Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gardening, and My Little Green Thumb

Between last weekend and this weekend, we did a lot of garden work. I moved the cilantro and parsley to planters, the fennel to a pot, and the dill to another small location. Now I have an area with a little shade to plant my beans. The hot Dominican sun was proving too much for them. This way, they will get only the afternoon sun, which should be enough for them. In the sunny place where I had the beans previously, I planted plum tomatoes. In between the beans and plum tomatoes, the cherry tomatoes are growing and doing well! I already have some beautiful little green tomatoes. I just hope that the bugs don't get to them before they ripen.

I will plant beans in the front area; plum tomatoes are in the back.

Baby green tomatoes

Jeremiah, of course, had fun playing in the dirt. So, most of my gardening pictures were of my little green thumb:

Playing with weeds

Somehow he put a weed on his head... (and yes, he did it on his own)

Looking in at mommy's garden

Crawling away

And if anyone can tell me why blogger keeps rotating my pictures, I'd appreciate it. :)

Baby Help!

Jeremiah has figured out how to take off his diaper cover. I suppose I could use diaper pins to pin the cover on, but I'm afraid that this will affect the life of the covers. Any ideas?
Also, Jeremiah has taken a liking to throwing things...hard... all the way across the room. We've started taking putting away (for a little while) things that he throws. Is there any other way to stop this, or is this a phase that will pass?
And finally, he's really into head-butting. He even head-butts our faces. It hurts! I'm looking forward to the day when we can really communicate with him. I'm trying to teach him the sign for "hurt," but he doesn't understand it yet.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fun with Food

I've been having fun with food lately, especially because Jeremiah is old enough to eat almost everything we eat. So, if dinner is something he can have, we leave out the salt and any spiciness until the end.
This past weekend we received 3 free coconuts. Now, I must shamefully admit that before I lived in the D.R., I thought that coconuts grew on the palm trees as we find them in the store. After all, this is how most cartoons display coconuts. But no, that would be too easy. Instead, they are literally the "nut" or seed of the plant. So, you have to first cut through the outer part of the plant to get to the brown nut that we find in the stores. To get to the nut, Daniel went at the three cocos with the machete. As he finished each, I tried to scoop out the flesh. After I finished this, I put the coco in my mini food chopper and grated it. I saved some for later use, and I used the rest of it to make coco milk. We haven't actually used either (they're in the freezer). If anyone has any good recipes that use freshly grated coco, I would appreciate it if you could send them this way!

Daniel attacking the coco

Post-coconut scraping

After grating the coconut

Chicken Cacciatore:
On Monday night (date night) I made chicken cacciatore in the crock-pot. I've recently been finding more uses for my crock-pot and it was great to have the meal ready when Daniel came home, without taking away time from him being home. The chicken turned out wonderfully. We also sent some with Jeremiah to his sitter. She envied his supper. :)

It didn't look this brown in reality...

I even used our fun napkin rings for the first time! (we got them at our wedding)

Grilled Pizza:
Last night dinner was a throw-together pizza. We had some pizza dough in the freezer, so we decided to grill a pizza. The toppings included: pepperoni, bell peppers, jalapenos, anchovies, olives, avocado, and cheese. Jeremiah just had the avocado, bell peppers, and cheese. Except we started it so late that I had to throw something else together for his dinner. He had the pizza for lunch today. :)

And of course, it's not complete without some pictures of Jer...

Sorry these are rotated, for some reason the blogger changed them and I don't feel like figuring out how to make them upload properly. :)

This is what Jeremiah does while I'm working in the kitchen:

He seems to be very attached to the beef cubes...

Yay for sleep!

After a few rough weeks, Jeremiah slept 11 hours last night and only woke up once, very briefly! And then he napped over 2 hours today!

Monday, August 25, 2008

The first week of school and a trip to Santiago

Daniel reports that the first week of school went very well. Instead of starting Monday, school started Tuesday. But this was not because of the tropical storm (which, by the way, we have another tropical depression coming near us). Due to builders still building the staircase, we had to postpone school a day. However, Daniel was very proud of the staff and please with the first week. And, we have all of our teachers! (Although one is still coming) We are very thankful as it was truly only by God's provision!
On Saturday we went to pick up the "morning PreK-2/business admin. helper" from the airport. This was our first trip to Santiago in our own vehicle (see below)! We decided to do a little shopping. I found fun things we can't buy in Jarabacoa like: whole wheat flour, whole wheat pasta, dried apples (they were cheap too; and apples here are expensive!), flax seeds, wheat bran, and tahini. Sadly, next to the tahini, the flour was the most expensive thing we bought. It's getting pricey to bake! However, the other health foods were very inexpensive, and I was so glad to find them. I know it may not seem like much, but it's hard to find those healthy foods here! How is the price of flour in the states? Is baking getting expensive there, too? I think I may "dilute" our whole wheat bread by adding oat flour (they use it here in drinks).
And I'm happy to report that Jeremiah really liked the dried apples.

