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Friday, December 31, 2010

More Christmas Hijinks

 This is the last of the Christmas memories. I promise. Then it's onwards and upwards as we face a New Year.

On Christmas Day we had a lovely lunch and invited friends over for a simple meal. I try to avoid as much work as possible on Christmas so I can relax and enjoy the day. Of course, simple food meant I was in the kitchen for 2 hours. Maybe I need to join an anonymous group of some sort...

 Don't be deceived. That looks simple but it was delicious and worth the work. Remember, everything has to be done from scratch here. Yes, that is homemade bread there.


How many of you are familiar with Jan Karon's Mitford books? This is Esther's Orange Marmalade cake. I bless the day Jan decided to share this recipe with the world and doubly bless the day my mom sent me the little gift book it was written in. I've made this cake for the past four Christmases and it is AMAZING!

We made seven different cookies this year (not all shown) and loved all of them! We were introduced to whiskey cookies by our volunteer, Summer, this year and they were fantastic. We did have to do some major substitutions because we didn't have all the ingredients but they will definitely be added to our cookie line-up each year.


A fun 'Christmas' activity this year was playing four-square. Here are the kids wearing the appropriate head gear.

Playing again after lunch. Tom got really competitive. We had to outlaw spikes and holding. And, yes, we have a four-square court drawn on our dining room floor. Doesn't everyone?

 And, finally, the requisite self portrait. The table behind me doesn't usually look like that. It's Christmas mess...I assure you...Let me distract you somehow.....Oh yes! Aren't you jealous that I got to wear a cute sleeveless shirt on Christmas Day?

Have a great New Year, everyone!

I'm playing along with a Friday Blog Hop for the first time. Welcome to any new visitors!
Smart and Trendy Moms

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It Came, It Finally Came!!

Name that movie!

Remember when I mentioned that gift exchange yesterday and how I hadn't received my gift or heard back about the one I sent?

Well, just a couple hours after I hit publish, Timmy and Troy walked down the the village center and found a package for me. Hooray!

Tania sent me the cutest hair bow. It made me wish for little girls with blond curls, again.  This is the kind of thing I wish I'd known how to make when my girls were younger. My blond daughter is all grown up now. Here she is modeling the bow.


I think I've found a way to make this work for our house though. Doesn't it look darling on the tree?

I would love to do a gift exchange again next year. It was fun and added some anticipation and surprise to Christmas which doesn't happen often once we enter the world of the 'grown ups'.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gifts From the Heart

This year we didn't have much money available for Christmas and since we are planning a trip to the U.S in January we decided to wait for then to do anything substantial for our big kids. Not having anything at all under the tree was not really an option for me though. I wanted the kids to be able to open something at least. 

Our current volunteer, Summer, also decided to get a little something for us and enlisted her mom's help in sending out some packages. 


She had a friend paint some T-shirts. My kids got some original ones made but I love mine the best. You have to be a Twilight fan or at least know something about the books to get this saying. I love it!!


I'm also wearing the gift that Jasmine made for me--a beautiful, green, blue and white bead bracelet. She has such a talent for creating art whether it is jewelry or cupcakes.


I wanted to make something special for each of my boys but homemade gifts for boys is hard! I made a bookmark for Timothy, a travel journal for Troy and crossstiched the above picture for Tom (it's a Tetris design--see?) but those were such small gifts. I really wanted to do something more. Then God reminded me of an old blanket that was in my craft room. 


It turned out to the the perfect size to make three scarves. Since we are going to be visiting the U.S in the winter we urgently need warm clothing. This is a good start. 


Another homemade gift I worked on this year was a lovely (if I do say so myself) crossstiched bookmark. I had been working on it in  but didn't know who should be the recipient when I read about a gift exchange possibility. Immediately I signed up and was assigned an address in Utah. Sadly, I haven't heard back from my exchange partner to know if she received my gift. The one she sent was returned to her and I don't know if she resent it. I pray that that bookmark finds its way to a good home.

