Thursday, September 24, 2009

End of Ramadan

On Monday, Ramadan was over and the Muslim community gathered to celebrate and feast. Our boys were invited to join in the trip to Betio. This is what James has to say about it:
"Yesterday we went to Betio with Grandmama and Uncle. Mommy and Daddy stayed behind. At Betio, we played with our friend there, Khaleel. They had an Amazing Mazes. I enjoyed doing them while the Muslims prayed. Then it was lunch time. I had chicken luncheon (like chicken spam) and part of a potato. Then we went down to the beach and I dug a hole in the sand for Tanielu's crabs he found. Then we went home. What a day at Betio!"

Day to Day Same Old Same Old

Well, sorry I haven't written about what's going on here for a while, but it doesn't seem like there's anything new or exciting to write about. Our daily life has evened out to morning chores, trying to get the kids to do their schoolwork, and afternoon school. Our morning chores include getting breakfast and cleaning up, doing laundry, and cleaning up outside. The boys always help with setting and clearing the table and washing the dishes. James helps run the washing machine and both boys help hang and fold laundry. All the boys help clean outside. They sweep, pick up trash and brush, and today they cleared the branches from the back of the house so the sun will hit the clotheslines. They also repaired the duck pen outside so the ducklings won't get out. Cats can still get in, but the ducklings are safer there if a cat does go to them because the male duck will fight back. We're down to only 3 ducklings so we're trying to be more protective of them.
The kids are doing well in their schoolwork, but it's harder for them to focus here. There's not really a desk space for them to work and it's hard to keep their materials organized and easy for them to find their stuff. We're working our way around the world with Asia first. We've studied Japan, China, Korea and India is next. We're also incorporating their Scout requirements into their school work so that gets done too, and adds fun. In the afternoon, the boys play with the school kids, then work with them during school time. In the evening, they come out to the road to meet me when I get off the bus and we come home to eat dinner (sometimes late, like 8) and get off to bed. They enjoy their reading time in the mosquito net before lights out. Even Parker gets his nose into a board book. They are quick to fall asleep after lights out and prayer. It's a full day for our three boys who are starting to be not-so-little anymore.

Silly School Kids

Just wanted to share a funny experience with my school kids this week. On Wednesday, the wait for the bus was especially long so the kids I ride with had extra time to play and be silly together. There were some birds soaring overhead and the kids were calling to the birds and trying to attract them. There are some concrete cinder blocks near the place where we were waiting so a couple of kids climbed up there to be closer to the birds. No, none jumped off and tried to fly, thank goodness. But a feather floated down from the sky and when the kids saw this, they went crazy trying to catch it. Apparently it's good luck or you get a wish if you catch a feather. So they were all over each other trying to catch the feather. Then, they kept throwing it up for each other and dropping it from the pile of cinder blocks so they could keep catching it. They were really silly and fun to watch.
These kids I ride home with are really great. They really take care of their teacher. They make sure they wait for me after school and that we all get on the same bus, and the right bus since not all buses go all the way down the island. They also try to sit around me on the bus. They all get off before I do, but they all wave and shout good-byes from the roadside after they get off and the bus moves away. I really love them and I'm lucky to have such great students.

Happy Birthday, Parker!

