Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Term Break sickness --

literally! We have spent the past two weeks nursing the sick in our household. First, Conn's mom was sick with the flu. Then, Melesiata was sick, I think just the crud. Hers turned into a rash because she was reacting to some of the medicine they were giving her. Conn's mom's turned into diabetic issues with very high blood sugar. I don't really know much about how she is managing it, so I don't know how she's doing with that. Last Tuesday, Parker got it. He started with fever, then runny nose, cough, lethargy, loss of appetite, general discomfort and crabbiness. On Wed. his temperature was 104.7 under the arm! Glad we brought acetaminophen and ibuprofen for kids. We dosed him up and gave him a cool bath. This helped somewhat as well as lots of cuddling. He started having diarrhea Wed night too. To me, this is the worst part! By Friday, he still was feverish and symptomatic so we took him to the doctor. He didn't really say what he thought was wrong, but he gave us a prescription for amoxicillin and nystatin. He seems to be doing a bit better since starting those, but the diarrhea is not. That's still pretty often. He gets lots of baths each day which is also good for his fever. It's not that high now.
Next was James. Monday night he woke in the night and threw up. Tuesday he seemed fine, but Wednesday morning he couldn't hold anything down. He also has some diarrhea.
It hit Tanielu Tuesday night. He had diarrhea in the night (in his sleep twice -- think Ernest P. Worll: eeeeeeeeewwwwww), and all day Wednesday. He also has the high fever and lethargy, loss of appetite, and runny nose and cough.
Luckily, we found out that there are American military doctors here this week and next. It's part of a project called Pacific Partnership. They are providing medical services specifically for eyes, teeth and ears, and for general medical concerns. Since Conn's mom wanted to go about her eyes (which are getting worse, I attribute it to the diabetes) we rode along to have the kids seen. We registered them all and Conn and me too. Starting with Tanielu: his sores on his knees and under his nose are impetigo again, he's wheezing, everything else is probably viral going through our family. He got an antibiotic (cephalexin) and a couple of bottles of albuterol. James just has the viral crud and got some multivitamins. Parker was advised to continue the antibiotics he already had and to be very intentional about getting rehydrated. The doctor was pretty concerned about this. He also got a bottle of vitamins and a recipe for homemade rehydration salts. Conn is fine and I just have some fluid behind my ear that had the infection and I'm a little dry. I got some Sudafed. We also got a couple more tubes of Bacitracin (antibiotic ointment) and a couple of Cutters (stick mosquito repellant). The doctor wants us to come back next week to follow up with Tanielu and to make sure Parker is rehydrated enough.
As for all other medical issues, we're all doing fine and everything is resolved, except the lice. Parker and I still have a few. We comb our hair with the fine tooth comb daily and we're using coconut shampoo. Otherwise, we're waiting for the Nix from Mom.
We have a few more days before our school starts back up, so we're all resting up and taking it easy so we can heal and get healthy again. All prayers are welcome. And while you're at it, pray for rain. It hasn't rained for about two weeks except for a couple short midnight showers. It's been very hot as a result.
Hope I didn't jinx anyone and make you sick (Beth, maybe you shouldn't have read this!). I'll keep you posted on our recovery.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

End of Term quiz

Saturday morning was the end of the term for the school here at the house. There are two classes, one here in Bikenibeu and one one in Betio that Laae teaches. We went to Betio for the two classes to compete in a quiz and then to present their dramas and songs to each other and their parents. The morning ended with lunch. The morning was fun, but also frustrating for me. It started with rushing around to get everyone ready to leave in time. We had donuts (Kiribati donuts are different from American donuts, but still good) for breakfast in the car on the way. When we got to the school, I found out that I had to score my class's exams differently and fill out progress reports for each of my students. I didn't want to have to do this at the time they were due! Now I know for next term. We started with a quiz where the students were in two teams with their class and they stood up to answer questions for points. The Bikenibeu class got the most points, but some of the questions were confusing, even for me. Again, I know now to plan some questions for next term. At the end of the questions, we presented our dramas. My class did The Boy Who Cried Wolf. I was really proud of them. We spent a lot of time on it. Conn videoed it, but we haven't watched it yet to see how it turned out. I'm going to let my class watch it to see how they did. I think the main thing is they needed to speak louder. The songs went really well too. They sang If You're Happy and You Know It, The Hole in the Ground, and Skip To My Lou. For lunch, Conn got some donuts and cut them open and made sandwiches with corned beef. They were pretty good. We got the idea to make some sauce and we could try to make NC style bar-b-que with corned beef instead of pork. We can't wait to try it.
By the end of the event, I had a splitting headache. We came back home and were due to go to Temwaiku for a botaki there. We helped clean up here first, then went there. That party was for their daughter who recently "eloped". They spend the first two weeks with the husband's family, then her family goes there to get them and brings them to stay with her family for two weeks. This was the end of that time when his family comes back to get them again and the couple is free to go between the two families. It's to show that the family is happy the couple is staying together. The kids played with the other kids there, and Conn helped with the preparations while I finally got to take a nap. It ended up being a very busy day, and the quietness of our Sunday was very welcome. I finished reading James' book, Artemis Fowl, and did some cross stitch. Now, we have 2 weeks off from our school before the next term starts. Hopefully we'll get to do some planning and preparing during this time. Conn is starting to make candy with Laae to sell and we're hoping to start a preschool class with the new term. I found a store that has school supplies and books. I look forward to going back and looking around there more.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Melesiata's first birthday party