Meet and Greet Monday- Making Life a Little Easier

I'm very excited to introduce you to:

Our very own mini-bus!
It has one row of back seats, and lots of cargo room. It's a stick, and so I'm learning to drive stick and learning to drive for the first time in the Dominican Republic. I want to thank my brother for giving me practice on his stick many years ago, as it's made it much easier! The car is pretty forgiving and easy to shift. However, it's an adventure learning while driving up and down steep hills, over unpaved roads, all the while looking for motorcycles that try to go around you while you're turning.

Also exciting: our new washer!
Ok, it's not "new" but it's new to us. We can now wash diapers without the long tedious process of our old washer. It's absolutely amazing how much time this has saved us!

Look- lots of room for diapers!

On Saturday we transplanted some herbs while Jeremiah decided to play in the dirt:
(notice the very dirty diaper cover)
Apparently he enjoyed the dirt

And here are my happy boys:
Make sure to check out Meet-and-Greet Monday at The Natural Mommy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's Coming This Way!

The large low pressure area in this map is now over Puerto Rico and headed this way (Hispaniola). I don't mind the rain (we need some), but I'm hoping this won't affect school starting. Last year, we delayed school starting (by a week) due to building. This year we've delayed the pre-school (they were going to start two days before the rest of the school) also due to building. But we're really hoping that school will actually start on time this year (Monday)! Ah well, God's in control.
Meanwhile, here's another pretty map to look at: map2

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Brithday Party Part III: The Spread

I had fun coming up with food ideas for Jeremiah's party. Nothing fancy, just some home-made, fun "picaderos" (finger foods). So, we choose: chips and salsa, fresh fruit, veggies and ranch dip, and what I call "hot-dog" dip. I wasn't looking forward to doing all the cutting-up for the salsa. And then I got an idea- I could just throw all the ingredients into my mini-chopper! I'm not sure why I hadn't thought of that before. The salsa was easy to make; we bought chips and crackers, made up some ranch dressing, cut up some veggies and fruit, and made the "hot-dog" dip. I've had the dip many times before (one of our staff members makes it) but had not made it. Once again, it was super easy. I just threw together ham/salami, some cheese, mayo, ketchup, and a little mustard in the mini-chopper. And it was done! It was a hit (as in, there was none leftover).
And of course, for the exciting part.... the cake(s)!

While I was in the States, I picked up two $1 Betty Crocker cake mixes (a carrot and a lemon). For Daniel's birthday, I used the carrot. For Jeremiah's, I used the lemon. Yes, I admit. Even though I love baking things from scratch (tortillas, bagels, bread, etc.), I am not too thrilled about cake. I like dessert (crisps, pies, cheese cake), but I have never been a big fan of birthday cake. As a result, I don't have a huge desire to make it. Someday maybe, but not now. So, I cheated and used the mixes. However, I don't want to start giving Jeremiah lots of sugar just yet. He likes food; he doesn't need to be introduced to super sweet things at this point. So, I found a recipe for a "healthy" cake and icing here:

Healthy First Birthday Cake Recipes - Sugar Free Applesauce and Banana Cake

8oz (2 cups) whole wheat flour
1oz (1/8 cup) wheat germ
1tsp baking soda
6 medium, ripe bananas - mashed
8 fl oz (1 cup) sugar-free applesauce
2-4 fl oz (1/4 to 1/2 cup) soy milk (I used regular)

Preheat the oven to 325 deg F (160 deg C).
In a bowl, combine the flour, wheat germ and baking soda.
In a separate bowl, combine the applesauce with the mashed bananas and milk.
Pour the applesauce mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Pour into a greased pan and bake for around 1 1/2 hours. The cake is ready when a sharp knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

And then the icing:

Apple and Cream Cheese Frosting

8oz (1 cup) cream cheese
4oz (1/2 cup) sugar free apple juice concentrate
2tsp pure vanilla extract

Soften the cream cheese as described above. (Let it sit out for 30 min.)
Simply whisk the cream cheese with the fruit juice concentrate and vanilla extract until creamy! Alternatively, try mixing the softened cream cheese with your baby's favourite pureed fruit.

Jeremiah loved it, and the rest of us enjoyed a lemon cake with homemade lemon frosting. Besides that, he ate fruit, and the rest of us enjoyed the other food.
I included these pictures previously, but here they are again:

Monday, August 11, 2008

More birthday videos:

Eating the birthday cake

And now for the long one- present opening. This is mainly for the grandparents, or anyone else who wants to feel like they were at the party. I like this one because you get a good glimpse of the guests.

