Tuesday, August 31, 2010

300th Post!

I had to edit this post so that my 300th post was longer than a sentence, since my WigPosts have a tendency to be more like WigJournals at times, there's a ton of links throughout this, you may have to scroll over to see them, as I can't get blogger to change the color of my links:

"Just stayed up longer than I should have watching this documentary on Monsanto. All I can say is, ugh."

That's all I wrote last night. The following is bonus, for you WigReaders out there!

Today we had our second day of school (MWF is the plan, with fun activities with friends on T/Th). We're using "How to teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons" for reading and Math-U-See for Math. I previously bought the pre-school Rod & Staff curriculum, but am focusing on the essentials right now and may use those at another time.

Below are a few pictures of our school week, taken with my hand-me-down camera which, I recently remembered, was dropped and so it gives a fun funky look to the pictures that almost look like they were on purpose, but they werent. So, I'm preparing to buy a camera, as these may be fun, but they won't do for virtual tour pictures:

Z on his first day of pre-school
Here he and Juju are working on their scavenger hunts
Here's the results of the scavenger hunts, everything green for Juju and a list of backyard finds for Z.

I wish I could say it's been a breeze, but I'm learning as we go, how to help keep Juju occupied and keep Z's interest. I'm figuring out his learning style (more auditory, I think) and his tolerance, focus and frustration levels/triggers academically. I'm finding I work just fine in a loose schedule where I budget twice as long as I think I'll need to do something with him.

Happily, Z really enjoys the reading lessons and has already shown improvement in his blending abilities! Yes, in just two days! Juju worked on counting and colors today. She doesn't know her colors yet, but can count to seven along with me just fine. I'm amazed at how quickly we get through lessons and how much time there is to spare...I even cleaned my bathroom today! I'm not sure what I was doing with my time previously.

I'm reading this wonderful book called, "Plain" about plain living. I love books that inspire me to get off my duff, move more and turn off the t.v. Oh and I made these yummy peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookies on Monday that I can't stop eating. Be sure to switch the measurements for white and brown sugar and to roll them into balls and press them down before cooking. Soooo good!

Finally, I have three blogs I must share with you! One is the travel journal of my mother-in-law from her mission trip to Chad, you might remember she's a mid-wife and delivered Z and Juju. She went and worked with pregnant women and their care providers. The pictures are outstanding!!!

Secondly, since my friend, Rachel suggested it, I've been following Andrea at The Sandbox as she shares her heart, her joys and struggles of breast cancer. She is a homeschooling mom of 5 and I find her inspirational.

Finally, I noticed today that our sweet Marcella updated her blog too! You might notice some of the people in her pictures. Here's a picture of what she made us for dinner the other night:
It was spicy fried rice. The salad on the side was to cool your mouth down. We loved it!

Thanks for reading my really long 300th WigPost!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Miss Marcella

Meet Marcella! The newest addition to our WigFamily. Marcella comes to us through the IVEP (International Volunteer Exchange Program) and is sponsored by two churches where she'll be serving twenty hours a week at each. She will be here for one year.
We've had lots of adventures already and she only arrived last Thursday evening.

Making zucchini brownies

This week we say farewell to my sister-in-law, Debbi, who lived with us this Summer. She spent the first five months of this year in Uganda and we celebrated this past Monday with a big Ugandan dinner. She returns to Messiah College this weekend as a junior studying anthropology and sociology. I learned a lot from this amazing little sister of mine and know she will do great things in the future. Marcella likes her a lot too! Debbi knows what it's like to go to a country and live with a foreign family who doesn't speak your native language, and has taught us a lot through sharing her experiences.

We're getting ready to go to the grocery store for the first time since Marcella's arrival and I'm excited to see what she thinks. It's been interesting to learn how very different our cultures are, and yet how much we have in common as humans. Marcella is always smiling and very patient with our children...in fact she's listening to an interesting story that Z is telling her right now about smashing things. I'm off to rescue her...

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Daddy

Yup! It's my Dad's birthday! Time to get out the old pictures and brag on him a bit. Truly, he is an international man of mystery. I don't know really what he does for a living, I never have. He always said, "I could tell you, but then I'd have to shoot you." Did I mention he was the one who taught me the Willie poems? He's got a very dry sense of humor, living in England for 16 years only encouraged this.
Here he is with my mom in 1974.
They got married a year later and celebrated 35 years this year.