This Saturday was the big day that much preparation, time, energy, worry, money and space has been put forth over the past few weeks. Let me introduce the cast of characters (a.k.a. family): Conn's sister, Laae; her husband, Toamwane; their daughter and star of the show, Melesiata. Melesiata turned one last Wednesday, August 5. Here in Kiribati, the first birthday is a huge deal. I think historically because it marks a turning point when the survival rate for a child greatly increases. This has led to tradition that cannot be broken in this culture. The weekend began Friday night with the arrival of Conn's family #2 from Temwaiku. They camped out on the living room floor and watched movies all night (there's no electricity at their house). There was some minor preparations that night, mostly preparing bread dough for baking early Saturday. The real festivities began Saturday morning. Family began arriving around 8. We ate hot African bread with butter for breakfast then began preparing the food for the evening party which would include dinner. The "head chef" was their Muslim missionary's wife from Ghana, Africa. This added some variety from the standard Kiribati "botaki fare." (A botaki is a party in Kiribati.) Soon after breakfast and long from a shower, I found myself with 3 other girls gathered around a bag of onions, a box of garlic cloves, then a huge basin of chicken legs. We peeled the onions (I showed them the quick way of cutting down one side to make the peels come off easier), peeled the garlic (I also showed them to chop off the bottom part so the peels come off easier), and finally "peeled" the chicken. That's right, under direction of our African cook, we removed the skins from more chicken than I could count. It took us until early afternoon to complete the task. At that point, we were at a pause in our work as the meat left our hands and went outside to the men who were bar-be-queing. This allowed me an opportunity to make sure the kids were getting fed and I gave Parker and Tanielu a bath, hoping this would make them want to sleep. We had no such luck for a couple more hours. I am still far off from my own shower at this point. Later in the afternoon, Tanielu came and showed me how big his finger was getting after smacking it on the door while he was running around. It was so swollen in his finger and into his hand, and it hurt for him to move it or for anyone to touch it, I really thought it was broken. I think I worried Conn to death over it and he finally agreed to take him to the hospital for an x-ray. We didn't see any break on the x-ray so we're just taking it easy and trying to let him put cold water bottles on it whenever we can. At this point, the swelling hasn't gone down much and it still hurts him. The doctor said we can go back and get his x-ray in a couple of weeks if he's better. Anyway, after our trip to the hospital, we made our way back home and got the kids' bathed and dressed for the party, then ourselves. It turned out that Conn was the MC, which means that he kind of leads the party and tells us what's happening next and who should do what. So, that was kind of good because the party couldn't start without him. You really gotta love Kiribati time and that's something that you just have to get over while you're here. The party was supposed to start at 6:00 pm. There was still cooking going on at 7:30, the birthday girl and her parents didn't leave the house until after 7, the MC and his family didn't leave the house until after 8. Luckily, Parker did have a nice long nap just before he had to start getting ready for the party. Melesiata, I'm not so sure about, but they took her pillow and blanket for when she fell asleep at the party. The maneaba (building where meetings and parties take place) was decorated nicely, with two tables of food of what seemed like equal amount (one from Laae's family and one from Toamwane's family). There was a couch for Melesiata and her parents with balloons all around. Some girls danced to present the cake to Melesiata, everyone sang Happy Birthday, then she cut the cake with her mother's help. Then there was some dancing, a band, everyone ate dinner, the kids got to play, and the transport started taking people home around 10. We got going home around 12. On the way home, James said he wished we could repeat that day because it was so fun. Tanielu fell asleep on the short ride home. We got lots of pictures and video of the festivities. We can only hope our pictures turn out ok because we found that morning that the display screen is broken. The camera seems to be fine otherwise and it seems to still take pictures, but we can't tell if they're any good until we put them on disc later. LOL. Such is life. Well, Sunday the girls set to work cleaning up around the house and family #2 set off back to Temwaiku. They left us the promise of just as much fun next weekend at their house for the next botaki.
Now, we've recovered, and life goes on.