All About ‘A’

Since Elias sees all of his friends going to school everyday (they are all homeschooled actually), he wants to be big like them and “do school” too.  So, we have started doing preschool together.  I do not have any formal preschool curriculum and so Pinterest and YouTube are my BFFs.

My goal in preschool is mostly to have Elias get used to the routine of school and also having Mom as a teacher.  Since there is no English school option in Nabire, our only option is homeschooling.  If doing preschool together accomplishes nothing but those two things, we’ll call it a win…but I do hope that he learns some other things too.  I never thought I would be a homeschool mom, but I’m kind-of nerdily excited about it!

We are keeping things simple for preschool.  Each week, we study a letter of the alphabet.  There is gobs of stuff out there on the interwebs to do letter based preschool, so no need to reinvent the wheel here.  Naturally we started out with the letter A.

A is for Apple!

Apple Stamps

Apple Stamps

First we cut an apple in half and made apple prints.  Elias loves to paint way more than coloring, so I try to incorporate painting as much as I can.

Apples Up on Top

Next, we “read” the book “Apples Up on Top.”  Since I don’t actually own this book, we watched a video of this being read aloud on YouTube.  I told you that YouTube is my BFF.  There are soo many read aloud books available on there!

After watching the video, Elias glued apples “up on top” of this little guy’s head and then counted them.  We only made it to 7 even though it goes to 10 in the video.

Ants go Marching

 

Ants go marching

Ants go Marching

On the next day of school (we try to do school Monday, Wednesday and Friday), we talked about ants.

First we watched a little video (YouTube!) with the song “The Ants Go Marching.”  Then we made these little ants with popsicle sticks, black paper circles and googly eyes.  Elias loves the googly eyes.  Once all our ants we made, we lined them up one by one and then two by two, etc. just like the song.  We only made six ants, so our little guys only marched up to three by three.

q-tip ants

q-tip ants

Next, we made an ant painting using a q-tip to paint the ant bodies.  Red ants were also added after I took these pictures because “red ants bite and black ants tickle.”

All About A

A is for Apple!

The very last thing we do is make a little A book.  I cut out several shapes of objects all beginning with the letter ‘A’ (apple, airplane, ant, arrow and alligator) and let Elias paint them.  Once they were dry, he glued one shape per page and then we could read the book we created together.  To make the book itself, I sewed several pieces of 5 inch x 5 inch origami paper together.  This book is only 5 pages, including the cover.  I hope that by the end, he has one book for each letter of the alphabet!

All and all, I’m really loving doing preschool together.  We just spend about an hour working together each time we do school and I’ve already seen progress in Elias being able to recognize letters.  Yay!

Dishes

Dishes

 

I used to hate doing the dishes.  For years I had a house helper (it is super common over here to hire someone to clean your house everyday) mostly so that I didn’t have to do the dishes.  And then I had this two-year internal debate as to whether or not I actually wanted a house helper.  Sure it felt weird to have someone else cleaning up after me all the time.  I would look for excuses to leave the house while she was there…but she did the dishes!  After two-years, my desire to have my house to myself won out (I’m an introvert, yo.) which means I would have to suck it up and do the dishes myself (as well as all of the other household chores).

Y’all.  I love doing the dishes now.  Love. It.  It’s not the actually the act of doing the dishes, but it’s the sort-of mindless washing of dishes that allows my brain to wander.  It is the 45 minutes of my day (yep, takes that long!) where my 3 year-old will somewhat happily entertain himself while I listen to the podcast of my choice and scrub last night’s dinner off of all of our utensils.

It is the sense of accomplishment in taking care of my home that I was missing when someone else was doing the job.  It is the dishes put away in the right place and a clean kitchen, at least until lunch time rolls around.

This may just be a season.  The time may come again, when I am trying to homeschool Elias and wrangle another kiddo, that I may have house help again.  But for now, I am loving having my house all to myself.

Homemade Potato Chips

Potato Chips

This possibly falls under the category of a dangerous recipe because homemade potato chips are super delicious and you’ll want to make them all the time.  All. The. Time.

Potato Chips are one snack (well, one of many) that we have trouble finding around here.  Unless you’re ready to settle for Seaweed or Barbecue Beef flavor all the time.  Neither are terrible, but sometimes you just want plain ol’ potato chips, ya know?

