Saturday, October 31, 2009

What is Missing?

My girls are so excited to be back in the States and able to take part in Halloween activities. Their church holds a trunk or treating festival where kids can walk around the church parking lot to various cars with decorated trunks. This year the girls are going as a pirate and her parrot.

We always tried to have a costume party here on Halloween and the kids worked long hours on constructing homemade creations. Not having access to storebought costumes or even hobby stores forced them to be much more creative and I think it really stretched their abilities as artists.

One thing that we couldn't really do here was carve pumpkins for jack o' lanterns. The pumpkins here are grey and not very pretty. Last year we put together a papier mache jack o' lantern to use as a pinata. We learned a valuable lesson: Always fill the pinata with candy after spray painting. Take it from us--paint flavored candy is not so yummy.

Anyway, all that to say, Jennifer and Jessica were so thrilled to have the opportunity this year to carve their own creations. Jessica posted hers on Facebook yesterday. As I looked at it I struggled to see what the design was. Even with a clue about a missing curly tail I still didn't see it. My daughter told me what it was but still, I looked and looked and nothing! Finally my son sat down with me and pointed it out.

Voila! A cat!

I had been focusing on the missing pieces and not the remaining pieces. What a great metaphor for life. When we walk around looking at all the missing things in our life we miss out on the big picture.

Have a great day everyone and stay safe tonight.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fab Friday Foto--Volume II

Don't you wish you could get away with this still.

Little Henry didn't find The Wizard of Oz as entertaining as the older kids and just fell right to sleep.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Word Contest

Last Monday we had Family Game Night. Out of three choices: Yahtzee, Boggle and Rummikub the winning vote went to Boggle.

The game was a lot of fun and educational too.
To even the playing field I only allowed myself to get points for 4 letter words and higher. This allowed the younger players a greater chance of gathering points.

What made us laugh most was that some people (who shall remain nameless) kept writing down random collections of letters that they were sure were words and insisting I look them up in the dictionary. Every round had about 5-10 words that we had to look up in our large collegiate dictionary.

Lo and behold, out of the dozens of nonsensical words we found 3 new words. I am going to write them below. If you know the definition tell me.

The commenter with the most words right will win a beautiful African cloth called a chitenge. If no one guesses any of the words I will choose a random comment.
We will be operating on the honor system--no Google or dictionaries allowed.

The contest will run for one week. You have until Wednesday 8 AM CST, November 4 to post your answers. I will announce the winner by Thursday 8 AM CST.

Here are the words:

1. hoy

2. gib

3. lase

Have fun!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Identity Confusion

Last week we had visitors come spend a week with us. Gray and Esther are a young couple planning on starting their own charitable project here in Zambia. They wanted to get some ideas and input from us and we were happy to oblige.

While here Gray and Esther also worked hard on putting together and installing our new drip irrigation equipment for the garden. We want to get plants in over the next couple weeks so they'll be well established when the rains start up for real.

Esther is a psychology major and has worked with autistic children for years so I asked her to evaluate one of our little children. Thankfully she said that for now we don't have anything to worry about with her. It was a relief to hear that and I also learned some of the signs to look for as well as the good skills to watch for.

When we first met with Gray and Esther in Lusaka we thought that Gray and T.J (our 17 year old son) had some resemblance to each other but didn't realize how much until they came up here.

When T.J came out of his room the morning that Gray and Esther arrived, little Johnny (3 years old) came running up full of excitement after meeting the new visitors.

"T.J, T.J, there are new people! One T.J and one other one!"

Poor Gray had to deal with kids calling him T.J all week.

So, what do you think?

Here's Gray.

Here's T.J

And here they are together.

Even one of our close friends got confused. We picked her up on the way to the waterfalls (where these photos were taken) and she got in the car and said, "Oh, hello, who are you, new girl?" We were all, "Umm, that's a couple." She said, "No, T.J I know already." Crazy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Who Needs Starbucks?

Most of our friends, in the northern hemisphere, are now enjoying fall weather--settling into their cozy homes near fireplaces, sipping warm drinks, eating hearty fall fare like pot roast, scalloped potatoes, vegetable soup, and apple crisp. Oh, how I love fall!

We, however, are currently melting in the blistering heat that is October.
Zambia has 3 basic seasons: warm and wet--November-March, cool and dry--April-July, hot and dry--August-October. October is the very hottest of those three months. The dust is thick from all the months with no rain.

In the afternoon when we are parched and sweaty we love to mix up a batch of frappes.

Here are the ingredients.

