26 agosto 2015

From mam to mom

So, finally!  Finally!  We finally have a great fit of an international student living with us!  Thank you, God!

After a mixed up arrival, Kun settled in nicely with us.  She eats with and hangs out with us.  She helps me in the kitchen and reads to the kids.  She initiates conversation and dances freely around the house.  We love her!

Right away, she started calling me "mam," which I didn't like.  I am not THAT old, am I?  Well, I probably am, but I didn't want to be reminded of it each time she addressed me.  But then...

... I received my first text from her, addressed to "Mom."  Oh!  She was calling me mom all along, but her vowels are off just enough that I misunderstood her.  Ha!  Sure!  I'll be her mom.  Accordingly, I have taken to referring to her as my Chinese daughter.

Side note:  So, ever since Summer Camp, where the parking lot was filled with mini-vans, Girumy has been obsessed with getting one.  Seriously, he talks about it constantly and tries to persuade me be any means he can.  I told him that if we have another child, then we could get a mini-van; and that he would have to talk to Rob about that.  Now, I know how Rob feels on the subject, so I was safe in saying that.  Thankfully, he hasn't caught on that Kun is, for all intents and purposes, my daughter for a time!  He would never accept "no" for an answer if he did.  Ha!

On learning a language

It's in the air... memories of Crimea.  The chill and our current, domestic linguistic situation have focused these memories on my first long-weekend on the beautiful peninsula.

So, I had been studying Russian for several weeks at that point.  Till my battle with Russian, I had always been one of the best in my language studies, Spanish, French and Italian.  But then!  I was placed with three others in Smila, Ukraine to study Russian, three others that had already studied Russian at university.  So I was The Slow One.  I hated it and the obstructive affective filter was on high.

But then came our work-site visit weekend and I travelled with the other Crimean-bound Volunteers.  And it turned out that I was at the top of that group linguistically, which did wonders for my confidence and lowered my affective filter, allowing me to climb quite a few rungs, very quickly, on the never-ending ladder to Russian mastery.

When I returned to Russian class the next week, my teacher and mates all exclaimed, "What happened to you?!"  "You can speak Russian!"

Now, there is another language-learning phenomenon called petrification.  Unfortunately, I believe that is my case now, with Spanish.

Previously, due to weekly conversations with our dear L., maybe I had improved a bit.  She thought so.  But then she left for some weeks and I now realize, for all intents and purposes, that I am petrified.  Maybe I have a bit of wiggle room, but I am definitely trapped in this level.  I am beginning to doubt that I could ever break through.  I still assert that this static Spanish is better than none for my kids, but it's boring, annoying and saddening for sure.

What to do?  !Adelante!  L. brought us many books from Colombia, which we will all devour.  I am on the search for more music and I have found more shows in Spanish for the kids.  And maybe, just maybe, those $475 tickets to BogotA will fly me over the hump!

17 agosto 2015

Highlights from Bunaland

Last week:

-I was blessed to be able to visit lots of old friends and make some new ones.  Shout out to the hospitable Dinknesh, Addis and Mimi!
-I ate shuro and mesir wats four times!
-I happily drank lots of buna and Ambo.
-I finally got to ride on a crowded mini-bus and learned how to tell the driver to stop, "Warach izih!"
-I had my seriously mud-caked shoes washed and shined outside of the Waba shebelle Hotel.
-I finally was able to climb a hill that I have wanted to for about five years now.  Shoo!  What a workout!
-I easily figured out and rode the Metro of D.C., seeing Arlington National Cemetery (And the waves crashed over me!) and the Washington Monument from a distance.

What a gift from God!

Henya's home

Every other year, we get a new batch of chicks in August and graduate the older hens from egg to soup duty in November.  We turn the upper portion of the Poule House into a brooder, while it is still summery-hot, and put the senior hens on the first floor, blocking any connection between them.  As we hope to get the chicks this week, Rob divided the duplex this weekend.

Last night he went out to lock the hens in for the night, but... he could only find three of them.  In his search, he noticed that the separation-board had been moved just a bit.  So, Rob opened up the upper coop, and there, in the nesting box, was an egg and a dead Henya.  Poor thing!  She needed to lay her egg in her usual nesting box and broke her neck to do it.

What do I do with that special egg?  I feel like I need to turn it into something fabulously French to honor her sacrificial duty.  Ah, maybe a tomatillo tarte.  Yes, that is just the thing.

To Henya!

09 agosto 2015

Around here

So, I haven't taken photos of my harvests lately because I am so busy harvesting!  Potatoes, tomatoes, beans, beans and beans!  Basil, cucumbers, zucchini and tomatillos!  It has been such a great year.  The grapes are starting to turn colors and there are three plums ripening.  Our first plums ever!  Oh, do I love gardening!

The kids... well... I'll just let the photo speak for itself.
Yes, that is how we roll around here with Super-G, Princess and the wolf named Stars.

And this weekend has been Colombia-rific!  What a blessing all around!  Our Sunday was capped off by...
... C. and C., cooking us a delicious linner (patacones, pasta and ahogado (?) and serenading us with music.

Our recent experiences with G, our Belgian friend, and all of our Colombian friends have had me thinking: It is SO easy to be with these students.  They are all so comfortable in our home and just join in.  Whereas, with the exchange students from the Middle East... well, it was not easy or comfortable for any of us.  It makes me feel sad and guilty a bit.  But, what could I have done differently?  Maybe just adjust my expectations?  Hm... next up we will have a girl-student from China live with us.  I wonder how that will be.

Well, I am off for a wild adventure this week: I'm going to my family's home.  Buna, here I come!

04 agosto 2015

Oh my, Ty! and Oh, my Ty!

So, G has been visiting our new doctor frequently to have his ears cleaned out.  Whoa!  Occasionally, I have to bring the twins with me.  On one such visit, the doctor was trying to be funny and asked Ty, while holding out the disgusting lump of wax that he had just extracted, "Yummy.  Do you want to eat it?"  And Ty, very matter-of-factly, said, "I only eat my own earwax... during nap time."

R and the kids came with me to the Farmers' Market for the whole morning two weeks ago, spending much of their time at the park on the lake.  Days later, Ty told me that he saw a man without a shirt there and proceeded to go up to him and asked him why he wasn't fully clothed.  The guy responded, "Oh, sorry."

At the same park, Ty told me that he went up to two women and one child and asked them if they loved Jesus.  They said, "No."  And he prayed for them right then and there.

Once I saw an episode of Jacques Pepin's cooking show, on which was a chef friend of his.  His friend was beating eggs and making a racket while doing so.  And so Jacques told him how when he was apprenticing, the chefs would whack the legs of any apprentice with a cane if he made noise while beating eggs.  One Saturday morning, while Rob was making pancakes, I heard that terrible racket.  I pushed the French Chef in me back and simply decided to tell Rob Jacques' story.  Well... recently I was making a tortilla espan(tilde)ola, beating the eggs.  Ty came into the kitchen and said to me, "If you keep doing that noise, you'll be thrown out of the Mexican kitchen."  Almost!