Monday, July 26, 2010

Internet Shipping Woes With Various Merchants

Usually I do not have problems with online shopping.  Lately, it seems, things just haven't been going my way.  I suppose that considering the amount of shopping I do online, I am bound to have problems at some point.

My first incident was with Discount School Supply.  Let me say right up front, it was NOT their fault.  It was the fault of our stupid mail drop.  Discount School Supply was AWESOME!  I received a fast, personal response to my question.  I couldn't believe that it wasn't a generic script.  This was a conversation with an actual English speaking person who was trying to help me even though my situation was not their fault.  The customer service rep helped me come up with a few possible solutions.  They truly went above and beyond.  I even fell below minimum purchase for free shipping (not to mention they had to ship things out more than once for me!) and they refunded money to me for the undeliverable merchandise but did NOT charge me for shipping.  I love Discount School Supply.  They have fun things, good prices, and the best customer service I have encountered.  Even so, I had to deal with it and was disappointed by the whole mail drop issue that I couldn't resolve.

Next, I placed an order with Toys R Us.  They were having a fantastic sale on Thomas Wooden Railroad things.  Some of the items were 50% off!  I am not a big Thomas fan (probably an anti-Thomas, person actually), but Justin and Ryan like the stuff.  How could I resist this (and some of the other) sales?  It was a one day thing, and I quickly took advantage!  Got my order confirmation and was good to go, or so I thought.  A few days later I get an e-mail saying that my order was canceled because of an error with my billing address.  Please contact my credit card company if it isn't correct, blah, blah.  The only thing I could come up with was that Toys R Us refused to allow the apostrophe that my billing address contains.  Back and forth I went in e-mails with their customer service.  FINALLY I got someone who told me that it wasn't my billing address, it was my IP address, they just didn't have an error message for that.  Well, indeed I am ordering from outside of the US. They have sent me things here before without any problem, so what was the issue?  I was told I could re-order, but the sale was over so things would be full price.  Great deal, huh?  I was ticked!  Phone calls and e-mails were not very helpful.  Ironically, I became a "fan" of Toys R Us on facebook and it was there that I actually got some real help.  From there I was able to get information that would actually help.  Eventually, I got my order at the sale prices.  It was a lot of work though.  I thought that since I had a confirmation number, tracking number, etc. and they canceled my order without contacting me first that it should be easy to fix, but no.  They made me fight for my sale items.

Last month I wanted to take advantage of a sale at Linens and Things and get a comforter for Ryan since he is sleeping in a twin bed.  When I would get to checkout, it kept telling me that my credit card could not be processed at this time.  I thought it was a problem with the site, so I tried again later.  I decided that it might be a problem with my IP address, since I was ordering from Namibia.  I have had that problem before.  I decided to block my IP address and try again.  Unfortunately, our internet is so slow here that when I did that, my session would time out.  Frustrating!  I noted that they take paypal, so I decided to pay that way.  I forgot to unblock my IP address first, so Paypal put a hold on my account because they had reason to believe someone was trying to access my account fraudulently.  Sigh.  It took awhile to get things squared away with them.  It was a bit of a pain, but I understand why they did it and don't blame them.  Just an annoyance for me.

A week or so later, I decided to set up an iTunes account.  I don't have an ipod, iphone, or ipad, but have been exploring my options.  I went to sign up and it told me that my e-mail already had an account.  Oops!  I figured that I had set one up sometime and just forgotten.  I had it reset my password via e-mail.  I signed in and set a new password.  I looked at my security questions and they were bizarre.  They weren't mine!  Then I noticed that the account was set up for a Larry B--complete with address, phone number, etc.  Guess he must have a very similar e-mail address because I can't see any benefit of him giving my e-mail address instead of his own.  I sent iTunes an e-mail.  They said they would take care of it.  They were very prompt with their reply.  Unfortunately, it has been 22 days and they haven't taken Larry's credit card or other info off.  I also have credit.  Poor Larry B is now locked out of his account.  He hasn't used it for about 15 months, so maybe he doesn't care.  My friend, LT, had trouble with iTunes charges on her credit card for several purchases that she did not make.  Now I am a little wary of iTunes.  Anyone else have problems with them?

I wish my sister were here.  I would rant and rave and tell her my woes and have her write my blog.  I just find that I am not very motivated to make these the great stories I know she could make out of them.

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Under $20

Remember in China how I was always so impressed with how much I could get for so little?  My Namibian shopping experiences are not at all like my experience in China.  I have to take a pasta salad to a party on Saturday.  According to the recipe it serves 12, but since it is a potluck side dish I figure it will serve more.  

  • Medium jar of mayo (generic was $1.90 cheaper a jar than Hellman's)
  • Red wine vinegar (hopefully!  Didn't see any red wine vinegar at the store, but decided brown grape vinegar might be it.  Generic was $6.28 cheaper than German brand)
  • Black olives (jar, but equivalent of a can of olives in the US)
  • 1 kg of spiral pasta (saved just over $4 by getting non-colored over tri-colored)
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 4 tomatoes

Maybe I am just really cheap and out of touch with US prices, but this seemed like it cost a lot. Often there is not a choice of brand. Since some of the items here had a local or imported option, I was able to save. For produce I got the cheapest option. All the produce was looking pretty dismal.  There are some other ingredients that I already have on hand.  We will see how it tastes.  Perhaps I should have spent $12 to get "quality" ingredients. 

Of course I also purchased additional items including 1.06 gallons of milk ($6.85) and 17 cough drops ($3.32).  The cough drops taste like burped up sausage, though they claim to be cherry flavored.  I think I will stop coughing just to avoid using one.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Eggplant Recipe?