I'll put more videos of the birthday party up on facebook (eventually).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Birthday Boy!

Here are some pics and videos from his birthday and party. More videos to come.

On his birthday, he went swimming with his new floatie seat.
It even has a sun shade!
Here's a video of him swimming. Please ignore the strange noises I'm making...

We gave him a few presents to open on Friday, but he was more interested in the salt shaker and garlic powder.

He also liked the ribbon (don't worry, we took it away).

We skyped with the Grandparents so they could sing to Jeremiah. Yes, I know I am off-key.

The next morning he dumped the pepper on our coffee table (while I was getting ready for the party).
The "spread". I'll blog on the food later. :)

Daddy and the birthday boy.

Mommy and the birthday boy.

We put up his "new" (i.e. found in Grandparent's attic) swing. He loved it!

Mommy joined in on the fun.

He loves his new car. It even turns into a walker!

His "fancy" birthday cake (more to come on it later)

Enjoying his cake

Daddy was especially excited about the tool set.

He was much more curious about opening presents Saturday at the party.
And now... his birthday cake!

Friday, August 08, 2008

A Year Ago Today or What I didn't know

A year ago today I was at school, participating in the staff training. Daniel and I had walked to school that morning, and I was feeling great, although worried about what to do. The doctor had just told me that he wanted to plan a cesarean because Jeremiah was breech, feet down. He wanted to schedule one for the following Monday. I was concerned because Monday was still shy of the birth date. I didn't want to take Jeremiah out before he was ready to come out. I was uncertain what would be in Jeremiah's best interest; what would be most natural for him. However, the doctor tried to guilt me into making it seem like I was being selfish (he didn't say it, but he alluded to doing what was best for Jeremiah, not me). We had prayed that God would do what He wanted, knowing that if Jeremiah did not turn, we would need a c-section. Well, God answered the prayer. My water broke that night, and we rushed to the hospital for an emergency cesarean. I was at peace knowing that I didn't have to decide when Jeremiah would come, the decision was made for me. About an hour after arriving in the hospital, I had my sweet baby boy, and my life was about to change.

Before Jeremiah was born, I had a lot of head knowledge. I knew life would change. I knew I would have sleepless nights, etc. But I had no idea what any of that would be like. And I had no idea I could love a tiny baby, whom I had only known a few hours, so very much! And I continued to learn what I didn't know...

Jeremiah, I didn't know how how quickly I couldn't remember life without you.

I didn't know how much more tender my heart would grow, how much it would ache when I hear about mothers and babies that have difficulties and struggles.

I didn't know how stressed I would feel when I heard your little cry and didn't know what you needed.

I didn't know how much the sleepless nights would affect me.

I didn't know how amazing it would be just to watch you sleep.

I didn't know how long it would take me to recover from the c-section!

I didn't know how much better I'd be able to understand God's love for me, and my parent's love for me.

I didn't know how much joy you would bring.

I didn't know how fun every little development would be.

I didn't know how quickly you would grow up!

And now, here you are, no longer an infant. This has certainly been the fastest year of my life! And I'm glad I didn't know all of that at the beginning, because learning it is part of the journey.

Happy Birthday my little boy. Your daddy and I love you!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

1st Day of Training

The first day of training went really well. It was a cool experience to sit in the room (I was allowed to attend even though I'm not official staff) and listen to Daniel sharing his vision for unity in the school. I was there for the introductions, staff game, and Daniel's first cultural talk. It's obvious that he's passionate about seeing God work bring unity to the staff, despite cultural differences. I also heard from various accounts that the following training session went well. It's so exciting to see how much God has used him, grown him, and prepared him since I first met him way back in 7th grade. I'm proud of you, Daniel!

Random Ponderings

So, I'm trying to understand something. Jeremiah absolutely detests getting his nose suctioned. He recently had a cold and a nose so stuffy that we had to use the aspirator even thought he screamed bloody murder. I really thought I was going to scar him for life.
So why, the past few times that he's seen the aspirator on the changing table, has he grabbed it and proceeded to stick it up his nose on his own?
Strange child.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

And so it begins...

Teacher training begins tomorrow! It looks like only the 4th grade and school counselor positions are left to be filled. PTL! :-D
In other news, Jeremiah still hasn't taken off on the "walking" thing. He took his first steps, and then decided he didn't want to try anymore. He has increased in his ability to push chairs around (sometimes if I stand up for a second my chair is all the way across the room). I'm hoping that he will regain interest in walking without help. So, that's why there have been no pictures and videos recently. However, he will turn one on Friday, and his party will be Saturday. So, we'll make sure to post some pics of that!
That's all I can think of for now. God bless!