I have to say that one of my favorite gifts this year came from Judy, a reader of this blog. Her daughter, Raven, used to be in the Peace Corps here in Zambia which is how we got acquainted. 


Judy sent me a beautiful knitted shawl. She sent the sweetest letter along with it describing how she had prayed for me and my family as she knitted it. She was very detailed in her prayers--praying for our provision, our challenges, our marriage, even my weight loss. As she wrote in her letter, the shawl is not endowed with magical powers, but every time I wear that shawl it will be a reminder that I am loved and prayed for. 
I plan to wear it when I have my Bible reading and prayer time in the morning.

Did you receive any homemade gifts that you loved this year?

Of course, not all well-intentioned gifts work out. You can head over to Tom's blog and see how a gift from the heart went wrong. He'd love your input.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas is for Kids

We started Christmas off for the kids by telling them the Christmas story using flannelgraph pieces. I hadn't really planned out the story real well, but the kids seemed to understand it well enough.


I was especially proud of 4 year old Johnny as he gave the right answers that showed he was really listening. I told them how Christmas Day was a day to remember how Jesus came to love us and we need to love and obey him. And, how we give/get presents in honor of the three wise men and their gifts to Jesus. As they get older we'll get into more details. They'll also be able to do more on the gift giving part to learn how to give as well as receive. 


After story time and a cookie, Tom and Timmy took the kids outside to light some sparklers. In our house, any holiday is a good reason to start fires.


The kids started off slowly and were a little intimidated by the sparks but by the time it got down to Henry, he was rocking out and putting on quite the show.


Jennifer stood off to the side and enjoyed her sparkler. Don't you love the little pigtails? The nannies use pipe cleaners to wrap around the hair.


The next afternoon the kids gathered in the dining room to get their gifts. We had such a nice selection of toys for the children thanks to all of you who participated in the Give Kids Their Own Space campaign. You can read how the idea got started here.


Tom passed out the presents youngest to oldest. Look at the candy canes on Henry's head.


They were a little shy--especially the younger ones, like Moriah,  who don't remember last Christmas.


These are the boxes that we were able to get for the six oldest kids. Chola is beaming with excitement.


Every child got a toy or two, a doll, a coloring book, and a pencil (the older ones also got crayons). The boys got king dolls. 


One of the best moments was when Johnny held up his doll and said, "hello, my baby!"
 I loved how Sandra was clutching both her dolls under her arm while still managing to draw in her book.


Johnny was so excited about his coloring book he wanted to do every page right then.


After playing with their toys for awhile the kids had a cookie party with milk to wrap up their afternoon.

Saturday is family visiting day so they all went down to the playground to visit with their relatives. 

It was a wonderful day and we're so grateful to all of you who helped make it extra special for the kids.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas in Africa

I don't know how many people are actually checking blogs today, but in case you're like me and you steal away for a few minutes to see how your friends are, I'd like to give you the penny tour of our living room and its decorations.


We'll start with our wonderful Christmas card display. We've been collecting cards for the past 10 years and this tree didn't even use up all of them. I love seeing all the pretty designs. Last year we did an ornament shape, but we wanted something different. The tree is so tall that even my six foot son standing on a chair couldn't reach the top. Crazy! 
The star at the top was handmade by us about 4 years ago.


Here is my lovely little manger scene. For years we had a teeny tiny clear plastic one. Nothing else would fit in our travel trailer first, and then in our luggage when we moved to Africa. A couple years after moving to Zambia we found this one at a garage sale. 


Backing up a bit we can see the full display. Stockings hung, Christmas books displayed and even Hippos donning Santa hats.
(next year I should do something about hiding the shelves behind....)


Now, on to the tree. It's about 5.5 ft tall and FAKE. No other kind available in these parts. After having a houseplant one year as our only Christmas decoration, I'm really grateful for this one.