We went on lots of adventures together. Here we are on a hike. He would later take mom and me to 27 countries and just as many states (not by piggyback). We loved to travel as a family, although he's been to countless countries without us now, how many passports have you filled, Dad?
All our earthly possessions were packed and we were on our way to California from Tennessee for Dad's linguistics school, it took a week to get there, and we broke down in the desert. That was the first of many moves for me. My Dad would forevermore write out his Christmas list in Persian, Farsi.
My Dad is an artist. He's one of those very complex people that can program a computer and paint a masterpiece too. He can also sing. Our special song we always sing together is, "Get a Job" by the Sha Na Nas. I loved when he sang in a barbershop quartet while we lived in Maryland. He can sing the really really low notes.
My family in 1983
I may have won a mother-daughter look-alike contest with my mom when I was sixteen...
...but there's no room for milkman jokes, he is clearly my Dad.
In 1997 he gave me away. Can you tell we love each other? We do, to pieces actually. He also shared with me a love for God. Growing up I'd jump onto Mom and Dad's bed for family Bible time and I recall great discussions on theology as a teenager. Remember the lemmings, Dad? He always has great analogies and maybe should have been a preacher.

Nine long years later, he became a Grandpa, and then I learned something about my Dad.

He loves our kids as much as he loves me and Ben. It's so fun to watch him with Z and Juju as he just comes alive. He can hardly say no to them and Z has caused serious (and irreversible) damage to my Dad's ipad in the past...twice. His interest in photography was reborn with the birth of our children and can be thanked for the wonderful catalog of pictures we have of them. He loves being a Grandpa, which is a very good thing indeed.
I hope you have a very happy birthday on Friday, the 13th, Dad! Such a fitting day for you, my funny, creative Dad, who loves Alfred Hitchcock (and shares a birthday with him) and who always has a Groucho Marx quote at the ready. I wish Germany wasn't so far away. I'm giving you hugs in my heart right now, wishing they were big bear hugs in person. I love you to pieces and always will.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Friday's Adventures

Yesterday, Ben and his sister, Debbi, went to Kidron, Ohio to help some new friends of ours, Olin and Karen Geiser, slaughter about 80 chickens. They each had their part in the cleaning of them. Then they went to the Tuscarawas River and kayaked about 14 miles. They left at 7am and came home a little after 6pm...exhausted and stinky. Neither one took any pictures of either adventure and neither one is prone to showing much excitement, but Debbi said last night, "It was my kind of day."
They did bring back a few "mouse melons" from the Geiser farm. They look like little watermelons, hence the name "sandita" in Spanish ("little watermelon") but taste more like cucumbers. Here's where you can find the seeds to grow this recently rediscovered heirloom that evidently tastes good on salads. Z is not a big fan of their slighly sour taste, but I think they're neat! I'm still figuring out my new camera, sorry the focus is off! Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 2, 2010

A really long post that gets more exciting as it goes!

The bountiful harvest from our community garden. Notice I don't show you a picture of all the weeds in the garden. That's symbolic for something worth mentioning. Below I will share with you much of the bountiful harvest God's given us in our lives. Please don't assume that our lives are perfect or that we are because we share our happy news with you. We'll share the yuck too, but only in metered doses due to the public nature of this medium. We are sinners, who somebody had to die for and we are completely undeserving of all the good that we share. Come, rejoice with us!!

Good ole' Gwennie and Wing-Wing (above)

Meet "Stumpy" our foster chicken. We took her in after her pen mates were pecking her to death (literally) a good month ago. This is the first time she's been able to have her picture taken, she was in too bad of shape for public viewing. The picture definitely shows her better side. Her back end is still naked as a jay bird. Her name was "Frizz" as she's a Frizzle breed, but she had a Biblical name change after her wing feathers were completely pecked off, now all you see are little stumps like you dip in sauce on Wing Night. She's the smallest of the chickens because she's a bantam but she is the oldest and subsequently our only "layer" right now. We get one small egg a day from old Stumpy. She's feisty, runs with a giant waddle that makes me laugh out loud and lays her eggs in the corner of the coop where she makes her nest since she can't fly up to the laying boxes.

We had a rough week this week with the chickens and lost our Mutsu (above left). We actually lost two chickens this week, but after a brown tailed hawk swooped down to attack, the remaining 8 chickens ran into the corn field behind us to hide and came back with one of the missing chickens (a no name Welsummer) and so we have nine. We had some hope that Mutsu might also make a miraculous return, but our hope is dwindling as each day passes. Her Polish buddy, Ping, misses her very much, but is beginning to move on with her life. Glad I took these pictures the day before she went missing!