Homemade Potato Chips

Ingredients:

Potatoes (as many as you want)
Oil, for frying
Salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Scrub potatoes and then slice very thin.  I use the thinnest setting on my slicer/shredder attachment for my Bosch.
  2. Rinse potatoes slices until water runs clear (this helps remove some of the starch, very important!  Don’t skip this step)
  3. Lay out slices in a single layer on a tea towel and pat dry (also important, don’t skip!)
  4. While potatoes are drying, heat oil to between 350-375 F.
  5. Once oil is hot, drop potato slice a handful at a time into oil and allow to cook until golden brown (2-3 minutes).  Remove to cooling rack and salt immediately.  Repeat until all potatoes are cooked!

If you actually have leftover chips, do not store in plastic bag or container as they tend to take on the flavor of plastic.  I just put some cling wrap over my glass bowl and we ate them over the next few days.

Beautiful Mamit

Every summer, we have MAF family conference; a time when we can get together with our teammates from all over the island to rest, learn and have fun together!

This summer, conference was held in the mountain village of Mamit.  Mamit has a rich history.  Have you ever read the book Lords of the Earth by Don Richardson?  Well, if you haven’t, go read it!  And if you have, you may recognize Mamit as one of the the villages where Stan Dale and his teammates opened an airstrip in 1961.

Obviously, Mamit has come a long way since 1961!  It is one of the most gorgeous villages I have ever visited.  Everything is clean and well manicured.  And the mountain lanscape just can’t be beat.

Beautiful Mamit Beautiful Mamit

Beautiful Mamit

Beautiful Mamit

Beautiful Mamit

Beautiful Mamit

Beautiful Mamit

My favorite picture

This might be one of my most favorite pictures I have ever taken!  Handsome hubster, cute kiddo, beautiful landscape, what more do you need really?

Upriver

Another fun thing we did while in Turumo a few weeks ago, was ride a boat upriver to a secluded island where we could swim, talk, cool down and relax.

Carved canoes

Wood carved canoes at the Turumo port.  We didn’t ride in one of these though.

On the Boat

The missionary families purchased this boat along with a boat motor so that they could have these little escapes up river.  They can also get to another village upriver where there is another airstrip (should theirs still be closed).

On the bough

I often have “how did I get here?” moments over here and riding in down the river in the middle of the Papuan jungle definitely provided one of those moments for me.

Rock Beach

River Rocks

After about 45 minutes, one bent motor prop, and other adventures (life is never boring with these friends of ours!) we arrived at a little island made up mostly of river rocks.  The water here was clean and cool since it streams down from the mountains.

Riding down the river

Riding down the river

Tubing

The rapids are quick enough here that you can ride down on a tube, or in a life jacket.  Elias quickly got over his initial fear and was ready to ride down all by himself.  Poor kid, mom and dad were not so ready to let him do this.

First Fraps

We had a picnic, including Starbucks Frappucinos!  I think I am safe in saying we are the first people in the history of time to drink Frappucinos here.  Call Guinness Book!

Frap

Buds

Tuckered

Well, after a few hours of eating and fun, the littles were tuckered and we packed up to head back home.

 

April

She is slowing becoming Papuan: carrying her net bag on her head.

Depth Check

Middle of Nowhere, Papua

Hello Middle of Nowhere!

Muddy Feet

It might have been a wee bit muddy back at the Turumo port!

Thanks for the adventures, friends!  We love you guys!

 

Airstrip Maintenance

In addition to visiting our awesome friends in Turumo last week, we were also able to help them fix up their runway a little bit.  We didn’t really anticipate helping, but when we arrived with the stomper (the machine seen below), the people got all excited and basically said, “Look!  The pilot is here to work with us on the runway.”  So…yep, we helped with the runway.

Turumo is located in the hot, flat swampland of Papua.  So the runway has many challenges.  Nathan could explain all the technical stuff to you, but my basic understanding is that the ground is too soft and so when a plane lands, it sinks right into the dirt creating ruts all the way down.  The culprits: too much rain and sandy soil.

While we were there, we (I say “we” but I was really more of an observer) showed them how to use the stomper, a gas powered machine that stomps the ground so that it can become compacted and more solid.  The people also started carrying rocks up from the river which will have to be stomped down into the ground as well.