These clay decorations were made by the kids in 1996 and 1997. My lovely friend, Natalie introduced me to making these and we made them for a few years after. With all the moving, not every one has survived but that makes the remaining ones that much more precious.


And, speaking of Natalie, we used to exchange ornaments each year as our gift. (Why'd we stop, Natalie???) This one is one of my favorites.


This ornament is lovely but a funny one. I started making these glow in the dark pony bead angels with the kids in 2000. The main part got done but we didn't get the tulle wings put on because it required a glue gun. That sparkly tulle traveled with us to Africa and kept getting pulled out with the rest of the decorations each year but never made it onto the angels. Finally, about two years ago, I finally attached it to a couple angels by sewing it on.  You might notice that our angels are bald. Supposed to have strawberry embroidery floss for hair. Still haven't gotten to that part. One of these years.....

There are a few other bits and bobs scattered around our living room. I'll have to get to those next year else I run the risk dragging this post on and on and boring all of you. The horror!!

Have a very Merry Christmas, one and all!

P.S. A very Happy Birthday to my wonderful dad! Click here for the tribute I wrote last year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pretty Paintings to Make You Smile

I'm rushing out the door for our regular shopping trip. We're doing it a day early because I want to be home sweet home baking and cooking up a storm on Christmas Eve--not battling potholes and crowds.

Last month some volunteers did a special face painting activity with the kids. I thought I'd leave you with those happy images. Again, these photos were taken by our visiting friend, Gray. He takes amazing photos.

Top to bottom: Theresa (4), Chola (5), Sandra (3), Henry (3), Jennifer (2)

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Birthday That Won't Quit

My wonderful, hubby extraordinaire managed to copy some still photos off our camcorder footage. He won't share them with me though. To see them you'll have to hop over to his blog, Livingstone Man. But then hurry back and tell me how much you like them, k?

We ate the second half of my birthday cake last night. Remember I said it was chocolate, orange and buttercream? Which of those ingredients would lead to weird dreams? Sunday night, after eating cake, everyone had really strange and vivid dreams. I don't remember if I did because I slept really hard. Last night we ate it again and everyone that had some (Tom skipped it--he's still watching his figure), had weird dreams again--including me. I mean I also had weird dreams, not that I was included in everyone's dream worlds. Just wanted to clarify that. So, what on earth do you think could have caused that? 

And now, I will leave you with a shot of two of my lovelies

 Three year old Janet (R) plaiting two year old Moriah's hair.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cinderella's Report and a Winner

First, let's get business out of the way: For my birthday contest I had 18 entries. Random.org's number generator gave me #3 as the winning number. 

That means that Robin is the winner! Hooray! Robin, please send me your mailing address. Thanks!

Now, on to the story of the ball. 

Really, compared to last year the story is pretty tame. The event started on time. It was in the same room as last year (so, pictures were pretty much out of the question due to bad lighting) and there was no real drama.

We were a bit nervous about whether things were going to go ahead as planned (tickets were bought in advance) because the day before the Ball was supposed to take place, Tom received a call from the Police trying to reserve the room at the Lodge. Apparently they had jotted Tom's number down next to the Lodge's name on their papers and mistakenly called him. But this meant that the booking was being done the day before the event! We were sure there was going to be a problem but things must have worked out.

This year we managed to get food (last year the food ran out before we could get to the buffet line) and it was filling. Filling is really all I can say about it although Tom had the best comment: "This food would make the judges on Top Chef cry!" --and not in a good way....LOL

We had a really nice time though. Tom knows many more of the policemen now. He was fairly new to the reserve force last year so this year he did a lot more mingling and chatting. The guest of honor who was the former Provincial Commander for Luapula even called us up to dance with the members of the High Table.