Remember in a previous chicken post, that beautiful chick who, I said, should be named because she's so beautiful, but we hadn't thought of anything? Well, we thought of a name! Meet "Mrs. Crooked Toes"! Yes, she's married. It's arranged anyways, Mr. Rooster will be joining the flock shortly (each hen has chosen to keep her own last name for the sake of individuality in their polygamist family- I checked and this is kosher for chickens). I'm praying we don't lose anymore chickens, we've gone from 11 of our own to 8, plus Stumpy makes nine now.

The above are the last of the pictures taken with my camera. Ben took it apart to fix the smoking problem it had and we agreed it wasn't worth trying to put back together. Thankfully, my mom gave me her old camera a while back and if I can find the charger for it's battery I'll be in business again. I kinda need to find it before I get another order for virtual tours. I did three last week. I don't think taking panoramic shots with my cell phone would be a good idea.

I have a confession. I've been holding out on you all. Big time. My laundry life has been so exciting that I'm not even sure why you've ever read this blog before now. I've decided to come out of the closet, the time has come. Hold on to your britches! I have been making my own laundry detergent since January of this year. I liked it so much I found a recipe for fabric softener too. Then I started making shampoo for Ben. He loves it. I haven't told you all because I didn't want it to be a passing phase I was going through, like, "Guess what I'm doing everybody!" but then stop doing it, y'know? So, now that I've been doing it for seven months, I can officially share with the world what I'm doing. I also bought a drying rack from Amish country last Fall and hung our laundry to dry in front of the wood stove all winter long. Spring came and I took a break from hang drying, but was reinspired when Ben's sister, Debbi, moved in with us for the Summer. She hand washed all her clothes when she moved in as she spent her Spring semester in Uganda. She now lets us throw her clothes in the wash with ours, but she still bathes out of a bucket like she did there.

Anyways, the move to make my own laundry detergent came when our friend, Matt Sebree, sent me this recipe:

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Yields 10 gallons. (cost approx. $5-$8 dollars a batch)


4 cups of hot tap water
1 bar of Burt's Bee's body soap or any other natural soap you feel safe using
1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super washing Soda (not baking soda and not the A & H laundry detergent)
1/2 cup of Borax

Equipment needed:

Cheese grater
5 gallon bucket with lid (an ale pale with a spigot works great)
Tall stirring spoon
Smaller containers for dispensing


1. Grate bar of soap into sauce pan with hot tap water and still continually over medium heat until dissolved
2. Fill 5 gallon bucket half full with hot tap water.
3. Add melted soap, washing soda, and borax.
4. Stir well until dissolved and fill bucket to the 5 gallon mark with more hot tap water.
5. Stir, cover, and allow to sit overnight.
6. Optional: add an essential oils such as lavender, rosemary or tea tree oil (good anti-bacterial oil)

This 5 gallons of liquid is your concentrate, to use:

1. Stir well
2. Mix it 50/50 with water in an old laundry detergent bottle for easy dispensing.
3. Use 1/2 cup with regular washing machines or 1/4 cup in HE machines.

This batch will yield 10 gallons of chemical free and safe laundry detergent.
Can be used as a pre-treatment
For an inexpensive alternative to fabric softener, add 1 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle (will not leave smell and increase the absorbency of your towels)

One batch lasted our family of four (and random guests who stay for weeks/months at a time) six months. So, I just made my second batch of it. It makes a ton!!! Note: Use hot/warm water to dilute at the end, as it ends up super lumpy otherwise. I have tried two different laundry softener recipes and much much much prefer this one to the recipes that have one to one ratio of baking soda and vinegar as the baking soda ends up all over the laundry room. I used this website to pick out a good shampoo recipe. I make the Step 2: Stimulate recipe for Ben and am still searching for the perfect recipe for me. Next on my "make it myself" agenda is HAIR GEL! I found this recipe and am excited to try it!

Finally, I saved the best for last! On August 19th, our family will welcome a 24 year old girl from Jakarta, Indonesia who will live with us for one year! She is sort of a missionary to America. She comes to us via the IVEP program (International Volunteer Exchange Program) and is sponsored by two churches. One of the churches has a coffee shop as a ministry and she'll be working there twenty hours a week and the other church is ours, where she'll be doing random miscellaneous jobs for twenty hours a week. We are excited to meet her, get to know her personality and culture. Maybe we'll even learn how to make some Indonesian food! We are busy preparing her room and reorganizing the house for her arrival. We look forward to meeting you, Marcella!

Good news! I found the charger, it was labeled "CAMERA" Thanks for the clue, Dad! Thanks for the hand-me-down, Mom!!