Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Apple picking

There are some traditions that I'm starting to enjoy even though they are a lot of work. Each year the Lind family (my dad's siblings) would make apple cider. Two years ago we made apple cider at my uncles house but that has now ended. Last year my dad wanted to continue the tradition so he borrowed the cider press from his brother and now his brother has given my dad the cider press for good. So last year we picked 130 gallons of apples (we filled some 5 gallon buckets 26 times) and ended up with about 30 gallons or so of apple cider. Last year we went to one orchard and were able to pick all of those apples in about 3 hours.

This year was much different. We began by picking apples from one of my parents neighbors. There were 3 trees that we picked pretty clean and we ended up with about 60 gallons of apples. This took us about an hour. The girls were tired after that so my dad and I dropped them off with grandma (my mom) and Malakai before heading to the next orchard. 

The girls loved climbing the ladder and picking apples. They kept begging grandpa to let them climb the ladder.

The second place where my dad and I went was an unkept orchard where we picked all of our apples last year. We started walking up and down the rows and were finding no apples on the trees. It was unbelievable. We picked pretty much every single apple that we could find in this orchard and barely came away with 60 gallons of apples. On top of that, we were there for 3 hours. It took us 3 hours to pick the same amount of apples from this unkept orchard that it took us to pick from my parents neighbors in an hour.

We were able to fill the 5 gallon buckets we had 12 times which was our goal, but I was scrounging on the ground for apples while my dad was attempting to reach some of the highest apples up in the branches. After we finished getting all the apples we could find, my dad saw the owner and stopped to talk to him. He asked if anyone else had picked apples there this year and the owner said no. It was just a really bad year. The owner, in the 8 years he had lived there, had never seen such a bad year. But we were able to get the amount of apples that we wanted. This coming weekend we'll be making the apple cider!

Once we were back at my parents house we went to the garden and got our big pumpkins. After that the kids got a fun ride in the wheel barrow. This was Malakai's first ride and he was not sure what to think. At first he didn't like it but then when it was finished he wanted to ride more!

Meeting Bob and Larry

Saturday was a busy day for us. After the ballet class we went out to eat bagels with Sandra and her daughter and then we went to their house for about an hour. Sandra invited us to LifeWay (the bookstore) just after lunch because Bob and Larry from VeggieTales were going to be there. Sanaa and Layla were pretty excited to hear that. 

However..... when Bob and Larry came out into the bookstore, Sanaa and Layla were terrified. Bob and Larry were too big and too scary. The girls wanted a picture with them but would not go up without me and then Layla started crying and Sanaa acted extremely shy. Sanaa kept saying over and over that they were too big.

I suggested to the girls that we don't take a picture with Bob and Larry but that resulted in more tears. So I ended up holding Layla as she cried while holding Malakai and Sanaa just stood there very still not willing to go too close to Bob and Larry.

Sandra and her daughter Paloma also got a picture with Bob and Larry. It turns out that Sandra's husband works at LifeWay so I got to meet him.

One of the employees at LifeWay was making balloon animals and balloon flowers. The balloon flowers that the girls got redeemed the picture ordeal with Bob and Larry. So it all ended well.

Sanaa and Layla's first ballet class

Saturday morning Sanaa and Layla were invited to attend a ballet class. One of my moms co-workers has a 3 year old daughter (she is 3 days older than Layla) and her ballet class was having a bring a friend day. Of course Sanaa and Layla over heard my phone conversation on Friday when the mom called to invite them and they were very excited. Layla slept in her ballet outfit and Sanaa had to do some ballet stretches before bed. 

It was hard to get pictures of them in class. There was a large window where we could watch but the blinds were tilted in such a way that it made it hard to get pictures. I had to lay my phone on the window just right so that the camera was between the slits to get a picture. We couldn't adjust the blinds since they were inside the classroom and we had to wait outside.

There are a few pictures below. The girls were pretty tired after class but had a blast. Sanaa informed me that she wants to do ballet every day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Drawing with chalk

We have had a lot of nice weather here the past few weeks which has resulted in us playing outside pretty much everyday. We spend a lot of time out front where the girls are either riding bikes, drawing with chalk, playing hide-n-seek with friends, or just running around like crazy. I've enjoyed seeing all the different chalk drawings they've done and figured I'd share some of what they've drawn with all you.