When we lived in China we used to go to a nearby restaurant and get an eggplant dish that I absolutely LOVED.  I never knew eggplant could be so delicious.  So today when I was on and saw they had a Chinese site, I wondered if perhaps that site might have a dish similar to the one I loved so much.  Well, they might; I am afraid that even with (or perhaps because of) the babelfish translation of the page, I will never know.  I think this one is close though!
0 Easy Altogether takes time: 25 minutes
Prepares 10 minutes to manufacture 15 minutes

Component: 3

The daily family activity eggplant is together the delicacy the good for both young and old cooked food. The land has the different cooking method color fragrance to be but complete.

Preparation material
Eggplant 500 grams
Tender garlic stem 2
Green pepper 3
Auricularia auricula 50 grams
Oil 7 buckets
Thick bean sauce 1 bucket
Soy sauce 1 bucket
Salt, monosodium glutamate respectively right amount
Water starch 1 bucket
Chili oil 1 bucket

Manufacture method

1. Peels the cleaning the eggplant, slivers the length 4 centimeters, thick 1 centimeter strip; Slivers the section the tender garlic stem cleaning; Slivers the scrap the green pepper.

2. On the wok burns down the heat, puts in the oil 4 buckets, pours into the eggplant strip to turn fries several, adds the salt, bakes receives basically to the eggplant strip moisture content does, bails out the oil asphalt is ready to be used dry.

3. The wok gets angry again, puts in the oil 3 buckets, fries the fragrant thick bean sauce, gets down the tender garlic stem section, the auricularia auricula and the blue hot pepper block fries the fragrance, pours into the eggplant strip, uses the soy sauce to blend flavors again, the water used starch thickens soup, to drench into the chili oil to fry uniform then.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

18 Months Already!

Last week TB (short for Tiny Baby since I am trying so hard not to call him Tiny or Tiny Baby anymore) turned 18 months.  A friend of mine was coming up with ideas for her son's birthday cake, so I decided that half birthdays are great reasons to have a cake and made one for TB.  I ate about half of it.  Oops.  I also discovered that I need to call way in advance for well baby checkups with the pediatrician.  We don't get in until July 6th.  Evidently there are only 6 pediatricians for a country the size of California (much smaller population though).  Oh well.  Don't really have concerns about how he is doing so it isn't that big of a deal.

To add to Ryan's previous word list, he can now also say:
snack (meaning fruit snacks, something Justin didn't even know about at 18 months!)
boo boo
Momo (name of toy hamster)
Justin (hard to understand, but consistent)
Diego (and Go, Diego, go)
Bo Bo (as in Bo Bo brother monkeys from Diego)
Click (from Diego)
llama (because of Diego)
Oh man!  (from Dora the Explorer)
teamwork (from Wonder pets.  He doesn't know what it is, but he knows it is what's going to work.)
Ha! Ha! Ha!

I think that these are new.  I was writing a list on the back of an envelope and tried not to make duplicates, but without having the other list in front of me I am not sure.  Regardless, even if every single one was a duplicate, Ryan can say much more than Justin's 10 words at 18 months.  I am surprised Ryan can say anything at all because Justin never shuts up!  When he runs out of things to say he just kind of stalls with mumbles as he looks around the room for an idea for a new topic.  I think sometimes he even bores himself, but he keeps at it.  Could we have a future lawyer or politician?  He is pretty creative with excuses too.

TB is already sleeping in a twin bed (with the toddler bed beside to "catch" him if he rolls off) while Justin was in the crib until we needed it for Ryan. He is climbing, jumping, and doing a lot of the things that Justin is doing now.  Maybe he will decide to use the potty soon.  Yeah, right.

Justin is Ryan's favorite person, with Diego a close second.  Too bad it isn't them that Ryan calls for in the middle of the night.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Happy Birthday to Meredith!

     This year my sister, Meredith, has been writing nice tributes to family members on their birthdays.  Since I doubt that she will write one for herself, I decided that I should write one.  Hopefully, she will put a link on her blog to mine so that her friends can see how wonderful I think she is. 
     I don't have the writing ability or creativity that Meredith has.  To do her justice I should have started on this long ago.  I won't put it off until next year though.  It seems to me that all too often people put off saying nice things about people until they die.  It is nice to be able to share stories and memories about someone who has died, but isn't it nice to tell the person while they are still alive?
     Meredith and I are very different.  We have very little in common, yet I always enjoy the time I spend with her.  She is incredibly creative and that comes through in just about everything she does.  I love her writing, her drawing, her pictures, her crafts, and the way she is able to recount simple, everyday things in a way that has you on the edge of your seat.  To get a letter from Meredith means a handmade envelope, a cute little doodle, or witty words.  To have her tell you about something she saw or did is like you were there yourself.  I really admire her talent.  I often think that I have some good ideas, but not the talent to do with them the things she could do.  Maybe I am just lazy, but I feel like I would have to work so hard to come up short of what I see her regularly achieve.
     I see myself as a rather boring person.  I like to be safe, comfortable, and secure.  That may seem like an odd statement from someone who currently lives in Africa and moves every 2 or 3 years.  I don't like to take risks.  Meredith dreams big and finds ways to make it work.   I love the way she makes bold choices that I would never make.  She doesn't go for easy, she goes for exciting.  I would be a nervous wreck living the way she does, but I love that she does it.  I think that when she looks back on her life she will have very few regrets of things she did not do.
It was hard to decide what to write and what pictures to include.  I started with a huge pile, but realized that I needed to choose only a few.  I tried to find some that people may not have seen of her.  The first is pictures of sweet little Meredith when she was a newborn.  She is ten years younger than I am and seven years younger than our brother.  We were so excited to have a baby sister and we loved her to death.  At four pounds, four ounces she was like a doll.  Even at an early age she was her own person.  She had the cutest little facial expressions and she knew how to SCREAM!
This next picture was taken the second time we lived in Belgium.  I don't know exactly how old she was when it was taken, but kindergarten age is the oldest she could have been.  She decided that she wanted to marry someone we knew from church.  She made him a picture and I think considered it an engagement.  What a good sport he was!  Don't you just love Meredith's Rainbow Brite dress?  Very 80's.  She had a lot of clothes with personality including two jackets.  The purple one was Michael Jacket and the pink one was Janet Jacket.  How cute is that? 

