Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The End is Nigh

Last night, Oscar surprised us by waking up a few hours after he'd gone to bed wanting to use the potty. He's been day trained since about Christmas, but I wasn't expecting night training to come any time soon. Wyatt trained himself by waking up and getting us, so it appears Oscar may be on the same path. That's good news in one way, but bad news in another: we have to convert his crib finally.

I was dreading the crib conversion. Sometimes the only time he takes a nap is because he can't get out of his  bed. I hope taking the side off and putting up the bed rails (which Oliver did this afternoon) isn't going to mean we are saying adieu to naps.

On the good side, though, this means the diaper stage is very close to ending around here. We've talked about having a third, but it definitely won't happen here, and possibly not at all depending on how we feel in two years, so this may be the last time I diaper someone full time. I've already begun to sleep through the night most nights (although night training is probably going to put that on the back burner for a bit), so the baby-stage is quickly ending. I have so many mixed feelings about that. It's exciting to watch them grow older, but it's also sad thinking about the things we'll never do again. I'm grateful I have no regrets about the time I've spent with them; that would have made this harder.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Just thought I'd link my first post on Mormon Mommy Blogs. They put it up today!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Reading Bug

hanging in the dunes
This pic has nothing to do with the below story. We went to the beach today to fly kites, and while the boys were quite excited about it, they quickly lost interest and ended up here in the sand dunes. We had to shoo them out right after I took their picture because they are sitting in the middle of a restoration project. All this beautiful greenery was planted sometime before we moved here, and the plants were pretty small the first time we saw them. They are growing back with a vengeance, and it's a nice thing to see. That is, if I can keep my kids from killing them....

Last weekend, we went to Florida for a shopping trip and to take the boys to the zoo. We bought about $600 in groceries, mostly things like spices and organics that we can't get here at all and I can't live without (or at least refuse to try!). We also took a trip to Barnes and Noble, a store we miss greatly. One of the things on my list to pick up there were some easy reading books for Wyatt. We have a lot of kid's books, but hardly any of them were written with a beginning reader in mind, so they haven't been too useful in moving him from letter sounds to actually reading in a book. I picked up a couple that seemed in his ability range, and we brought them home on the plane (most of the food-stuffs we mailed because we get a better rate at the WPB post office than we would anywhere else).

I partly picked up these books because I've had trouble interesting Wyatt in actual book reading. He's doing well with his computer program, and he likes the writing exercises I've given him, but I almost have to bribe him to sit down and work on reading from a book. We would get through a couple pages or two before it would get too annoying and I'd move him on to something else.

Yesterday, I pulled out one of his books and sat down with him right before bedtime. I didn't think we'd get far, but he kept turning pages after we'd finish one. He was sounding out words much faster and easier than he's ever done it before, and seemed to finally be catching on to the fact that you can't guess a word after figuring out it's first sound, you have to hear all of the letters. We were on page twelve when it was time for bed. I had to promise him we'd finish it today (there was a Lego fire truck riding on this - a couple months ago we promised him one when he finished his first book).

This afternoon, we did just that. He's now the proud owner of a fire truck, and I'm a very excited Mama. My excitement only compounded when we sat down to read books at night, and he brought me "Green Eggs and Ham". I was only going to have him read a couple pages, or even just the title,  but he just kept going and read most of the book. It took a half hour, but was so worth the time spent.

Back when we were just starting this journey, a friend told me that when it clicks, he'll just go for it with reading. I wasn't sure what that meant, but now I think I do. Reading is by far the one skill that has brought me the farthest in my life, and it's been amazing to be able to be the one that teaches my child it. I really don't know that I have done much that has felt as rewarding as this has. I still remember how excited I was when I suddenly realized that letters made words. It was a huge thing for me at six years old, and I see the same light in Wyatt's eyes now.

I really never thought I could teach him to read. He was interested, so I figured it was worth a try, but there's a reason I was in the secondary ed track in college. Elementary education was just not my thing. I'm glad I didn't let that stop me, and I'm glad I didn't send him to preschool. This was our thing, and I'm really grateful he let me be a part of it.

The other unexpected benefit is that Oscar is now showing signs of understanding that those scribbles on his books might actually mean something. After he sat and watched me point out each word for Wyatt to read, he wanted me to do the same thing with his bedtime story. I don't know when he'll be ready or interested in learning more, but that's one of the first steps to reading.

This is all very exciting, even more so than our growing garden. I love motherhood so much more than I ever thought I would!

P.S. Yes, we can pretty much growing anything we want year round here. The biggest problem we have is heat not cold, as it doesn't get into freezing territory. So, I can't grow things like lettuce, although I'm going to give that a try next winter. Right now, we have lettuce on the windowsill because the stuff we can grow is so much better and cheaper than the stuff that occasionally shows up in the store.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Garden Update

I went out and took a few pics of the hodge-podge of containers garden this morning. It's growing pretty well, which makes me happy. It's getting warmer, though, which requires more watering. I make sure to get out there pretty much every day, where before I could go three or four days and the plants were fine.