First, put half a tray of ice in the blender. Add 3 heaping spoons of coffee. On top of that pour half a can of condensed milk.

Add a cap of vanilla. It smells so good. If I had almond or caramel flavoring I might try that.

Blend it all on pulse setting in 10 second bursts until the ice is crushed and all is blended.

Add one cup of skim milk to give it a healthy feel after all that condensed milk.

Dump in another tray of ice. Blend it all up again. Keep blending in pulses until you don't hear chunks of ice hitting the blades.

At this point it is all thick and icy. So delicious. I usually pour it into a pitcher and do a second batch. Mix them all together and then pour into pretty glasses.

The perfect answer to a hot afternoon.

While Starbucks would be a wonderful treat (hear that Starbucks' management? Open one in Zambia!) until then we'll be ok with our own homemade Frappes.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Moriah Memory

Moriah Memory
Our Kids--Volume II

Just over one year ago we were relaxing in our living room on a Sunday morning when a man burst through our door begging us to help him. Our house is usually our private sanctuary and people respect it so we knew this man was desperate.
He told us that his granddaughter had just died in childbirth and left behind a little baby girl. We calmed him down and told him to bring us the baby. Later that morning he (along with his wife) brought this beautiful little girl who was only 12 hours old.
It turned out that the couple who brought the baby were the great-grandparents. The baby's mother and father were teenagers--just 17 years old. The father couldn't leave school and would not have had the resources to raise a baby on his own.

This was our first newborn and it was a completely different experience. In order to help the baby bond I took care of her almost exclusively for the first couple months.

We like to have our new tiny babies sleep in a little laundry basket. It was cheaper than buying a bassinet and helps the baby feel secure in a smaller space. It is also easy to pick up and move to different parts of the house.

Wasn't she a beautiful baby? Her family asked us to name her so the kids chose Moriah (the mountain in Genesis--not the pop singer). Later Moriah's family also added Memory to her name.

Moriah's first Christmas was when she was nearly 3 months old. She was like a little life size doll for my kids to play with.

6 months old

7 months old

8 months old
--Am I terrible to think that she is going to need good tweezing skills?

Sharing a smile with T.J

Happy Baby

9 months old
Poor baby--the local staff don't pay attention to gender typing in clothes.

She's walking!

Happy Birthday, Moriah!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Absentminded, perhaps?

“They’re clueless!”

I hear Peter Perfect on The Style Network proclaiming this and I heard it on Tamara’s Salon Takeover as well. It sounds so harsh and rude to my ears but as I learned the other morning it might just be the truth.

As Tom and I prepared for a day of shopping we puttered around the kitchen grabbing a bit of breakfast. We discussed how the power had gone off the night before and was still off. This has been a long power cut, we mused.

I began to gather ingredients for my morning drink. Opening the freezer I noticed a glass drink bottle. “Oh, Tom, you left this in the freezer last night. Good thing the power is off. That way it didn’t freeze and explode.”

Reaching into a ziploc bag I saw that with the power off my banana was no longer frozen. Oh well, it would have to do.

I tossed that in the blender and moved to the fridge to get the skim milk. “It sure is hard to see in here with the light not working during power cuts”. Pulling out the milk I wondered whether it was still good despite the fridge being off. It seemed to be, so I poured it in the blender over the banana.

Next I found my natural peanut butter and dumped a spoonful of that in with the other ingredients. A few drops of vanilla. Yum!

All was ready for my morning smoothie. All I needed to do was plug in the blender….


Sadly this is not the first time this has happened.

Yep, she’s clueless, folks.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Tradition

So, I'm gonna start a new tradition here. As a treat on Fridays for all those who find the day dragging I am going to post a Fab Friday Foto. I love aliteration--it makes my heart sing. Corny, I know but hey, whatcha gonna do.

Each Friday I will post a photo to inspire and delight. Sometimes it will be a photo from nature around us. Other times it will be an adorable child. Maybe it will be a portrait of a local person here. It might be something funny we see in our day to day life.

I'm hoping that a lot of the time it will be Tom's photos. He takes amazing photos and I want him to share them. I just have to work on getting them watermarked for him.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this feature and that it lifts your spirits and makes you happy.

Today, pictures from a nearby waterfall:

Mulumba Falls

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sun 'n' Slide

While in Lusaka we wanted to make sure the kids had a chance to have a lot of fun. Munda Wanga has a pool and a slide so we made plans to swim after seeing the animals.

Funny thing though, the kids (aside from Troy) didn't bring their swim suits. They said, "Mom, many times when you say we're going to swim in a nice pool with a slid
e it ends up being a pond pool with a baby slide."