Meredith and I generally got along.  Sure there was the normal squabbling that you would expect siblings to have, but with so many years between us we weren't competitive or anything.  She was my baby sister and I loved being a big sister to her.  When we did have fights, arguments, or whatever you want to call them, they didn't last long.  This is a note that she wrote to me near the end of my senior year.  She would have been just shy of eight years old.

Here is a picture of Miss Meredith A Bak playing T-ball.  Even at a young age she was good at sports. :P

I wish I knew when this picture was taken.  Obviously it was some Christmas.  I believe it was between 1991 and 1994, but no guarantee.  We decided to be "Bow Legged Sisters" though I am not sure why.
This is another Christmas picture.  I would guess it is also 1991 to 1994, but not the same Christmas as the previous picture.  Our dad had (and still has) a tendency to call Meredith my name.  One time she had a friend come over and when he answered the door he greeted her and said, "you must be Kathryn's friend."  Poor Meredith.  (In defense of my dad, I only have two children and I can't keep their names straight.  Not only do I call them each other's names, I call them my siblings' names as well!)  My dad had labeled some of our Christmas presents and we decided to label ourselves to make things easier for him.
Meredith has always been creative.  In high school she was into drama.  Here is a program from Meredith Madness II.  (Yes, there was a first Meredith Madness too.)  She wrote and directed all of the plays AND acted in most of them.  She has the ability to crack me up.  In college she continued to be part of a drama group that performed as far away as Hawaii.  Don't take a big sip of a drink when Meredith is talking, or you might just have it come spraying out your nose as you laugh.
This last picture is one drawn by Meredith to represent our family on a trip we took to Yellowstone in May of 2001.  There is our dad, mom, me, Meredith, our brother (Nathan), and his wife (Amy) holding their son, David.  Nathan and his family were living in Colorado at the time, I was living in Maryland, and Meredith was home from college for the summer.  Now I understand Meredith is not going to have pictures hung in museums as great masterpieces of our time, but I love her style.  She has made posters, books, shirts, and other things featuring her cartoonish art work.  It always brightens my day to see something that she has drawn.

I had hoped to go through this yesterday and fix it up a bit, but I had a migraine and didn't even turn on the computer.  There was something else that I wanted to add, but I can't remember what it was.  It will have to go online as is.  Sorry, dear Meredith, that it is not better.  I love you.  Happy, Happy, Birthday!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cleaning for the Maid

Not too long ago, I read a post on Facebook about cleaning before the maid came to clean.  I could identify with Sheena's post and, based on the comments, it seemed that a lot of other people could too.  Now it isn't like I clean the windows or vacuum or anything before she comes, but I figure I need to try to get a lot of the clutter put away.  How well can she really clean if I have things out that she needs to clean around?  Nice to know that in cleaning for the maid I am not alone.  I do have some issues though.  I haven't found anyone who can clean things right.
"Wow!" is what I know you are thinking.  What an incredibly together person this Kathryn is to have things so perfect that no one else can reach those standards.  Yeah, not even close.  I can be completely unbothered by an inch of dust on the bookshelves or some other thing that you would think would annoy me.  It is in the little things.  See this picture of how the canisters were put back after the kitchen was cleaned today?
I know, you are wondering what it is about them.  Is it the missing wooden spoon?  Nope.  I broke that long ago.  Could it be the pill container sitting on the tall canister?  No.  That's where I like it.  Is it that they are not evenly spaced with the fronts centered?  Kind of.  The brown sugar canister (the one without the spoon) should be centered under the outlet as shown in the picture below.  THAT is the correct way for it to be.
I have many, many little "things" like this.  I know they are things that shouldn't matter and they really don't.  If Rob were to clean the kitchen and have the canisters back incorrectly, that would be okay because it would be thoughtful of his to have cleaned.  If I have them back the wrong way, that's okay because it means that I was in a hurry or preoccupied.  If my main focus was cleaning though, I would do it the correct way.  So having someone come in to clean and then not do things "right" bothers me.  It primarily bothers me that I notice it and want to (and often do) fix it.  I think that I am jealous that I don't have the opportunity to give a cleaning task my undivided attention the way I would if I were my own maid.  Hmmm... there's an idea. 

Now Rob is probably just shaking his head if he reads this.  He is wonderful and encourages me to have someone help with the house to take some of the load off of me.  Guess he will think this just proves that no one can do anything right and make me happy.  That isn't true. I was always in a great mood in Japan after Bimala had cleaned our place.  She didn't always get the spacing of items on the bookshelves quite right.  I noticed, but I was able to move on.

Oh.  Yes, Mom, I am taking my zoloft.  :)  See how well adjusted I am to notice these kinds of things and be able to deal with them?

Friday, May 14, 2010

(Plumbing) Repairs in Namibia

Okay, so we seem to have a leak in a water pipe or something outside.  The plumbers arrived quickly. Yep, three of them to check things out.  That was over an hour ago.  Now there are only two of them.  Guess one is the driver.  English (which is Namibia's official language so I don't want anyone giving me a hard time about expecting people to speak English rather than learn the language of the country) is not their strong suit.  Hopefully plumbing is because it appears that all the brick walk along side the house is now dug up.  Great.  Can you say loooooooooong project?