September 17 - Parker turned two years old! And he's every bit of two. He talks all the time, he's curious about everything, he eats a lot at every meal, he's almost running and goes all over the place, he goes outside to play with his big brothers, but still he's attached to his Mommy and Daddy. He's still learning to share with his younger cousin, and he's practicing picking up his toys, but he knows what he wants and how to get it most of the time. For his birthday, we had oatmeal with dried fruit from a package from the Brants for breakfast and the traditional spaghetti for dinner. Grandmama came through with a cake, which Melesiata almost sat in, and Parker had the first cut. We didn't have any gifts, but he didn't really notice and we've been getting lots of packages lately with gifts for all of us. It was a nice day for all of us. Since then, Parker has been working with his sticker pictures, coloring in his journal, watching the ducklings, and playing with Melesiata. He's already outgrowing some of the clothes we brought. Luckily, it's warm here and clothing is optional for kids this young. We got a kids' toilet seat from Mom and he's been enjoying his trips to the potty. No action yet though. Prayers for quick potty training, though, so he can be trained before we come home, whenever that may be. We appreciate all the prayers you've been sending for us. We really can feel them and they are much needed.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Yesterday we woke up to find that 6 out of the dozen or so duck eggs had hatched! The yellow balls of down were so cute to watch explore their world on their first day. They followed their mother around, ate broken up pancakes we fed them, drank water from the low tray, huddled underneath Mama Duck, tripped over themselves, flapped their one inch wings, and like all children, got under her feet and in Papa Duck's way. So cute to watch. All the kids, even Parker, wanted to stand out there and watch them all day. Today they left their pen and went in search of food. We threw rice out for them. They still run away from us, but keep close to Mama Duck so that's good. We hear them peeping as they travel around. It's a great lesson and will be fun to see them grow up.
The boys each have their responsibilities to contribute to household life: they each have an area of the yard to sweep in the morning, they're learning to draw water from the well since the pipe for the pump broke, and even Parker is helping to clean up around the house. He's very good and picking up his toys and putting them on the shelf. Last week, James helped Conn get some breadfruit out of the tree and off the roof and he cut some papaya out of the tree. Tanielu helped Conn build a chicken coop outside and move the chickens out there.
We're definitely filling our days. We're tired by the end of the day, and ready to go the next morning. And, thank you for your prayers for rain. That day it started raining and rained hard, too. We haven't been worried about the rain again since then. We're also much healthier now. James and Parker have coughs, but otherwise, we're doing well.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Back to school

Well, term 3 has started with a bang. Conn is teaching the class here that I used to teach, and I travel to Betio with Laae and teach the juniors there. We got the scheme for the term last Thursday and spent our weekend planning and preparing for the first week. It went rather well. Seemed like the kids enjoyed our lessons and were learning. We worked on setting up incentives for the kids (those who come to class on time, bring their exercise books, library books, and those who come to the library on the scheduled days), what activities we'll do this term and how we'll assess the students and report to the parents. This week we worked on the 'b' and 'p' sounds (which are practically the same and children here, and adults, have trouble with); nouns; learned a good morning song; read stories and wrote summaries; and wrote about what the children did during the term break. We'll continue with these skills and build on them for next week. We're looking forward to doing puppet shows, songs, skits, reading sight words and key words from our readings, math word problems, and writing sentences leading into paragraphs. (I feel like I'm writing a beginning of the school year letter to parents!) I usually take the bus to Betio, which is an hour long ride, so I get daily reflecting time. The boys stay here with Conn so they get time to play with their friends before class. We found that Parker really likes a couple of marbles he found so we've incorporated them into his therapy to get him to turn his hand over and reach up and out to pass them back and forth with us. He also likes stickers and has made several sticker pictures with them.
Healthwise, we are getting better with only minimal setbacks. Parker's diarrhea seems to be getting better, but he threw up in the night this week, and Tanielu threw up six times yesterday morning. We did go back to the American doctors for a follow up. Since Tanielu was still wheezing some and we had been giving albuterol every 4 hours, he got some steroids to help out. They really did and he's doing much better. His antibiotic worked wonders and almost all his sores are healed. We also got a couple more bottles of children's multi-vitamins. The kids make sure they take them every day, even Parker asks for them. We're hoping and praying that we keep getting better and that this is making us stronger for the rest of our stay. We're taking it term by term, so we're aiming for December. It's hard to justify staying in a place so dirty and contaminated when your kids are so sick... but who wants to travel with vomit and diarrhea? We're instilling the importance of keeping their hands out of their faces and washing themselves with soap twice daily.
Hope all is well Stateside and everyone enjoys your Labor Day weekend. Have a hot dog for us!