Hmmm, I think that says really nice things about my optimism. Don't you?

Actually, this was all new since the time we used to visit as a family.
Their old pool was tiny and we often got stared at while we swam as I mentioned in this post.

Think they'll listen to me now?

When we got to the pool the slide wasn't working and we were told it only gets turned on on the weekends. Tom set off to talk to management and they agreed to turn it on for us. We were so proud of Tom for persevering and making the fun happen. It helped that Tom was able to bond with the owner over wildlife preservation and the story of the jackals.

This was Troy's first ever time on a 'real' water slide. I was really impressed with how he just climbed right up that high staircase and literally dove right in. No hesitation or squeamishness at the top.

He had a good example in his big brother--always ready to dive into new experiences head first.

Tom captured this photo. I love it!

Not having swimsuits didn't stop
us from having fun. Tom shared his suit with one of the boys and then the rest swam in their clothes. This is one advantage to living in Africa. Little things like this are more relaxed.

Here is T.J in all his long-haired wildness.

They made slide chains and trains
and went down over and over again. There were only four other people using the pool that day so we basically had the run of the slide. Such a treat!

We finally convinced Tom to slide down in his pants. It was a warm day and things were sure to dry. Unfortunately, the photographer (not me, thank goodness) didn't get a shot of him on the slide and then the water turned off just after that one slide.

It was such a fun day and full of memories. I believe next time we head to this pool everyone will be wearing swimsuits.

Until next time, may God bless and keep you on your own personal adventures.



Wednesday, October 21, 2009


GrammaMack is the winner of my Munda Wanga contest.

The author of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is Rudyard Kipling. This short story was originally part of The Jungle Book.

GrammaMack, please email me your snail mail address at so I can send you your prize.

Trouble by Threes?

We interrupt the happy family vacation photos to bring you th e following news:

The other night as Tom and I were dropping off to sleep Troy came running in to tell us there was a snake in the bathroom. Being that this is a not uncommon occurrence I chose to just stay in bed and sleep.

I was awakened a short time later by Tom coming in the room.

"The power's out", he informed me.

"Oh, ok", I sleepily replied. I was determined to keep my eyes clo
sed and keep resting.

"Oh, and I was bit by the snake".

That woke me up!

Apparently while trying to catch the snake Tom had donned gardening
gloves but the snake had found a vulnerable place where the fabric was thin.

Here is the culprit.

This is a stileto snake. Small and not too dangerous looking but it has the ability to bend its fangs backward or upward to catch a handler unawares.

Have no fear, this is not a deadly snake. I would not be casually
posting this here if it were--especially since our parents read this blog. What it can do is cause tissue damage. We read up on the snake more thoroughly right away and following advice found in the snake book we gave Tom some Ibuprofen.

You can just make out the tiny dot in between the deep creases. It seemed that only one fang penetrated. According to Tom the pain was minimal and similar to being pricked by a needle.

The next morning a small blister had developed. It was a bit tender to the touch but still seemed contained. We watched it carefully all day as we went about our errands in the small city where we shop.

Today, about 36 hours after the bite the blister looks to be subsidi
ng. We will continue to monitor it for any signs of infection or necrosis.

On our way home from shopping we decided to stop off at some ne
w waterfalls--new to us anyway. The plan was that we would have a quick nap before the drive home. When we got there however, the park guide was so happy to have visitors that he insisted on showing us around.

It was fine though, the nature and beauty was refreshing and we
felt much better for the stretch and quick walk. Heading back to the car I brushed up against a bush and felt an intense sting on my arm. I looked to see if a sharp leaf had sliced my arm but couldn't see anything. Almost immediately though a swelling showed up around a pin prick hole which told me the story. There must have been a wasp hidden in the bush.

I was pretty miserable as I got in the car and very quickly began having trouble breathing. I've never had a severe allergic reaction to a bug bite or sting so I was a little surprised. For the next hour I breathed in shallow breaths and tried to think calm positive tho
ughts and pray.

At home we had epinephrine but that was 2 hours away. Even my inhaler was at home since I share it with two of my boys. God had to heal me. And He did! By the time we got home I was fine.

Just before we reached home our oldest son called to say that a severe storm had hit Kazembe with high winds and heavy rain. There was a lot of damage in and around our property.

Some of the grass sections of the roofs only look like their hair was mussed up a bit.

Others have whole sections peeled right back. This roof even shows signs of having lifted completely up because there are cracks and stress fractures in the brick. Praise God that it stayed put.