Using the Stomper

"helping"

Elias, um, helped too…and I just took pictures.

Digging Ditches

Digging Ditches (hot arm muscles, honey!)

Another thing they worked on was digging drainage ditches and clearing away brush from the side of the runway. (and I just watched…his arm muscles at work)

Cutting away brush

Men, women and children all worked together.  Maintaining an airstrip is no joke.

more ditch digging

Chain Gang

MK right of passage

Kids in the jungle learn how to use a machete at a really young age.  I’m not quite ready for Elias to swing free with a 2-foot knife yet, but he did get some practice with Dad’s help.

Those arms again...

Cool dudes, hanging together on the runway…with a machete, in the swampland of Papua.  What is this life that we live?

Clearing the brush

clearing the brush

I don’t have great pictures of this, but they also fell a whole bunch of trees at one end of the runway to make the glide path upon landing a little more smooth (Right, honey?  All these technical questions are really not in my wheelhouse.)  To do this, they walked through the jungle taking notches out of a group of trees forming a triangle, with the hope that you could knock the tree at the peak of the triangle and the rest would fall with it.  I think it worked, because the trees got cleared pretty quickly!

There is still a lot of work to be done on the Turumo runway, but hopefully our three days there at least helped to  motivate everyone to work!  The people consider Nathan “their” pilot even though there are others that fly-in and so they listen to what he says!

1,000 Words

They say a picture says 1,000 words and last week, as our family visited the interior village of Turumo, I took about 500,000 words worth.

1,000 words, yes, but there are 1,000 more that the picture doesn’t tell.

On the Porch

It doesn’t speak about the hot, thick, still air that surrounds,  the sun beating down and the relief of the shade.

On the Porch

You can’t hear the foreign tongue being spoken, nor see the shared language of laughter and tears.

 

Turu mama

Flies swarm, poisonous snakes slither, infection spreads; the everyday worries of jungle living are masked in a picture.

 

Turu mama

And then the rain falls and water tanks are refilled.  The river runs quickly again.

 

Gather round the fire

Pots of rice, a break from their usual diet of garden vegetables and whatever meat they can catch, cook over a hot fire after a hard day’s work.

 

MKs and friends

Friends gather and laugh.  Boys chase girls around with the giant spider that they caught.

 

Turu kiddo

Beauty surrounds, God’s creation hums.

 

Rice on the fire

The sun sets and the heat of the day turns into the humidity of the evening.  Rice bubbles, stomachs growl.

 

Turu kiddos

It’s a beautiful, simple life in the jungle.  A life full of hard work, sweat, danger, sickness, death, light, heat, love, joy, laughter….life.

 

Turu mama

And there’s a group of people, thirsty to know God, without a full understanding of what they are thirsting for.  30 years ago, one among them hiked 2 weeks through the dense jungle to ask for missionaries to come.

 

Turu

And now, the missionaries are there; living, learning, loving, making their way through a world and culture they don’t yet fully understand.

It’s hard, it’s stressful, it’s heartbreaking and it’s worth it.

Father’s Day

I’m a little behind on the goings-on around here, so let’s back up for a hot minute to Father’s Day.

We had a pretty relaxed day and just hung out as a family.

Father and son

Concentration

Elias and I are so grateful to have Nathan in our lives!  He is kind, caring, consistent and fiercely loyal.

Father and Son

Concentration

Love you, honey!  Happy Father’s Day!

(Don’t worry, I did wish him this on the real day too :) )

Homemade Smashburgers

Smahsburger

If you ask pretty much any missionary in southeast Asia what food they miss from home, I can almost guarantee that a good burger makes the list.  It definitely makes my list.  And I’ve been on the quest for the best homemade burger from the day we first stepped off the plane.  Finding the perfect bun recipe along with the perfect burger recipe to go with it has made for a lot of experimenting.

Recently, I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Hamburger buns and after many less than perfect white hamburger buns, I was willing to give it a try.  Sounds strange maybe, but the pumpkin adds just the right amount of moisture to make this a delicious, moist bun (and you don’t even taste the pumpkin)!