Here's a view of the raised bed, with it's two pepper plants, one tomato, and a summer squash plant:


The plants are immpressively large, and are pretty much filling the bed with their leaves. I like that, though, because they are shading each other at the same time. I planted them on the sunny side of our trailer, and am beginning to worry it wasn't the best spot. It gets very hot there in the evenings, and we haven't been feeling true summer heat as of yet. I'm actually prepping another bed on the other side of the house where it gets sun through the day, then is shaded at night. I moved the chives and basil over there and they seem to be liking it better.

Here's the bed I recently built:

It has about two buckets worth of Bokashi, but needs two more before I can really plant anything in it. The worst thing about doing your own composting is waiting for the dirt to be ready. I'm very happy I ran into the Bokashi method; it only takes a month from filling a bucket to planting out in it. It also helps to live in the tropics, where there are plenty of bugs to break things down. I do have to admit to being a little grossed out by all the grubs in my bed right now, though. There are so many it sometimes looks like the dirt is moving. The end results will be good, though.

Oh, and those cinder blocks are an example in recycling. We don't let things go to waste out here. I actually plan on bracing my tomato plant with some leftover trellising a neighbor gave us. We wanted it mostly for our stairs to hide all the outdoor toys, but he gave us twice what we needed for that project. That tomato plant is covered in flowers and I can see the start of the first tomato, which is very exciting. It will definitely need some help though, before we get many more, as it's leaning over the side of the bed:


Doing this whole little gardening experiment has also lead me to learn things I never thought I'd have to do before. Like pollinate by hand. Our squash plant looks beautiful and prolific:


However, most of the fruit has been withering as soon as the flowers fell off. I looked this problem up online and think it is due to lack of pollination. The flowers are only open for half a day, and while the ants love them, I guess the bees don't, although I see them in both the pepper and tomato plants. So, every morning I've been ripping out a male flower and pollinating the female ones (yeah, never knew the difference before now). The few I've been able to do that to are growing now, so I'm crossing my fingers we'll be eating them before too long.

As for the peppers, see for yourself:

These are the jalapenos. Both plants are covered in peppers, although I'm finding it very interesting that the one plant I moved and planted into Bokashi is looking healthier and stronger than the one I kept in the same bin, undisturbed. Presumably, both are benefiting from the compost, but one more so.

Finally, my Bull Nose bell peppers. I picked one the other night because it had a small rotten spot. It also looked a little deformed. We tried it, but I think it was too early to eat because it didn't taste particularly great. I'm going to wait for these, which look much healthier, to start to turn red before I try that again.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Of Fresh Fish and Blogging

I spent some time uploading pics tonight. I had a couple gig worth on my camera, and a bunch of posts I wrote in my head, but never got around to typing out here. Part of this is because I was recently invited to contribute to another site. I haven't yet been able to figure out when my first post is scheduled for, but you can now occasionally find me here, at Mormon Mommy Blogs. I started reading MMB a few months ago, and it's been a great place to read things of a spiritual nature now that I have no ward to attend. When they sent out an email asking for more contributors, I volunteered, and am thrilled to have been chosen. I'll link back to my first post when I see it.

Anyway, I decided to just pull one of my latent pics out and make a post about it tonight. Hopefully, I will eventually get around to catching up. If not, well, it just means more interesting things are going on.

The pic below is of part of the bag of Mahi-Mahi Oliver's Lt. so nicely gave us. He'd gone fishing that day, and come home with quite a lot of it apparently. (So, I just thought I'd throw this out there: Mahi-Mahi is actually dolphin meat. I really never knew this before now. "Fresh Dolphin" on the menu does seem like an appetite killer.) I ended up sharing part of it with our neighbors as I am really the only one who will happily eat fish, but there was still enough for me to make a couple meals. To prove how fabulous it was, I even got Oliver to admit it wasn't bad because there was none of that "fishy" flavor so common to fish long out of the water.

fishie fishie

Hopefully, I will be able to find a fresh coconut next. That would pretty much make my day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


My new computer finally showed up, and it seems to have survived the trip just fine. It was a pleasant surprise to come back from our shopping trip this weekend and be able to pick it up. I've got a lot of work to set it up the way I like, but I'm so excited to finally have a computer to call my own again. My old one is going to the daycare here on base, too, so that won't go to waste.

Oh, and Windows 7 is a winner. So is 8 gig of RAM. Now I'm going to go eat dark chocolate, as I'm all stocked up again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

School Update

I'm madly typing this post when I'm supposed to be getting us ready to get on a plane, so forgive me if it's a little disjointed, but I wanted to write a followup to the school issue I posted about. Before I do that, I wanted to say a big thank you to those that responded! That was kind of what I was hoping to get when I posted, and it gave me a lot to think about. It is very frustrating to not have people to talk to about this sort of thing out here. How did people get by before the internet?!

Yesterday, I went over to the school after Oliver came home for lunch. I had a talk with both the principal and Wyatt's teacher. The principal did try to convince me that staying the full day would be better for him, and that maybe this was more my issue than his, but she was willing to consider my proposal. She said that what they do in the afternoons for the kindergarteners is mostly downtime - things like art, and other quiet, non-academic projects because they are so young and adjusting to school. She said she'd ask the people over her because it's never been done and she wanted to be sure it was all right. That seemed a little odd to me, but I really don't know how this school works, so that's fine.

