Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Here are the Thanksgiving reports the kids wrote last week:

Thing’s I am thankful for by Tyson

1.       My buddy is so speacial to me
2.       We play baseball together
3.       We go out together
4.       We play together
5.       I like him very very much. My buddy is daddy!

Thanksgiving by Jori

I am thekfl for Charity and Niesi bkus thay are my grls. Orabile and Mapule cas they are cyot. Flower are prite and smel god. I am oso fakfl for playing outside kus it is fun. Anamis and babe brs are kol to see. I lik to see babe brs. 

I am thankful for Charity and Niesi because they are my girls. Orabile and Mapule because they are cute. Flowers are pretty and smell good. I am also thankful for playing outside because it is fun. Animals and baby birds and cool to see. I like to see baby birds.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


On Friday, we took a little fieldtrip to Operation Mobilizations South African headquarters. The good people at OM South Africa were putting on a “trip” around the world for home schooling kids to come and learn about different countries and cultures. Tyson wanted a little independence, so he joined the blue group, while Jori and I were in the pink group. Each child had a “passport” and after hearing many interesting things about the country they were visiting, they were given a sticker for that country. We all had a wonderful time and appreciated learning more about the different cultures around the world. OM is a Christian organization that seeks to mobilize people to spread the Gospel message around the world, so we also learned about the religious climate of the various countries
When we got home, Tyson and Jori each started a report about the countries they saw. There were 8 countries total, but each child only made 5 stops. Together, the kids visited all 8 countries, which was wonderful as we were able to share the different things we learned with each other. We spent most of Monday and Tuesday working on and finishing the reports. On Monday we looked at our world map and found all the countries that we had visited and took some time to think back to what we had learned at each stop. I wrote down what the kids remembered so they would be able to have something to look at to help them remember the details as they wrote their reports. Enjoy!

Here is Jori’s report, with my translations following each section. 

We wint to Japan anb Thailand Somalia Ivory Coast Kazakhstan It was fun  I got choklit.
We went to Japan and Thailand, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan. It was fun. I got chocolate. (She copied the names of the countries off of her passport.)

Somalia is in Africa. Sumbute patid my hands. The bows ha to sit on wun sib and the grls hat to sit on the uthr sid. If you bekum wan uv gov pepl you wil haf to diy. Mine pepl are muslum. Ther is not los uv ran Los uv prpsins are hungrey
Somalia is in Africa. Somebody painted my hands. The boys had to sit on one side and the girls had to sit on the other side. If you become one of God’s people, you will have to die. Many people are Muslim. There is not lots of rain. Lots of persons are hungry.

We wint to Ivory Coast It wus fun. It was in Africa. Kidv ha to be slavs The cis the didit git los of food. In a play a boy had to klim a tree to git a ckocko ben. I had chocklit
We went to Ivory Coast. It was fun. It was in Africa. Kids had to be slaves. The kids they didn’t get lots of food. In a play a boy had to climb a tree to get a coco bean. I had chocolate.

Here is Tyson’s report. If something is unclear, I’ve made a translation in parentheses.

Kazakhstan Japan Spain Peru Turkey. Have you heard of those contry’s. we learnd about them at a home scool festival thing. It was very very fun exsiting astonishing stipends (stupendous).

They did a funny dance. The funniest part of all was that you had to put out your legs behind you then you put it all together ha ha ha ha ha ha ha I’m saying that because he said chiken. It is buy Russia and china. They kidnap the wives. They have gross horse meat ewe w, but they like it. They half to drink sheeps milk, they have good apples. They’re muslims not Christians.

Peru-South America
It’s in South America. We drank inca cola. Mrs. Hether  told us that it’s better than coca cola. She’s one of the persons that goes to our cell (small group at church). There’s a guy named Jonny he begged for food and money. They have very very big spideres.

Spain is in Europe. In Spain they pray to Jesus mother Mary. They’re very famous for bulls. Do you know what fiesta means? Party!

And there you have it, two wonderful reports from two amazing kids. Ok, so I’m a bit biased, but it really is amazing how much they each remembered from the Friday morning. And the writing…oh my! Tyson’s handwriting has improved 100%! Six weeks ago I could hardly read what he wrote in his journal, but now I can type up a whole report without needing him to sit right next to me to interpret his messy writing. My sweet girl is also doing so good with her writing. I am glad I decided to have her start writing reports instead of thinking she was too young. I am sure they will have more interesting things to write about soon.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What we've been eating

While my parents were here, we tried this recipe that I had found on a blog called Se7en. I had accidently picked up bone-in chicken breasts at the store, but they ended up being perfect for this dish. The chicken was delicious. Seriously, so good. The sauce needed something more, but I am not enough of a cook to know what that “something more” should be. If anyone tries this dish and figures it out, let me know. One trick we’ll be trying next time is not adding so much water to the concentrate and maybe adding a bit more brown sugar directly to the sauce, but that’s all I’ve got!