I hate having people come to repair, inspect, or do anything.  It is so much work.  I knew we were off to a typical start when I was asked if I had a mop.  Evidently, they meant plunger.  I gave them a plunger and they wanted to know if I had a better one.  Hello??  Maybe you should bring some tools.  (I know, what am I thinking?  We have had people using rocks as hammers until we have lent a real hammer.)  THEN I am asked for an adapter so they can charge the cell phone.  It has a European plug not a funky Namibian/South African one.  THEN they asked me to feed them.  I don't mind providing drinks when people are working but (1) they are not working.  The two of them are hanging out in the shade sitting on my chairs waiting (I am assuming) for guy #3 to come back with equipment.  (2) This is not a luncheon.  I did not plan on feeding you today.  I give them bread and fruit along with some lemonade.  This is done primarily because these guys are working on my water and I don't want to get them upset at me because heaven knows what they could do to mess things up or draw out the process forever.  I TRY to assume that it is just cultural because I know that workers are usually provided meals or meal allowance as part of wages.  They are already ticked that I don't have coffee for them.  Sigh.

Meanwhile it seems that every time I try to do something they need to be let in or out or have the power turned off or something.  I kind of need to be available to them and I don't all together trust them either so I have to keep an eye on them.  I guess we really need to have the pipe fixed though, so what can I do?

Monday, May 10, 2010

And She's Out!

Okay, so this morning (it was still Mother's Day in Idaho where my mom lives) I was wishing my mom a happy Mothers Day and chatting with her as I often do on her Sunday evening/my Monday morning.  I am in the play room with TB.  He is watching Go Diego Go while I am talking away.  Justin wakes up and comes in.  He sees Grandma on the computer screen and says a quick "hi" before starting in on his wish list.  He tells Grandma that he wants party blowers, pudding, and various other things.  She sends us a lot of packages, but the way Justin rattles off his list like he is sitting on Santa's lap telling all about what he wants for Christmas.  I don't think he understands how lucky we are to have someone like her in our lives.

So after he has made his wish list known, he decides to go over and watch Diego with his brother.  Of course the episode that is on is not acceptable to Justin so he starts whining for me to change it.  Wanting a few more minutes of quiet so I can talk with my mom, I get up to grab the remote and skip to the next episode.  I pick up my laptop as I stand and walk over by the TV.  Next thing I know, I am on the floor, my laptop is on its side, Ryan is shaking his sippy cup (his not-so-subtle way of saying he wants more) while Justin is complaining that I haven't changed the show.  Evidently I passed out.  My back and head are now sore and I am developing quite a bruise on my foot where the laptop hit it.

Been feeling lightheaded all day.  It's the day AFTER Mothers Day though, so I guess I need to try to push forward.  The day of rest is over.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Neglecting the Blog

Rob went back to the US for over two weeks and I have certainly been neglecting this blog.  Life was even more boring than usual in terms of things to write about.   The boys kept me VERY busy, but there was nothing really to say about going through the chores of the day and keeping the kids under control.  Now that he is back, I am hoping that things get back to a comfortable level of boring with some fun thrown in every now and then.
I have been blogging, however.  I have been working on a new blog.  It is called Ways I Entertain My Kids and it is located at .  Its purpose is to remind me of the things that I do to keep my kids busy.  When Ryan gets older, I can repeat some of the activities.  If I go back to teaching, some of the ideas might be useful there as well.  Anyway, I decided to put them in a separate blog because I write enough about my kids to begin with.  If you don't have kiddos the same ages as mine you probably don't want to hear about nursery rhyme crafts or their favorite toys in detail.  Even if you do have kids the same ages you might not want to hear about that.  So anyway, look if you want.  I plan on keeping most of the ideas VERY simple.  I am not trying to be Martha Stewart or some sort of child entertainment genius.  I am going with what gets me through the day.  Soon I will probably have a post about the kids playing in the boxes that their toys come in.  Sometimes the boxes are better than the toys!  So really, it will be down to earth, nothing fancy.  Any "special" materials I have will be leftover from my teaching days and things that can be easily improvised in a simpler fashion.  I just wanted my school stuff to be durable so I didn't have to make it again every other week. :)
Enjoy or ignore.  It is primarily for me.  I think the boys will enjoy it later in life too. :)

Monday, April 05, 2010

Will I Ever Sleep?

Towards the end of March, Ryan was not sleeping well at all. No new teeth appear to be coming in. Most times he would wake up I could find no real reason. Sure there was the occasional (too frequent in my mind) loud nice that would wake him up, but most of the time I had no idea why he would decide to scream instead of sleep.
I have always believed that Ryan has the potential to be a good sleeper. While things like crying it out didn't work for Justin, I felt that Ryan was different. Unfortunately, to allow him to do this disturbs Justin. It is bad enough to have one of them up in the night, but to start a cycle where both of them are up and cranky is more than I was willing to handle. This past week Ryan finally pushed me to the point of trying the cry it out method with him.
Now Justin would cry and cry until he would either throw up or he would fall asleep pulled up to the bars in the crib, fall over, and then wake up again. Ryan likes to fling his body around violently. He will hit his head or manage to hurt himself and get bruised up. I didn't care. I was going to let him scream his high pitched, blood curdling, I-am-going-to-die scream. Ten minutes later, there was a loud crash followed by brief silence and then continuation of the screaming. TB mastered the art of climbing out of his crib.
Because he has been such a climber, this probably shouldn't be such a surprise. He has always been too zoned out in his crib to try it. Often in the night he would stand in the crib and face the wall while calling for me. Sometimes he would just be in there sitting, too groggy to even get his balance. No longer! We have graduated to a toddler bed now, like it or not.
The first night was very rough. By the third and fourth night, things weren't so bad. He may choose to initially fall asleep on the floor rather than his bed, but he does fall asleep. I sit in the room until he doses off. Ryan has only gotten up once for each of the past two nights. J
Unfortunately, now it is Justin's turn to not sleep. He got me up FOUR times on Saturday night and three times last night. Half the time I can't understand what he is saying. Last night he told me that he wanted his mommy. Uh-huh. I told him I was Mommy and that seemed to satisfy him so he could go back to sleep for awhile. Tiny also sometimes cries in the night and will then push me away and call for Mommy. These boys just have sleep issues. Great. By the time they start sleeping well regularly, I will probably no longer be able to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time. L
Is it a wonder that I am in such a brain fog half of the time?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Religious Confusion?