Pumpkin Buns

Makes 8 buns
  • 1/3 cup 1 tbsp milk, plus more as needed
  • 1(1/4 oz) packet active dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar or light brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 large eggs, divided
  1. Use a saucepan or the microwave to warm 1/3 cup milk to 100º F, or about body temperature. (I like the baby-bottle test: put a couple drops of milk on the inside of your wrist, and if you can’t feel it, it’s the right temp.) Stir the yeast and sugar into the warm milk, and let stand for 5-10 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbly and foamy.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add butter, 1 egg, pumpkin puree, and yeast mixture, and stir until the flour is combined. The dough should be slightly sticky, but not cling to your fingers. If it feels too wet, add a bit of all-purpose flour; if it feels too dry, add a splash of milk.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, adding just enough flour to keep it from sticking to the board. Stop kneading when the dough is soft, supple, and slightly tacky; if you poke it with your finger, it should spring back. (You can also knead the dough for 6-8 minutes in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.)
  4. Grease or butter a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, and toss to coat evenly with the oil or butter. Cover the bowl loosely with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size. While the dough rises, lightly grease a baking sheet.
  5. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press out any excess air. Divide the dough into 8 even pieces. Working one at a time, roll each piece of dough into a ball, then gently press it into a disc about 1/2 inch thick. Lay the discs of dough out onto the greased baking sheet. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. (The buns should now be slightly touching each other.)
  6. Preheat the oven to 375º F, and position a rack in the middle. In a small bowl, beat together 1 egg and 1 tbsp milk to make an egg wash. Lightly brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash, being careful not to deflate the dough. Sprinkle a few pumpkin seeds onto the center of each bun, and gently pat them down to make sure they’ve stuck to the egg wash. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the buns are golden on top and firm to the touch.
  7. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Let the buns cool completely, then gently pull them apart. Slice in half lengthwise, and serve with whatever fillings you like.
  8. To store leftover buns, leave them whole (unsliced). Store in a plastic bag at room temperature for up to 4 days. For longer-term storage, wrap individual buns in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil, and freeze for up to 3 months.

The restaurant, Smashburger, became a “thing” since we’ve been living overseas, so truth be told, I have only eaten there once or twice.  So, I believe these burgers are a pretty close approximation, but I’m no expert.  Either way, they are delicious.

On the Grill

12 oz room-temperature ground beef (high quality beef would obviously make a better burger, but we’re not too picky around here)
salt, to taste

Seriously, that’s it!

  1. Heat flat top grill until 600-650 degrees F.  I use my stove top cast iron griddle.  Heat is important in this whole deal, so make sure it’s good and hot!
  2. Divide ground beef into 2 oz portions.  Roll each portion into a ball.
  3. Place one ball at a time onto HOT grill (no grease on the grill) and press flat, until it is the size of your hamburger bun.  I use the bottom of a frying pan to press flat.  Immediately sprinkle with salt.
  4. Wait 1-2 minutes and then flip.  You’ll need a metal spatula to scrap all of the meat goodness off of the grill.  Add cheese to the cooked side of the burger, if you so desire.
  5. Once cooked though (this will not take long!), place burgers onto prepared buns.  I prefer 2 patties on my burger.  Nathan likes 3.

Smashburger

I hope you have a Happy–and delicious–Fourth of July weekend!  I know we will be!

Peace out.

Fruit Stands

Fruit Stands

Right along the beach near base, we have these awesome fruit stands.  It sounds kinda dreamy, and it nearly is if you can ignore the trash and the cat calls.  About once a week, Elias and I walk over here to buy fresh fruit.  Some of it is local and some is imported.  Elias really has a love/hate relationship with it.  He loves the free grapes that people hand him because he’s cute…and he hates that they all want to pinch his cheeks.

Fruit lady

I go to the same lady each time I go.  She is super sweet and tries so hard to befriend Elias (grape bribes).  She insisted I hold an avocado when we took this picture…so there ya go.  Also, I am a giant woman in this country.  Giant.

Cutest Mindy

And speaking of giant, check this fruit out!  Any guesses what it is?  Hint: it’s texture is like snot and it’s not durian!

So, one scraped knee (Elias), a cantaloupe, 2 kilos of mango, 1 kilo of avocado, 1 pineapple, and a handful of free grapes later, we headed home.   All and all, a successful trip to the fruit stands!