Easy Chicken in Orange Juice
  • Enough chicken pieces for dinner, sometimes I used boney ones other times the skinned de-boned kind, whatever you prefer.
  • A couple of onions, well chopped
  • Mustard.
  • Brown sugar, I use about half a cup and I split it into two halves.
  • Orange Juice to cover. Fresh or from concentrate
  • Butter.
  • A tablespoon or two of flour
1. Place your chicken pieces in an oven proof dish and put a layer of mustard on top of each chicken piece.
2. Then spoon the onions on top of the mustard.
3. Sprinkle one half of the brown sugar on top of the onions.
4. And cover with orange juice
5. Add some dabs of butter. And then pop it into a medium oven for about 45 minutes.
6. Once your chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven and place the “juice” into a pot. Keep the chicken separate in the original dish.
7. Sprinkle the remaining half of sugar onto the chicken pieces and return it to the oven while you get on with the sauce.
8. Whisk a table spoon or two of flour into the sauce on the stove top and whisk away until your sauce thickens.
Serve with rice.

Another meal that we made for my parents was the following, from the Sunnyslope Cookbook. Thanks again Joan J.!

Ranch Potato Casserole
8 medium red potatoes, unpeeled (we always regular potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces)
½ cup sour cream
½ cup ranch dressing
¼ cup bacon bits
2 T Parsley (have not used this)
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Cook the potatoes until tender, quarter and set aside (see above, we do this differently). Combine sour cream, dressing, bacon, parsley and 1 cup of cheese. Place potatoes in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Pour sour cream mixture over the potatoes and gently toss. (We just mix it all in a bowl, then drain the potatoes and add them to the mixture, getting them well coated before tossing it all in a baking dish.)
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup butter, melted
2 cups corn flakes, slightly crushed
Top casserole with ½ cup cheese. Combine corn flakes and butter, sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.
To make this more of a meal, add some ham to the potato mixture.

My parents brought us lots of goodies from the states, including pizza sauce and pepperoni. We had some hamburger rolls leftover from cell group, so we used the goodies from my parents and made some pizza burgers.

Cut rolls in half. On each half spread some pizza sauce, layer on some pepperoni and top with cheese. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, then broil to get the cheese nice and melty.

Our kids loved these and we are happy to have a couple more bottles of pizza sauce and packages of pepperoni and will be asking Darin’s parents to bring more this coming summer (or winter depending on what hemisphere you live in!).
My mom threw together a few quick desserts when they were visiting. It is always nice to have something sweet to eat. This recipe is one she found in my Sunnyslope Cookbook

Mrs. Hewitt’s Lemon Cake Custard (Julia A.)
1 cup sugar
3 T butter
½ tsp salt
 6 T. flour (level)
1 lemon, grated rind and juice
2 eggs, separated
1 ½ cup milk
Combine sugar and butter, add salt, egg yolks and flour, then add lemon and milk. Fold in beaten egg whites (stiff but not dry). Pour in baking dish WHICH HAS BEEN PLACED IN A LARGER DISH OF WARM WATER. Make sure the water only comes about half way up the side of the baking dish when it is set in it to bake. Bake 1 hour at 350. It will look golden when done. The top half will be like sponge cake, and the bottom like a lemony pudding. 

This was really good. It reminded me of lemon bars. Our kids were not fans, but the rest of us, including Darin, liked it a lot. 

This past week, we’ve been trying to keep dinner simple because it is almost too hot to cook. It is funny to read about everyone in the Midwest making soup and other cold weather meals as winter weather descends on them. I guess I better get my laughs in now, because when you all start heading into warmer weather, winter will be arriving in South Africa and I’ll be jealous of all the summertime food and fun you’re all having!

A Big Wrap Up

First of all, almost all of our pictures from our vacation are up! Just follow the link at the top of our blog and check them out. 

We had a WONDERFUL time with my parents. I know I should have been writing things down as we went along, but I was too busy just trying to enjoy each moment. I am going to try to think back now and touch on some of the highlights of our time together. 

Our trip to Blyde River Canyon, which I already wrote about, was a definite highlight. We are so thankful that we could see another part of this amazing country and it was a blessing to be able to share the adventure with my parents. After we got back from that trip, we took some time to just live our “normal” life and include my parents in this life as much as possible. That meant many visits across the road to Tshepo Ya Bana to hold babies and watch the kids swim, a few trips out to Mama Cathrine, grocery shopping, and sitting out in the sun. We tried to do some home schooling, but it was hard to get into a routine when there were presents to be opened and games of Skip-Bo to be played. 