I had been trying to explain to Rob where something was in Namibia and of course he knows street names and I know landmarks.  I thought that the white and baby blue mosque would be a good landmark he would know, but it wasn't.  Only fair I guess since it turns out the street is Sam Nujoma, a major street here.  I should have know that, but I digress...
Islamic Center and Quba Mosque, Windhoek

     As we were approaching the intersection, I pointed out the small corner grocery store that carries limes and fresh cilantro as well as a few other hard to find things.  Justin noticed the mosque and wanted to know what it was.  I told him that it was a mosque, a kind of church.  He wanted to go to that church.  I tried to explain to him that there are lots of different churches and that this church was not ours, it was for Muslims.  All of this, of course, going over his head.
He insisted that he is a Muslim.  I told him that he was not.  He became upset with me and said that I called him a Muslim when we lived in Japan.  This had me quite puzzled.  I could not think of why he would think that.  Seemed pretty random to me.  I could not come up with any possible scenario in which I would call him a Muslim.  He had to clarify for me. 

"Mom, you used to call me the Muslim when I was little!"  That statement was enough to help me figure it out.  Justin's nickname for a long time was Muzz or The Muzz.  His memory, connections, and misunderstandings amaze me.  What a sweet little Muzz he is. :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Easter Party

So, pretty obvious who didn't like the Easter Bunny. I figured that we should have a picture taken anyway. This is a snapshot of how it was for TB at Easter. Justin, on the other hand, was a bit amused. He told me that it wasn't a real rabbit, just a person playing hide-and-seek in a costume. Luckily he didn't look for the person. That would have been a bit  awkward.    

Justin had a blast dying eggs. Next week we will be dying some at home. I am hoping that the novelty of egg dying has passed and he will be able to choose more colors than blue AND be able to keep his hands out of the dye. His hands remained quite blue today. Always lovely.

All the egg hunting, egg dying, and eating, must have worn him out because Justin took a nice nap.  Too bad his brother didn't follow his lead.  Too bad Justin didn't want to go to bed tonight because he had a nap.  Sigh.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Easter Bunny's On Its Way

Tomorrow we are going to an Easter party.  We will see if the boys have a good time or are too freaked out by an Easter Bunny the size of an adult human.  Hopefully we will have some cute pictures to put up for tomorrow.  For today, here is a picture of the cookies Justin and I made.  How great is it to have a little kid?  Me making them with him is fun and cute.  A woman in her 30s who is not particularly talented in the area of cooking is a bit strange.  See, he makes what could be strange and turns it into fun and cute.
The bunny face cookie cutter was something that my mom sent us along with other Easter goodies.  Thanks, Mom!  We didn't use the flower cookie cutter yet though.  It is more of a spring kind of thing and I am afraid that fall is definitely on its way.  Still dark at 6:00 am and right now (6:30ish pm) I am watching a gorgeous sunset.  I know they will be fun to decorate in the spring though, and TB will be old enough to help!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Smarter than Mommy?

Ryan already thinks that he can outsmart Mommy.  Sadly enough, he often can.  He loves to torment his brother, so I try to keep him away from his big brother whenever Justin is in the bathroom or doing something quietly in his bedroom.

The bedroom area in our house consists of a long, narrow hallway with the master bedroom on one end, Justin's room on the other, and Ryan's room, the boy's bathroom, and the half bath on one side.  The half bath is in a bit deeper than the other rooms, and we have a linen closet and the dirty clothes hamper tucked inside that little nook.
When Ryan is annoying his brother, I yell at him, chase him, shoo him away, or something of the sort.  He has determined that the wisest course of action is to leave when asked, hide out in the little nook, and once I have walked past him, return to annoying his brother.  This plan worked only a couple of times (at least that I know of!) before I caught on.  See, he will probably have to be at least 18 months before he can fool me all of the time! 

One time when I chased him out of the bathroom and he hid in his clever little hiding spot, I continued past him just a little bit and then turned to wait to see what he did.  The look of smugness on his face was priceless, as was the look when he realized that he had been caught.  Sneaky little boy!  We both laughed!

A couple of times when I have been singing to him before a nap or bed, he has pretended to be asleep.  I don't know what the point of that is.  I put him in his crib and leave.  He gets ticked off and we begin the process again.  Guess he doesn't think all of his plans through yet.  That's okay, neither do I.

Ryan continues to amaze me with how much he understands.  He knows where things belong, he knows what he should and shouldn't be doing, and he knows how to at least try to be sneaky.  He is stubborn and fights to get what he wants.  He will intentionally injure himself for attention.  I can just see his little thought process. "Oh, Mommy isn't giving me undivided attention.  I will show her by flinging my body backwards into space and hitting my head and doing heaven only knows what else in the process.  My fake cry is lousy, but if I am hurt I can sure shriek.  Maybe there will even be blood or bruising..."

Justin Be Nimble!

