sounds basic, but here the children are usually running outside while the mother is receiving guests. So if my child isn't outside kicking a soccer ball, I try to include them in. For example, playing the wii together! My young friend (pictured above), who used to be my tutor, created a cute little mii figure and got to know my kids better in the process. She was a bad Mario racer, but hey, we had a lot of laughs.
(I love the beauty mark that she wanted!)
In having this attitude of inviting people into our lives during tea time, it has released me from the nagging culture questions, "Is this how they do it? Am I offending someone by serving the tea with no mint? Am I doing this 'right?'" It has given me freedom to be me (or mii) and love them with the wisdom that I've asked for from above. He will be faithful to show me how to best serve...I can therefore enjoy the process.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New life on the balcony

We have new sprouts on the balcony!
For a science project, we are growing beans and corn. It's so exciting to see things grow!
Our book showed an elaborate watering system that I would have never thought of on my own. It works!
We are all drawn to the little sprouts--we measure and see who wins for the day. (I try to remind that winning is not dependent on the height but on the health of the plant. They do it anyway. Who taught them to be competitive?)
These are kumquat seeds that H is saving. She said, "I want to science them." I laugh. Last night at bedtime I sat on a kumquat seed that was split in half and green from having it's seed coat shredded off. I almost sat on a needle too! What was going on here? She giggles and said, "I scienced it." Ha ha! She must have been watching big sis DISSECT a crayfish and tried it in her own way. We laugh. Kids say the funniest things!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Couscous Friday

We enjoyed some chicken couscous today. We are able to get rice couscous, which I steam like they do above the rest of the chicken and vegetables. Today we had parsnips, zucchini, carrots, and potatoes with the chicken. Love that Fanta orange too. I would probably never crave it in the states, but with couscous it's yummy. (Plus the sodas here have just plain sugar in them and not corn syrup, I think that makes a difference.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Travels in Big Red

Traveling is an adventure here! Never a dull road! Here are some of the views on the beautiful trip to Patrick's work meeting.

Magnificent country washed with spring newness.
I held my breath when this guy did a curve!
A faithful shepherd
Our sturdy, 25 yr. old "Big Red" has been with us for almost 5 years. Lately she always seems to have some issues, though "fixed" by 2 different mechanics she is still shooting out exhaust through the air vents. "Windows down," was our motto. We always thank God when we reach our destination (which I should do anyway even if our car is brand new, right?).

E, in the way back of the car full of sleeping bags and backpacks, wrote this freewrite on "Riding in Big Red"

"Riding in Big Red is pretty comfortable except when things fall on your head and you aren't squashed between big bags and they actually think you can do school and you aren't. Jumping around burping up egg stuff waiting 'til you barf...other than that it's pretty comfortable."
(See the posting on the traditional breakfast to get a glimpse of the egg stuff!) Just so you know, he did not barf. Thirteen year old boys like to talk about that stuff though!

Traditional breakfast

Patrick had a work meeting on the other side of the country this past week. This allowed us the privilege of visiting one of our favorite expatriate families on the way, Patrick continuing to his meeting, the kids and I staying and visiting. We were blessed.
En route, it's a treat to eat traditional breakfast at the local cafe. This is a splendid glass of mint tea. Full of sugar, mint and green tea, it tastes a bit like doublemint gum. I love it (in moderation). The folks here drink it at least once a day, usually for afternoon snack or after a big lunch or anytime! It's a favorite.
This is an egg and dried meat mixture. The meat is kind of like a beef jerky (that's often dried on rooftops) but softens when cooked and mixed in oil. This is the closest we get to bacon and eggs. I like it (in moderation!). They love to dip fresh bread in it. Delicious. Note the fresh squeezed orange juice and black olives in the back. Doesn't this make you want to come and visit?