Finally, at 12:30 AM the time came for us to perform our prepared dance. We weren't sure if we'd be able to do the dance at all as we'd forgotten to copy the MP3 file onto a CD and though we had it on my tiny computer and on a flash drive, the DJ had an old system and could only use CDs. Thankfully, he just happened to have that song on CD. 
We chose to dance to No Air by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown. The second glitch came when the the DJ neglected to listen to our instructions and rather than starting the song at the beginning when we got to the stage he did that fade out/fade in thing so by the time the volume came up on our song it was several measures in already. This kinda messed with our choreography but we managed to pull it together anyway.

Everyone loved the song and cheered for it. I wish I could show you video of it but we had set our video camera up on a tripod--not trusting any guests to hold the camera as they can be pretty enthusiastic in using the zoom button no matter how many times you ask them to just point and let it run. :) Anyway, we had the camera all set up and then just after our dance started, a guest came up to the floor next to the stage wanting to film it on his camera. He even showed it to us when we got back to our table. He was so excited that he had managed to capture it. When I saw his footage my heart sunk. I just knew which angle he had shot from. Sure enough when we played back the footage on our camera this man had stood directly in front of our camera for 75% of the dance. Grrr!


Here is the only good photo we managed to take that evening. Despite the small hiccups we had a really good time. I loved having the chance to get dressed up on my birthday and have fun.

Two days later we had friends over to our house and Jasmine and Summer baked me a chocolate cake infused with an orange simple syrup and iced with orange buttercream frosting. So good! Then we watched The Sting. It was just as good as I remembered and knowing the twists and turns did not spoil my enjoyment at all. The whole evening was perfect. Thank you for all the birthday wishes! You make my life so much fun!

Exactly One Year Ago (yesterday):  The Reason for the Season


Sunday, December 19, 2010

An Early Christmas Surprise


Unknown Mami

Things are always interesting in my 'city'. We rarely have a normal week. As an example, yesterday a new little baby joined our family.

Born to a mentally ill mother, this tiny baby boy had no one to look after him. No one is sure where his mother came from but she wandered into the clinic 4 days ago in an advanced stage of labor. Everyone is so grateful that something (or Someone) led her to make her way to help. We shudder to think what might have happened if she gave birth in the bush. She was quite violent and refused to have anything to do with her baby. Since she had no apparent family the clinic personnel asked if we would take in the baby.


Since he came without any name we had to choose one, and in honor of the season, his name is now Nicholas!

Born on December 14 at 5 PM weighing seven pounds he is now 4 days old. 


I couldn't resist this shot. Crying babies are adorable, don't you think? I was interrupting his feeding in order to take pictures.


Happily drinking his milk with Nanny Petronella. He appears to have a good appetite and drinks 2 ounces every 3 hours. I fed my babies on demand but that is nearly impossible with so many little ones here. Working with a good schedule is much better for us and gives the babies more security.
**********
Someone told me yesterday that they would like to pray for Nicholas' mom. Her name is Catherine. 
Life is really hard for those with mental illness in this country. There are very few institutions that can look after them. I have never seen so many people with mental illness in all my life. It seems that there is a really high per capita rate of insanity but I think that is just because things that could be easily taken care of with medicine are not treated and so we see it more. Also, a lack of education and understanding of mental illness means that families, rather than love and care for their relatives that are struggling, tend to feel that it might be caused by witchcraft or demons which means they don't look after them in the way they should.

It makes you count your blessings, doesn't it? And, now we have a bundle of love and joy to celebrate Christmas with us.

P.S Remember--there's still time to enter my giveaway.

Exactly One Year Ago: My TaTas Are Tired

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Couple Giggles to Brighten Your Weekend

Recently, a German young lady, studying at Oxford, came out to volunteer for a few weeks. She was a huge help in beginning to catalog our library books by entering them into an online database.

After she got home she published her photos on Facebook. Two of them stood out to me and made me smile. I got her permission to share them with you.

First, this photo shows Nathan and Peter supposedly feeding the ducks. But, judging by their faces, I don't think the ducks got much to eat that day.


Second, I think this photo shows that we have way too many snakes around our property. If someone can enjoy a delightful, mango snack while holding onto a semi-venomous snake, something is seriously wrong...