Since the boys both continue to enjoy the nursery rhyme Jack Be Nimble, I decided to have Justin make his own little candlestick.  He painted a paper plate and a toilet paper tube.  You can see in the picture that we only had a leftover birthday paper plate.  I cut the center out, as the plate was so big, and used some of the outer edge as the holder for the candleholder.  After the paint dried, I cut the bottom of the toilet paper tube so I could staple it to the plate.  I also stapled on the handle.  I know, that means that Justin wasn't doing it himself, but who really wants to deal with a frustrated 3 year old?  We added some torn tissue paper as a flame.  Yay!  I wonder how many days hours it will last before one or both boys destroy it?  I kind of hope soon so I can throw it out before it becomes a sacred treasure.  We have a small pillar candle that we use to act out the rhyme so we don't need anymore clutter.  I just thought that Justin would enjoy painting a little bit and creating something.  I also printed out the words to the nursery rhyme and cut them out so he could try to put it in order.  Simple enough that he doesn't need to be able to read the words, just know the rhyme and use initial sounds to help him paste them in the right location.
Guess it is time to come up with another nursery rhyme.  I am getting sick of this one.  We did Baa, Baa Black Sheep awhile back ago, but it wasn't as much fun.  You ever try acting that one out?  Boooooooring!  Maybe Little Miss Muffet or something.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and...

TB enjoys singing (listening) and moving to songs like "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" so I try to get Justin to sing along with me.  It is cute to watch Ryan try to imitate his brother.  Sometimes Justin gets tired with it before Ryan does.  When this happens, he has to find a way to liven up the song.  This usually means modifying a song, always in a way he finds silly.  This week the song became "Med, moulders, mees, and moes" until Justin decided that lacked the silliness he was aiming for.  I was so proud of myself for keeping a straight face when he started to sing "Head, shoulders, knees, and penis" with accompanying movements.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  I can only hope that the absence of a reaction on my part means we won't have to hear that version too often.

And, as you may note, Ryan has also taken to wearing Justin's underwear on his head.  Got to be just like his older brother.  Lovely.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Mr Observant

Today one of my projects was to go through the bag of keys we got when we moved into our house.  Some were labeled, many were not.  I pulled out my handy dandy label maker (a gift a few years ago from my friend, Lisa) and got to work labeling the keys.

Our bedroom and bathroom doors have the old fashioned European keys.  Now I know most people just leave them in the lock, but not us.  Our first night here, Justin locked himself in the bathroom and couldn't figure out how to UNlock the door.  We removed the keys.  While I doubt he would repeat the incident, Ryan might.  Even if no one got locked in, keys would likely get removed and put in a special safe place never to be seen again.

Now believe it or not, there are times when we MIGHT want to keep the kids out of the bedroom or bathroom.  Since Ryan has now learned to open doors (stupid easy to open handles instead of knobs), it seemed wise to have keys reasonably accessible.  A hook on the back of our bedroom door is an ideal place.  Less than an hour after I had added the keys to the hook, Ryan came to me and took me to the door.  He pointed up to the keys and made unhappy grunting noises.  He doesn't miss a thing.  It makes it very hard to put anything past him.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Tiny's Vocabulary at 15 Months

When Justin went  in for his 18 month check up, I was hard pressed to come up with 10 words that he could say.  I started carefully keeping a log to watch how his vocabulary was growing.  Before long, I could no longer keep track of everything he could say.  His vocabulary had expanded greatly and included being able to identify all uppercase letters and most lowercase letters (stupid b,d,p,q) before he was two years old. 

I don't know if TB (Tiny Baby) will be such a lover of the alphabet, but at 15 months he has a bigger vocab than his brother did.  I guess I won't have to worry when the 18 month check up rolls around.  Right now he can (meaningfully) say: 
  1. mama
  2. dada
  3. baba (bottle even though it is a sippy cup now)
  4. ball
  5. baby
  6. bye-bye
  7. go (and something that I think is  supposed to be "ready, set")
  8. bee-bo (The word used for belly button in the Sandra Boynton Belly Button book)
  9. there you go (In addition to obvious meaning it also means he wants something.  He will point and say it over and over until you give him what he wants and say it to him.)
  10. thank you (his response to you giving him something and saying there you go to him)
  11. peek-a-boo
  12. uh-oh
  13. moo (for cow and other cow like animals)
  14. woof (for dog and other dog like animals)
  15. roar (for dinosaurs, lions, and other roaring type animals)
  16. where are you
  17. light
  18. tickle
  19. goo goo (I think it is supposed to be choo choo since he says it when he plays with trains)
That's all I can think of.  He sure has pointing, grunting, fake crying, and screaming down too.


Okay, I know that I make lots of spelling and grammar mistakes.  As I type into my blog right now, I realize that I don't even know where the spell check function is located now that I have changed formats.  You are going to get a lot of mistakes.  That does not change one of my pet peeves.  I absolutely can't stand when people write (or even worse say) "viola" when "voila" is what they really mean.  I don't care if the voila has an accent mark or not, but people, the two words are very different.  A viola is an instrument in the violin family or a flower similar to a pansy.  Voila is an interjection that is defined by Merriam-Webster as "used to call attention, to express satisfaction or approval, or to suggest an appearance as if by magic" in their online dictionary.  Some may argue that it is an easy typo to make.  Perhaps sometimes it is indeed a typo, but I think far more often it is people not having a clue what the word really is.  Maybe I should clean the kitchen or take a zoloft instead of worrying about it. 

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Growing Like Weeds!

I just changed my poopy baby and he wanted new clothes too.  As I was looking for a shirt to go with the pants he pulled out, I realized that he is growing SO fast!  I put on an 18 months shirt and he is almost too big for it.  Now sizes are inconsistant and he even has a couple of shirts labeled as 9 months that he wears, but it looks like 24 months/2T is the new shirt size for him.  Of course in pants some of the 12 months are still a plenty big around the waist but getting short.  It looks like I will have a whole pile of winter size 12 months clothes that he will outgrow without ever wearing.  Thank you Southern Hemisphere for messing me up with that!  In theory, having boys both born in December should make hand-me-downs work perfectly.  Not really sure what the winter will be like here.  Not snow and ice, but we won't be running around outside in shorts either.  At least the clothes he won't ever wear are all hand-me-downs worn by at least one other child.  I am sure that there are PLENTY of charities here who can use whatever we have to pass along.

