Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Few Days in Lae

We just got back from a few days away in the city of Lae.  Since I ended up with a bunch of photos from the trip I decided to go ahead and post them now.  Besides, Friday is Christmas, and I sure hope you all have something better to do than to read my blog!  Here is your photo fix for the week, a bit early.

We felt that we really needed a change and to get away from our regular routine.  As you will soon see, however, a "holiday" in PNG is a mix of fun things and "why-do-we-do-this-to-ourselves?" moments.

Kate is super excited about spending 3 1/2 hours in the truck in close proximity to her brothers.  (Especially since we don't have air conditioning, and as soon as we get out of the mountains we get to spend the last two hours of the trip all hot and sweaty.)

After being on the road only 30 minutes or so, we lost a tire.  And when I say lost, I mean, like totally annihilated.   Brian saw this photo and said, "Don't post this one... it makes me look totally useless."  In his defense, we happened to break down right in front of an SDA church on a Saturday morning, and so there was a huge crowd of people standing around waiting for church or for a ride into town.  A big group of guys jumped in a grabbed the tools right out of Brian's hands, and they didn't even give him a chance to change the tire himself.

Not Brian changing the tire.  (We did give the guys a little monetary thank-you afterwards, which is probably why they were so helpful.)

See what I mean?

 The kids watching from the church yard let out a collective whoop when they saw my camera pointed their way.
While we were on the side of the road, one of my boys suddenly had to do a number two.  Had we been in the middle of nowhere, we would have found a spot in the tall grass on the side of the road, but since we had such a large audience, I asked around to see if there was a liklik haus nearby.  A man led us into the school yard to use the teacher's toilet, which was probably a bit nicer than other options:

My son, having never experienced a PNG pit toilet before, was a little disconcerted... Where is the toilet, mom?  But we managed.

At this point we almost scrapped the whole trip.  Did we trust our spare to get us all the way there?  We knew we would have to wait until Monday to buy a new tire in Lae.  After some debrate we decided to soldier on.  

Along the highway, there are lots of little "gas stations" along the road.  I wouldn't recommended it though, as the fuel might not be very clean. 

The drive through the Markham Valley might be hot and noisy with the windows rolled down, but it does provide some nice views.

PNG beef cattle are raised in the vast grasslands of the valley.

At last we arrived at the guesthouse in Lae and immediately turned on the air conditioning in our flat to recover from the drive.   We didn't get to rest very long though, because the kids wanted to jump into the pool.


We did a LOT of swimming, a little bit of shopping, and eating out in restaurants.  That's pretty much all there is to do in Lae.  But really, with kids our kids's ages, the pool is mostly the reason we went to Lae.  It's a really special treat for them.  

 Feeling all tropical.  Hard to believe that Christmas is this week.

 After a few days, it was time to go home, and I think we were ready.  Two out of three kids were starting to get sick, and the boys had finally had enough of the pool.

Waiting for daddy to come back from the tire shop so that we could drive home.

And then the long drive back to the highlands.  It's wonderful when you start going up the mountain pass and the air gets instantly cooler.  Makes you excited to get home!

Oh, the excitement in our truck when dusty, dirty Kainantu comes into view.  Only twenty more minutes to home!  But first we had to stop for fuel.  The first service station was out of diesel, so we drove down the street to try the next one.

There is always lots of people watching to do in town:

So now we're back home, trying to change gears for Christmas in a few days.  It was good to have some time away, but also very good to be back.  

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Photo Friday [115]

The Lego boats have been spending a lot of time in the sink this week.  Mom is very paranoid that little Lego pieces are going to disappear down the drain.  In hindsight I should probably have filled up a big tub with water instead...

The Christmas party season is upon us.  This was a Christmas event for all of the women in the community.  I was in charge of a photo booth, which was quite fun.  There were games, food, and carols sung in a variety of languages.

One evening this week was designated as a time for viewing Christmas lights, and so everyone who has lights kept them on for a certain time so that folks could walk around and see them.  Some people like to put lights on the outside of their houses, but it is much tamer than what we see in the States.  Electricity is expensive here, and also Christmas lights are just harder to come by.  You can't walk into any store an expect to find them.

Even though the displays were quite modest (with the exception of one or two houses), our kids still really enjoyed driving around to look at everything.

I've been hearing about all the snow in Colorado this week, but here things are quite summery.  Our days are about as long as they get -  meaning it doesn't get dark until nearly 7pm!!  (We're about 6.5 degrees south of the equator, so we don't get much variation.)

Rains have returned, and with them, mud.  Walking Greg to school on the last day of the term, Caleb lost a shoe in some deep mud on the road.  And rescuing him I also went up to my ankles in mud.  Our whole family likes to wear Crocs - they are so easy to clean!  

Oh yeah - school is out.   The kids have a five-week break.  Also today is the last day that all of the departments on center will be open.  Everything will shut down for two weeks!  I'm pretty sure I have everything I need from the store, so that I won't have to go in today when everyone else is there getting last-minute stuff.