Huge portions of our fence were also blown down. Thankfully, the new wire fence is fine so it was only the grass fence that blew down.

The most damage we saw was to the Mutomboko arena next to our property. It lost most of its roofing sheets with many of them flying into our property.

This sheet blew hundreds of yards before landing in our garden. Another praise is that no one was hurt by these flying sheets of tin.

Here is our new gate which was bent by the wind. The tin even ripped.

Reading over this post I'll bet you share my hope that trouble only comes in threes and that we'll have some respite.

Please allow this narrative to remind you to pray for missionaries all over the world for their protection.

Until next time, may God bless and keep you on your own personal adventures.



Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Munda Wanga

A few people have told me that they are having trouble leaving comments. To leave a comments just click on the comments link at the bottom of the post. It looks like this: 2 comments or 0 comments (oh the horror!).
At the bottom of the message template is a place that says sign in as: and a drop down menu. Choose whatever option is best for you. For many it is anonymous or name/URL. For this option you only have to put your name in that section and leave the URL blank (unless you want me to visit your site). Please email me at if you have more trouble. Facebook friends can visit my wall. I look forward to hearing from all of you.

And now, back to the news:

One of the places I was most looking forward to visiting on our trip was Munda Wanga. We used to visit this park all the time when we lived in Lusaka (the capital city) because it was fairly close to our home and was reasonably affordable. For about $2 per person we could go and spend the day in beautiful botanical gardens or wander through the smallish zoo. The little restaurant served cheap snacks and it was a really relaxing way to spend a day.

Since our visits there the zoo has grown quite a bit with a bunch of new animals added. I've had the opportunity to visit it a couple times since we moved--taking visitors there--but Tom and the kids hadn't been there since 2004.

All photos for this post were taken by Tom as I wrestled the baby's stroller over the gravelly roads. Plus, he's just better at it.

We saw the usual animals like these impala which were nice but they're everywhere.

The warthogs were nice (in a very ugly way) and so very African. Sing it with me now: "Hakuna Matata--What a wonderful phrase!

I can't see zebras anymore without thinking of Madagascar. They look comical and cartoony now.

These African Wild Dogs were favorites for Tom and Jasmine. Tom said they're different and not one of the usual suspects in a zoo or wildlife park. Jasmine liked the noise they make.

I love the mongooses and they were favorites for T.J as well.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is a famous story about a mongoose. I will send an Zambian greeting card to the first person who can tell me who wrote this story.

The monkeys were favorites with all our kids but Timmy really enjoyed this baboon. Here he is pictured with T.J but earlier he had shaken Timmy's hand. It got a bit scary when he refused to let go and then bared his teeth. Monkeys are very strong.

There was a big colony of vervet monkeys also. There are a bunch of new ones that are in the process of being reintroduced to the wild after causing problems at the Zambian State House. One monkey even urinated on the president's head during a press conference causing great embarrassment.
Since we have our own vervet monkey we know exactly how mischievous they can be.

Speaking of mischievous, when my teenage son saw how close this ostrich was to the fence he talked about how fun it would be to wrap his hands around the neck.

I've seen these lions on many occasions (including feeding days where the lions come charging over the hill to leap onto meat placed near the fence) but it never hit me until this particular day how very very large they are. They are huge!! It's easy to think of lions as just big cats but they are definitely wild animals.
Interesting fact here: they can't keep more than one male in a pride or they will fight all the time so they castrated one of the males which caused his mane to fall out. How sad is that?

And now for a very interesting story:

Around this time last year some people brought a box to our gate with little cubs of some sort. They looked like baby foxes or wild dogs. We didn't know what they were. We fed them milk and kept them in our shower room but knew that they were not the sort of animals we could add to our menagerie.

On one of our shopping trips to the main city--Mansa-- 3 hours away, Tom dropped the little cubs (now identified as jackals) off to the Zambian Wildlife Association (ZAWA). They were very excited since almost no one rescues animals in this part of Zambia. They encouraged Tom to file paperwork to become a wildlife officer.

ZAWA's Mansa branch later told us how happy they were that we dropped off the jackals since that meant they had something to write in their 'activity report' for that quarter. When Tom paid a visit to ZAWA's headquarters in Chilenge they said, "Oh, you're the jackal guy". Tom is working with ZAWA to establish a type of reptile habitat up here for people to view. (More about this another time).

Anyway, on our trip to Munda Wanga we saw that they had jackals and wondered, "Could they be ours???" Sure enough, they were! Look at toward the bottom of this page to see more about them.

It was so exciting to see how our small rescue efforts in this area of Zambia are making a difference.
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