Even Malakai likes to scribble with chalk. The two biggest problems with him are that he likes to scribble right on top of where Sanaa and Layla are drawing and once he's done scribbling he likes to carry the chalk around in his mouth like a dog. If I chase him to take it away he starts giggling and thinks its a game.

This is Sanaa's drawing of grandma making some eggs.

While Sanaa drew grandma, Layla drew grandpa. It is fascinating watching the girls draw and see how they improve. Layla has just recently begun drawing people and she is very proud of herself.

After Sanaa drew grandma making eggs she decided she needed to add a stove under the pan which is what she is working on in the picture.

Once Layla was done drawing grandpa Malakai decided to go over and add some detail.

This was Sanaa's drawing of grandpa near a tree.

I'm glad we live at the end of a cul-d-sac since the girls are able to draw all over our drive way and the road.

Sanaa drew a watering can that was watering the flower that our neighbor drew.

Sanaa has recently started drawing hearts. She loves drawing hearts now and all the hearts you see in the picture were drawn by her. Some of the hearts she draws now are better than mine!

This was the large beaver that the girls drew together. It was hard to get a good picture of it since it was so long, but the beaver tail is just to the right of Layla. There are two short arms in the middle and then you can barely see the eyes and smile Sanaa drew on the head.

This was Sanaa's drawing of Nate, complete with a mustache and short beard. She also added some sky, a sun, a cloud, and little rain.

Along with hearts Sanaa has been drawing candy canes. I never know what she's going to start drawing so it's fun to see each day what she comes up with.

A very small picture of me drawn by Sanaa. Sanaa's writing has improved a lot since the beginning school.

Layla's drawing of our friend Rickie from Guatemala.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ballerinas and Princesses

Friday evening Sanaa was invited to a friend's birthday party. Evan, a boy from kindergarten, was turning 6. His mom was having a Halloween birthday party for him. Nate had to work late and so I emailed Evan's mom asking if it was okay to bring Layla and Malakai since I couldn't leave them at home. I knew Sanaa would probably not like being left alone at a friends house that she's never been to.  Evan's mom was very understanding so Layla got to attend as well. Since it was a Halloween party the kids were to come dressed up and there were going to be prizes for the best costumes. 

Layla had originally told me that she was going to be Alice in Wonderland (and she still says that she is going to be that for Halloween). However, an hour before we left for the party another friend called to invite the girls to attend a ballet class with them the next morning. Layla immediately got excited about ballet and found her ballet outfit that she wanted to wear to class. She insisted on wearing it to the birthday party as well. (In fact, Layla was so excited about ballet that she even slept in it! I could not get her to wear pjs. Oh, well. Some battles are just not worth fighting). I was surprised that she could still wear the ballet outfit since it's size is 18 months!

Sanaa went to the birthday party as Cinderella. She had to do two princess poses for me before the party. The best part of the evening was that Sanaa won the best girl costume at the party! She was very excited and came home with an extra bucket of goodies which she has shared very nicely with Layla.

Malakai thought the tulle on Layla's outfit was fun to play with and kept chasing Layla around trying to touch the tulle. He did pretty good at the party considering it was his bed time. I held him the entire time, so I was quite tired by the end.

I did come to one big realization at the birthday party. I have been so use to the girls attending a Christian preschool and going to birthday parties of friends that are believers that it didn't even cross my mind that we were attending the party of a friend from a public school at Halloween. When we pulled up to the house and I saw the front yard decorated with grave stones I immediately wondered if I should take the kids home. Of course it was too late because Sanaa and Layla were very excited. The spider decorations, moving hands, bowls with dry ice, and glowing eyes thankfully did not scare the girls too much. The moving hand scared Layla the first time she saw it but then she thought it was funny. I am still glad that we have Sanaa at a public school since we've gotten to meet a lot of new people. I'm also glad that we went to this party since it was a wakeup call for me that Sanaa is at a public school now and there will be many families there who do not have the same beliefs as us.

Malakai's first professional hair cut

On Friday Malakai got his first hair cut by a professional hair stylist. I've cut his hair twice now, but it's mainly just to trim it and keep it out of his eyes. He does not sit still and he hates to have his hair messed with so I've never been able to trim it very well. So, the time came for him to have his hair cut. He has gotten a lot of compliments on how handsome and grown up he looks now. On Friday I thought his hair cut was great, but now I'm having hard time. I miss his long, unruly hair. Saturday morning when I got him out of bed I just looked at him. He looks so different to me and so much bigger! Below are his before and after shots.