I looked for some pictures of the suburb of Windhoek called Katatura, but don't like to steal people's pictures.  Because I have not yet been, I don't have any of my own.  Here is a link to some that I found:


The pictures were uploaded on 1 February so they are recent.  Looks like the photographer went so some interesting places.  We haven't traveled much yet.  As you can see from the pictures, might be more enjoyable to do some touring without the children or with some additional adult assistance.  Come and visit and we can see some of the country and area together!

Practice Clock or Folding Clothes?

Okay, right now I am watching my boys and (obviously) typing away on my laptop.  I need to stay here or I am sure they will start fighting, become incredibly lonely for me, or something.  That's just the way it goes.  So I should be folding the mountain of clothes before me, and I am sure that I will, but I decided that first I would work on a clock for Justin.  Now Justin has a large Judy Clock and some smaller Judy Clocks so it isn't like he is without one to use, but I thought that if he had one with numbers he could put on that it might add a little something new and be something we could have him play with on the go.

I will print out the clock and the numbers sheets and then cut out pieces as necessary before laminating.  I will choose out a set of clock hands and then use a brad to attach them to the clock face.  I will choose a set of numbers to use as well and apply velcro to the backs of them and to the blanks on the clock.

Will he like it?  He will either love it so much he wants to sleep with it, or be completely indifferent.  You can never tell with that kid.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Potty Training

This week I was talking with my parents, my sister, my brother, and my sister-in-law.  It was almost 7 AM on Monday for me here in Namibia, around midnight for my sister in New York, and a little before 9 PM on Sunday night for everyone else.  Through the 'magic' of skype we were able to talk for free and spend a little time together as a family catching up.

Catching up included an update on Justin's potty training.  He is doing really well.  He wears a pull-up at night because he doesn't stay dry through the night.  I also make him wear one if we are going to be out  and about for an extended period of time.  In the US I would probably just drag him into store bathrooms when I thought it might be close to time for him to go, but here in Namibia... Well let's just say I am never really sure what facilities, if any, may exist.

I am crazy about charts and Justin seems to be the same way.  We have charts for when he says his prayers, when he reads a book, when he follows the rules, and, of course, when he uses the bathroom.  He loves getting to the end of the row or finishing a chart and moving on to a new one.  He counts to see how many spaces are left on a chart and comes up with a plan for how he will finish it.  My sister, Meredith, came up with an idea that I loved--a chart that lists number of days without an accident.  You know the signs you see up by construction sites, at the gates of military bases, along dangerous highways, and probably any other number of places.  How could I not love the idea?

This is what I came up with.  I used Mayer Johnson Boardmaker because I happen to own the program and it was already open in a window on my computer.  I found some construction related graphics at and and went a bit overboard with my creation.  I will print out the sign and some numbers, laminate them, and then change the numbers to reflect the number of days my boy has successfully used the toilet, night time excluded.  I have a feeling that he will love it!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Busy Boys at Work

Sometimes Justin can be so cute. He can entertain himself playing and be fun to observe. Once he knows he is being watched he changes his behavior just a bit though. I have wanted to get him doing his hammer play for some time now, but haven't been very successful.

TB, of course, wants to be JUST like his brother.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I -Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Boogies!

Justin was playing with his toy food, making a great party for me. Tiny was also present, though he was more of an uninvited guest. Justin asked me if I would like boogies on my ice cream.

"Boogies on my ice cream?" I asked.

"Yes, because I think that I took some boogies from my nose and squeezed them on the ice cream and then said ha ha ha and moved away from left to right so do you want boogies on your ice cream or no?" he explained.

I guess I should just be glad that it isn't real food.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Seahorse Love

I know, you are wondering how I managed to get such a flattering shot of myself. You have to do what you have to do so I had TB and the seahorse in one hand and the camera in the other.

Justin had (and still has once the rest of our stuff arrives in Namibia!) a Playskool glow worm that he quite liked. I am a fan of the glow worm too, but it does have some flaws. I hate that it plays music for such a short period of time. The new and improved sea horse will play for a full five minutes. It also has two volume settings and an on/off switch.

Grandma got TB the seahorse. When Justin saw it, he loved it too. What a surprise. I think it will be a keeper. Ryan thinks it is cute and I hope that it helps soothe him. Last night, however, it did not. He noticed how bright it glows when there is no other light in the room and took that opportunity to play peek-a-boo with it. He would cover it up with his blanket, pull the blanket down, say "peek-a-boo" and laugh. It would have been a lot cuter at a more reasonable hour of the day.

Monday, January 18, 2010

NOT a Fan!

I just removed myself as a fan from a Facebook page that suggested ideas from the following blog entry:

I wasn't sure if it was a bad joke to rave about some of the ideas. Sure, I have been known to make lists on the back of junk mail envelopes. Why not? There is usually junk mail lying around. But to scratch out the address and use for my own mail? I don't think so Tip #17!

#22 Use old light bulbs inside of socks as a darning egg? I confess I had my grandma darn a pair of socks for me. I really, really liked the socks and couldn't find another pair like them. I don't know a lot of people who darn socks. I don't know that it is cost effective. Do people have to take a day off of work to have time to darn socks? If you don't want to be wasteful can't you find other uses for your old socks and buy new ones? I use old socks as disposable rags. Maybe people find that idea strange.

Ideas #18, 19, and 21 involve reusing boxes etc. for kids to play with. That I can understand. My kids often like the box as much as the toy inside. I know both of my children have enjoyed pushing around their diaper boxes (both full and empty). Covering boxes with patterned contact paper though? How much does that cost? How long are these 'toys' going to be around?

#14 suggests saving dryer lint (because it is highly flammable) and stuffing it in empty toilet paper rolls and using as a fire starter. Great. I envision people everywhere saving piles and piles of dryer lint.