I love my crazy life!

 P.S Don't forget to enter my contest/giveaway 

Exactly One Year Ago: Fab Friday Foto

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Puzzle and a Prize

Today is my birthday!

To celebrate it the Luapula police force will be holding a ball in my honor tonight.
I'm just kidding. But, the annual Police Ball is happening tonight and Tom and I will be attending. Not only will we be attending but we have prepared a ballroom-esque dance to perform at some point in the evening. We've been practicing hard and long for this moment. Neither of us really have any training and so the choreography might be interesting. I promise to fill you in on all the details no matter how mortifying.

Now, since it's my special day, I want to play a little game with you. 

In April, I bought one of my all time favorite movies but decided to keep it tucked away until my birthday as a gift to myself. I've had it on my T-shirt shelf all these months and have been nearly tingling with anticipation as my day drew ever closer.

This movie stars Robert Redford and Paul Newman (can hardly get any better than that!). It won 7 Academy awards. It is over two hours long. It is also as old as I am.

So, can you guess the movie?

If you guess correctly you will be entered in my giveaway. I will send you a 2 yard piece of African cloth if your entry is randomly selected. 

You get extra entries if you are a follower of this blog or the Kazembe Orphanage Facebook page. Leave me a comment for either of those options. The contest ends on Monday 5 PM PST. I will announce the winner on Tuesday's blog post. You must leave an email address so I can contact you. This contest is open to any and all*. Have fun!

*Well, all but my children who know exactly what movie is sitting on my shelf right now....

Exactly One Year Ago: Happy Birthday to Me!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy

This past week we had to say goodbye to one of the babies that we've rescued. It was time. He had healed completely from his abuse and didn't need our help anymore. Plus, he needed to be with others like him. He couldn't live with us forever. 

Have you guessed who I'm talking about?

Kanono, our vervet monkey had to move away last week. He was getting big, he'd figured out how to escape from his habitat and was out more often than in. He was beginning to steal crops. It just wasn't the right place for him anymore. Even as we prepared to take him to his new home he bit down on Timmy's hand and while he didn't bite hard enough to show he was trying to hurt, his teeth did drag across the back of Timmy's hand leaving some good cuts.

The zoo in Lusaka, Munda Wanga,  has a program where they take Vervet monkeys who have been living near people and get them ready for living in the wild. I wrote about them last year when we took our family trip in October. They are the ones who took the jackals we rescued a couple years ago.

Since we had to drive down to Lusaka stopping off in Ndola for the tournament and to see friends so Kanono had to spend a fair bit of time in the car--poor guy. We bought a laundry hamper with a lid and used that as a portable cage. He could stand up in it but couldn't lie down very well. We felt bad about it but it seemed the best solution. Thankfully, a friend in Ndola offered to look after him for 2 days so he could have a larger cage. You can see it in the picture below.

In this picture we've just come to pick up Kanono after his time with our friend and he was so happy to see Tom he kept hugging him. We felt awful putting him back into a cage, even if it was a much better cage given to us by our friend.

When we reached Lusaka we took Kanono to Munda Wanga where he was placed into a quarantine cage. He'll be getting vaccinations and then after a few days will move to a cage where he is still in isolation but near other monkeys so the staff can see how he is accepted. After 30 days he'll be moved into the main cage and then 3 months later the entire troop will be released into the wild.


When we leave for the States in January we'll pass by the Munda Wanga to see how Kanono is fairing. It was hard to say goodbye to him*, but we know he'll be happier and better off. He deserves to spend his life with monkeys and find a mate. We wish him well!

*In the interest of full disclosure I should say that 'we' does not include me. I could not be happier to wave bye-bye to the little rascal.

You can get Tom's perspective on the event by clicking over to his brand new blog.
Livingstone Man is where he will blog from time to time about life in the bush and also highlight some of his beautiful photos.

Exactly One Year Ago: Why Wait for the New Year?


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