The poor kid has some very unique cowlicks that I'm sure he'll hate when he's older. Melanie (who cut his hair) just looked at him before cutting it and asked him what in the world she should do with his cowlick. There's not much you can do. He's going to be stuck with a swirl cowlick just above his forehead. He has a second cowlick at the back of his head that makes his hair stand up. For now, he looks quite cute but I guess we'll see what he ends up doing with his hair once he's older.

Guatemala - pt. 4, Caquiton Chiacal - playing with the kids and the women's hospitality

One thing that struck me over and over was how hospitable the people in Guatemala were. Our first two days in Caquiton Chiacal the women made us a wonderful lunch with either turkey or chicken legs, potatoes, broth, and freshly made corn tortillas. We weren't expecting such a wonderful lunch from them and our team had packed stuff for sandwiches which we didn't end up using. 

A couple of the women working on rolling out the tortillas.

Making the corn tortillas is a lot of work. They had a lot of corncobs hanging up to dry. We tried to ask how many corncobs there were and I don't remember how many they told us but it was in the hundreds. 

Once the corn (maize) is dry they remove what they need and then shuck the corn by hand. We got to try shucking the corn and it is hard to do! The Kekchi women are quite good at it but we of course struggled. Some of the kernels were really hard to get off. Layla really enjoyed it and was quite disappointed when we were finished shucking all the corn. None of the parts of the corn get wasted. The dried kernels are ground up to make flour and then used to make tortillas. The remaining part is used to help keep the cooking fire burning.

Nkele (the girl in the picture with the blue shirt and the hat) was in charge of facilitating the activities with the kids. Sidewalk chalk was a really big hit and got played with every day we were there.

We introduced hop scotch to them and the first day they weren't very sure about it. But by our third day the Kekchi children were trying to draw their own hop scotch games. The kids also started to try and count in English. All of us were able to count in Spanish and a few times the Kekchi children would count in Kekchi. It was fun trying to teach the children some English words and I tried to learn some Kekchi words. They laughed at me since I wasn't getting it quite right but I knew I wouldn't be able to pronounce their words the right way. But at least I gave it a shot!

The pastor's wife tried to teach Layla how to balance a jug on her head. They had some small plastic jugs that the young girls could practice with.

My girls quickly warmed up to the children and had a lot of fun playing with them. They'd often walk off holding hands to go play with chalk or something.

There was a lot of tickling and giggling. Some of the older girls loved to carry Sanaa and Layla around. Layla didn't really like to be held by anyone except for the girl in this picture that is tickling her.

Another activity that Nkele had was making bead bracelets and necklaces. This was a huge hit. After the younger girls made theirs some of the older girls and even the women jumped in and made some bracelets and necklaces!

Bubbles were another big hit and the kids would run around chasing the bubbles as they floated through the air. I think bubbles are a hit with any and all children!

There was a lot of soccer playing. Layla didn't really participate in it since I think the kids ran too fast for her, but Sanaa had a lot of fun kicking the ball back and forth with other kids.

Even the adults got into playing some soccer with the kids!

Watching Sanaa and Layla play with the kids was a lot of fun. They didn't need to know the language at all. Just playing catch, kicking balls, chasing bubbles, drawing with chalk, etc. was all the children needed and they all had a blast playing together. The girls were sad when our last day came to go Caquiton Chiacal. They had played with these kids for nearly three days and they were now their new best friends and it's always hard to leave good friends even if you don't speak their language.

When it came to food, I wasn't sure how Sanaa and Layla would do. They can very picky. However, while we were in Guatemala they were much more willing to try new things. Layla tried the fresh corn tortillas. She had a few bites and at first liked it but then changed her mind decided she didn't like it.

Sanaa really liked the turkey leg but wasn't a big fan of the corn tortilla.

The picture below is a shot of the lunch that they served us. Fresh corn tortillas, potatoes, either a turkey leg or chicken leg and broth.

I've often talked about how amazing Sanaa and Layla did on our trip and how flexible they were. Our bathroom arrangement while in Caquiton Chiacal (and other villages) was just another example of how adventurous the girls were. We used an outhouse and it wasn't fancy at all. The first day the girls weren't too sure about it, but after that they could care less and got use to using outhouses whenever we were out at a village.