#38 recommends using old toothbrushes for cleaning. Uh oh. I do that. Maybe I will be following all of the suggestions before too long.

I hope you are not in such financial shape that you have to reuse your envelopes or use cereal box liners in place of wax paper. If you are trying to make a difference for the environment, there are other ways to do it. Personally, I think that most Americans like to do little things and feel all warm and fuzzy about being 'green' while it hardly even makes a dent. In Japan we had to sort our garbage into a million (okay, not that many) different types.
You willing to do that?

Here in Namibia, things are packaged very differently. It isn't necessarily attractive, but there is a lot less waste. Do you buy your lotion in a bag? You really don't need another bottle if you already have one. Refills in particular are not grabbing your attention as you walk down the aisle.

Go ahead and feel all warm and fuzzy because you reused your Styrofoam meat tray for giving neighbors baked goodies at Christmas (tip #36). Go ahead and leave me off your baking list. I probably don't want to visit your house either. You probably have a lot of junk lying around. Or maybe your house is made out of all the stuff you so frugally repurposed.


The other day while I was sitting in the playroom with Justin, I mentioned that we might have some friends over for dinner. He immediately got his brain in gear, trying to figure out where people could sit. He was telling me how we could 'scootch' the table and someone could sit by TB and someone could sit by Daddy. I told him that I thought we would eat in the dining room. Obviously this is something we have not done yet here. He looked at me with a puzzled expression. I repeated that we could eat at the dining room table.
"There's a table in the dining room?" he responded.
I assured him that there was and encouraged him to check. He ran out of the room and returned a moment later.
"Mommy, you were right! There is a table in the dining room!"
I asked him how many chairs. He again ran to check, and was amazed there there are eight chairs at the table. He didn't mention the two other chairs in the dining room on either side of the china cabinet. I figured it was a big enough shock to discover that there is table in the dining room. He was bound to notice it sometime, right? I mean, we haven't been here quite two months yet.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Facebook Apologies

To all my blog readers who are NOT my facebook friends, I apologize for not writing more often. I fought long and hard before getting "into" facebook. I think that FB is, in many ways, a way of keeping in touch that says, "hey, I am interested in what you are up to, but don't care enough to write, call, or send an e-mail!" I still think that is quite often true. I have discovered that it does allow me to keep in touch with people I would not otherwise. Let's face it, I can't even keep my blog up to date, I am behind in responding to e-mails. Perhaps FB isn't such a bad idea. I also thought (correctly) that it would be an easier way to upload pictures of my boys for me mom to see. It is a pain for me to do on my blog and it seemed that my mom always had trouble with flickr. (No offense, Mom!) I have found that I can use FB to quickly send a link to a friend, to share a quick thought, or to let people know that my day is NOT going well. I would hardly send an e-mail out to everyone I know to say that I broke my baby toe! I also enjoy hearing quick updates about what other people are doing. Hearing other people's highs, lows, and day-to-day events helps me feel like I am not the only one who goes through some of these things. So, though it was completely unintentional, I am a facebook user. I will try to keep up with my blog and e-mail. If you want more frequent updates, add me as a facebook friend. Chances are I would like to hear what you are doing too!

Today was quite a day. I decided to make tortillas and had to fight off the ants right while I was making them! My spray bottle broke so I have not been as diligent about vinegaring the counters (more on vinegar later). I was able to keep on the winning side of that fight. :) Then right AFTER mopping the kitchen floor, I discovered two ants in the pantry. Two ants, you may think, is not a big deal. With our current ant situation I doubted that those two were alone. I mean, how often do you hear of only TWO ants hanging out together? I wanted to get the pantry under control as soon as possible, so I started wiping down the shelves with vinegar. I love using vinegar because it helps with ant control AND it isn't harmful to my kids. As I am moving things and wiping down shelves, I DROP a container of sugar and it goes ALL OVER! Now in the best of circumstances that is not a pleasant situation, but on a still damp kitchen floor... Let's just say that sticky sugar floor is not something that I think will help me in the war with the ants. I tried to clean it up as best as I could. In the meantime, the ants were making off with the crumbs from the boys' lunch because I did not IMMEDIATELY sweep and/or vacuum the area by their table. Sigh. Of course I had some help too.

At least Justin and Ryan were decent human beings while I tried to take charge of the kitchen. I didn't get some of today's other chores done, but that's okay. Then Justin decided to go to the bathroom, squat BESIDE the toilet, and poop his pants. Lovely. We got a later start on potty training than is ideal because of our move, but he has been doing great. Last week his big boy underwear arrived and he has been doing well staying dry during the day. A new Duncan train is now sitting in the bathroom, just waiting for Justin to poop in the toilet instead of his underwear. Justin seems motivated. When the time comes, we shall see. He loves his big boy underwear!

Probably the highlight of my day has been that I got to take Excedrin for my headache. I have weened TB! For the past month I have been nursing him only in the wee hours of the morning because it is so much easier to pull him into bed with me at 5:00 AM and lift up my shirt and go back to bed than to make a bottle. A little sad to lose that bond with my baby, but he is 13 months now. I had it easy with both kids. They were good nursers, but would also take bottles. It is nice to have a baby cuddle up with you.
I also got to play a bit of wii. Justin begs to play the monkey game (Donkey Kong Jungle Beat) which means he wants to watch me play it. Ryan likes to think he plays too.
Rob will come home after a long day at work and have a surprise waiting for him. There is a millipede either resting or dead behind the curtains in the kitchen. I have saved it for him. I picked one up once with a little too much firmness and the crunch sound and feel was really gross. I don't like to touch them if I can help it. Rob was also in charge of catching a beetle this morning. I have gotten better about bugs, but I am not a fan.
Maybe the rain will stop soon and we can go outside and play.