We did go on a lot of game drives with my parents. We’d either head out around 6:30 or 7 in the morning or around 5:30 at night. We saw so many amazing things; 3 rhino less than 60 feet away, huge kudu with their twirly horns, giraffe, ostrich, eland and more. We also saw lots of baby animals; little jackals peeking out of their den, baby giraffe, young ostrich, little warthogs running with their tails up in the air and more. Towards the end of my parents’ trip, we were going on a game drive every day. We are so glad we were able to share with them the beauty that is all around us. 

The Monday after we got back from Blyde River, we headed to Bela Bela. More specifically we went to the Forever Resorts, where we enjoyed swimming in the heated pools and zooming down the waterslides. Darin and I had taken the kids to Bela Bela in 2008 and it was the one thing they both continued to talk about when we returned to the states, even years later. My mom and I took time for a massage, my dad spent lots of time checking out the birds, and the kids loved watching the Discovery Channel in our chalet. Mythbusters, Man vs Wild and more! Bela Bela was just as fun as we had remembered and someday we will go back!
You’d think that I’d have gobs and gobs more to write about the time with my parents, but there were times where we weren’t even doing anything and it was still fun. It was just so wonderful to be with people who know us and love us. The kids LOVED having their Papa and Gram here. They did a little home school program for them, read with them, played doctor and dentist, caught bugs, chased down butterflies for Papa, cuddled and more. My mom hung laundry, made Dutch meatball soup, baked s’more bars, washed windows and more. My dad planted a garden, swept and mopped, made applesauce, climbed trees and taught my kids to enjoy the little things that surround us. 

The time we spent together was such a blessing. I knew it would be hard to say goodbye, but I didn’t realize that it would throw me into such a funk! Having my parents here reminded me of what we have given up in coming to live in South Africa, which is close relationships with people who know us and have walked with us for a good chunk of our lives. Being with my parents for three weeks was such a blessing, and even knowing how hard the goodbye has been, I wouldn’t have given up any of the time we spent together. Now that the sharp pain of goodbye has worn off a bit, I am able to look at pictures or think back to certain moments and be reminded of the love that we share with them, and also the love that we share with others who are far from us. I know this post might make it seem like we spent a lot of time not doing anything, but I don’t really know how to put all the things we shared that made the visit so special into words. The hugs, laughter, smiles, tears, seeing grandparents love on grandchildren and grandchildren bask in the attention from their grandparents. While the big things we shared together, like hiking to waterfalls, jumping into canyons, venturing into dark caves, zooming down waterslides, seeing rhino and giraffe, were a wonderful part of the three weeks we had together, it’s the little things that are harder to put into words that have stuck with me more.

Papa and Gram, we miss you!! Thank you for making the long journey to see us. We pray that you will be able to come again soon!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Going on vacation

Going on Vacation by Tyson
We stayed at a hotel motel. Whiel we stayed at the hotel we did lots of fun stuff. Zipline, Big swing, Bourke’s Luck Potholes. By the caves there was a Dinosaur Park. There was a alive crockdile. My daddy thought it was too hot to move. It was in the water to cool off. The dinosaurs felt like cardboard. We took some scary pictures.

Katydids by Tyson
They hear with there legs. They have antenna. We played with them. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. There very nice katydids. Did I mention there like grasshoppers? There about the size of your hand. They have little mouth feelers. We did a routeen. First we get them on a stick, then we put them on a rock. We named them Hoppy, Hopper, Bacon, Una and Blacky. The end.

The sip line by Tyson (zip line)
We went to a place called big swing. It felt funny he he he he he he. They put a harenes on me.  it was like the sipline was like the one at post family farm but different. It was higher scarier. You had to run off a platform. It’s a very very nice view. You can see all sorts of cool stuff. All of us went on it except one of us. Can you guess? Gram tada! I concurred my fear. (actually, Jori also didn’t go on it, but I love the “gram tada!” so we are leaving this story as is!)

Our Vacation by Jori
We wint on A doce rid. And we got tow fed them. I JUMPT off A rokc AT MAK MAK Polv. My hl famley and me got r fet klen with fish it tikl
We went on a donkey ride and we got to feed them. I jumped off a rock at Mac Mac Pools. My whole family and me got our feet clean with fish. It tickled.

Bela Bela by Jori
It wuv fun at belu belu. Ther wuv big wotrsliv. Ther wus A hot tub at belu belu. I wun on A rase wotr slid. It wav fun.
It was fun at Bela Bela. There was big waterslides. There was a hot tub at Bela Bela. I won on a race water slide. It was fun.

What we did by Jori
I win to belu belu with PAP And GrAm. It wus fuN with the um. And we wint on Los uv gamdrivs. I luvd it with the um.
I went to Bela Bela with Pop and Gram. It was fun with them. And we went on lots of game drives. I loved it with them.

Build Them a Home Progress Report #3

Wow, wow, wow!!! We are only $50 away from reaching our goal!! Thank you to everyone who gave over the past week. The house is really taki...