School break can get a little hairy for moms with young kids.  Yesterday afternoon was wonderful though.  The neighbors (who have kids ages 6th-12th grade) came over and asked if they could borrow all of my kids for the afternoon.  Um - yes please! 
The boys think that the neighbors' house is one of the best places to hang out, so they had a great time doing some Christmas baking, watching Frozen, and playing toys.

 I used my free time to make some goodies of my own.  Butter + sugar + chocolate + nuts = Christmassy goodness.  Mmmmmmm....

 Totally sacked out.

 And finally, don't freak out, but I think that this year all of our Christmas packages actually arrived before Christmas!  How crazy is that? 

Until next week!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Photo Friday [114]

The boys get a bedtime story while Kate takes ornaments off the tree.

I had a big colander of freshly-washed berries in the sink, and when I came back into the kitchen, this one had his face right in the bowl and was chowing down.


"Why do I have to stop?"

Oh what fun to make lots of noise!

Every time we walk somewhere Caleb finds a stick to add to his collection.  We have spears and swords and bows and staffs and fishing poles... and an offcut from the wood pile that makes a very convincing (though heavy) gun.

Feeling very girly in our ruffles!


The boys were excited to make a "flying" picture with mom... for about five minutes.  And then the superheroes had to go do other things... probably involving sticks.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Photo Friday [113]

This week:

Our Thanksgiving celebration was a picnic at a playground.

 Kate loves to swing.

The favorite toy of the week is the set of eggs that she got for her birthday from my parents.

Christmas decorations are up.  Normally we're not the decorate the day after Thanksgiving type, but Greg was very very anxious to decorate, so on December 1 we made the house festive.

This is our first year doing a Jesse Tree for advent.  I was invited to participate in a Jesse Tree ornament exchange, which was a lot of fun.  25 ladies each made 25 of one ornament, and then we got together and everyone got to take home a complete set.  Very fun!  As for the tree, I normally have photographs on this frame, but put them away for the month so that our ornaments can have the place of honor in the living room.  Each night we light candles (and the tree of course), have a little devotion, hang the ornament and pray together.  The boys have been really into it.

A big rain last night left us these as a gift.  The little flying bugs that hatch and swarm light sources when it rains.  We typically don't get them, as they seem to plague the houses on the outskirts of the center, probably because they are the closest light source, and our house is in the middle of a bunch of other lighted homes.  Our friends who are translators tell us that in the Nukna language the name of these bugs translates as "Come to the light and die."  A very apt name, since that is pretty much what they do!

 I'm sure they made the spider who faithfully spins a web at the top of our stairs every night very happy.

 And they made this guy very happy too, as he took it upon himself to get out the vacuum and clean them all up for me!

 And finally, two more of Kate's favorite things - sitting on this step that is just her size and playing with a ball.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Photo Friday [112]

Happy Thanksgiving to my State-side friends!  It's not a holiday here, so we didn't celebrate yesterday.  I was feeling far from family as I spent the morning praying for one of them who was undergoing a medical procedure, and felt very full of thanksgiving upon hearing good news regarding that.  Thankful for Facebook and Skype to keep us connected!

 Tomorrow we'll be getting together with a few friends to share a meal.  It won't be a typical Thanksgiving dinner, as we'll be celebrating with friends of other nationalities, some of whom who have never had an American Thanksgiving - but that's the fun part of living in an international community.

If you remember, last Friday was Kate's birthday, so here are some photos of that:

A lunch of mango (her favorite).  She is mesmerized by the balloons hanging from the ceiling above the table.

 Kate's butterfly cake.

Opening gifts.  Her brothers immediately confiscated all the new toys, and left Kate with a stack of new clothes.

Thankfully Kate was more than happy with that arrangement.  She was very happy with the new clothes, and scooted around the living room, putting them on her head, hugging them, and draping them over her shoulders.

 And now we're going to sing to you.  Unfortunately she reached for the candle while we were singing and put it out with her fingers!

Ow!  What a mean cake!

When she got her slice of cake a few minutes later, she didn't want anything to do with it at first!  After watching the rest of us enjoying it, however, she did eventually change her mind and enjoyed her sweet treat.

 We love you Kate!  What a lot of personality in such a little package!

And just so we don't forget about the boys:

Army-crawling through the dirt....

 ... and climbing trees!

Also this week Brian was feeling a bit nostalgic for our favorite doughnuts from the local doughnut shop in Stayton, Oregon - Buttermilk Bars.  He set about searching the internet for a recipe, and had little luck.  I guess Buttermilk Bars are mostly found in Los Angeles and Portland, and though many people seem to be fans, few knew how to make them.  He did find one recipe though, and copied it for me, leaving strong hints about how I might try it out sometime.

So one night we had doughnuts and smoothies for dinner.  I mean, if you're going to have a big, greasy cake doughnut, you might as well just have it for dinner, instead of eating it on top of a regular meal, right?  They did turn out pretty tasty, though not the same as the ones back home.

Until next week!