It was the teacher, though, who really made me decide to pick up the registration packet and cross my fingers. She is fantastic. Before I even told her I wanted to keep him home in the afternoons, she suggested it as a way to help him adjust. She said she wished more parents would do something like that as it is a really rough transition for most of the kindergarteners. I really felt like she was on my side. She's going to have a talk with the principal, so I hope that will be the final push to get official approval for it.

Although, as Oliver pointed out, what can they do if we just don't send him back every day? We're not too up on what schools do to tardy, etc. kids. Flunk them? Kick them out? Igonore it? I have no idea.

To clarify some of what I wrote eariler, I do recognize that homeschooling isn't really the social void people make it out to be. I also know I don't have to send him to kindergarten if I don't want to. However, I want to for several reasons, most of them related to where we live right now. Wyatt is an extremely social kid. He can make friends no matter where he is, and seems to crave that kind of contact. He plays very well with his little brother, but I know he wants to do things that aren't quite on a two year old's level. I want to give him that opportunity, but here, school is the only place he's going to get it consistently. Most parents work, as I said before, so the kids are never out playing during the day. We've managed to get our boys some time with the boys who live down the street that are their age, but it's only a couple of times a week and I know it doesn't satisfy Wyatt.

If I homeschool him, we are going to continue the somewhat isolating experience we've had so far. We've found it very hard to make friends because of the way life is here. As adults, we seem to be the odd ones because we don't drink and every social activity centers around alcohol. There's no church for us to go to, and not nearly enough events that we can take the boys to. We moved here for more family time, which we are getting, so this isn't a total tragedy, but I feel like I need to grab whatever I can to find a way to help Wyatt get what he needs in terms of social contact.

If we were in the States, I wouldn't have even had that conversation with the school. We'd just be homeschooling, and that would be it. I'd get him into sports, we'd have church, and hopefully a homeschoolers group to get involved in. We don't have any of those options here.

The thing is, I was homeschooled from third grade to college. My parents didn't do it to help us, they did it so they wouldn't get in trouble. While I know my mother made some efforts to do it right in the beginning, she gave up fairly quickly and left it up to us to educate ourselves. I have six siblings, so I had plenty of social contact, and I know my problems with people in later years are more related to the poor parenting I had than a lack of sociality because of homeschooling. I had no trouble adjusting to college life and graduated with honors.

There were things I feel I missed out on, however, and I don't want that for Wyatt. I wanted friends, and I wanted to do a lot of the things like sports that I loved but had no outlet for. Homeschooling right now is going to end up mimicing in some ways my own experience, so I'd much rather he be in school. When we move, we'll be revisiting this situation, and who knows where we will go with it then, but it will be a totally different situation.

I do love the school here. It's so tiny, it has the feel of a small private school. The people also are very friendly, and since there will only be four kids in Wyatt's class, he'll get a lot of one on one attention. The teacher also told me she tries to teach to their level, which is something she can do because there are so few of them. Right now, she has a kindergartener doing first grade math, and she's going to be giving him 2nd grade math in the fall. Wyatt wil be able to scream through what he's good at, yet keep working at what he's not. I really want this experience for him, but I want it to not be too much, too.

Right now, I'm hopeful this is going to work out. I'm crossing my fingers and we will see. Thanks again for responding!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Nope, the computer still hasn't made it here, although last I checked, it was through Miami. So, I'm trying not to freak out about it and think about other things. Like what on earth I'm going to do about Wyatt and school.


This wasn't supposed to be a difficult decision. From everything I'd seen and heard, the school here was going to work out fine. The class sizes are tiny, and I've yet to meet a single parent who is unhappy with their child's education situation.

And then I talked to someone who told me kindergarten is full day. That means six hours of school for my five year old. The one thing I swore I was not going to put him through. I know, I know, a lot of people out there think full day kindergarten is the be all, end all, but I'm not in that camp.  While I can see the value in it for people whose kids are in day care all day, anyway, I don't think it's necessary for my son to be sitting in a classroom for so long. He's already reading; what is six hours going to do that only four wouldn't have?

Yesterday, I had a conversation with someone who works at the school. She teaches there, and her kids are in the day care, which they are turning into more of a preschool. She wanted to know first what on earth I did with the kids all day and if it drove me crazy. (Not to start a big mommy-war here, but seriously? That is such an idiot thing to say to a stay at home mother. It's like if I asked her if she was upset she was missing out on so much of her kids' lives.) After I blew her off on that one, we moved onto more nuetral territory and talked about the day care. She's helping set up the preschool program, so encouraged me to check it out. I asked her if she thought it was at all possible for me to just keep Wyatt home after lunch (all the kids are sent home for lunch, then go back for two more hours), but she was very negative about it.

After this conversation, it appears I have two choices: send Wyatt to a ridiculously long school day that I am not at all happy about, or keep him home again this year and homeschool. I'm not at all against the idea of homeschooling, and have always thought it could be in our future with all this moving around, but Wyatt really needs some kids around him. He's reaching an age where I can't be everything for him anymore. I very much want him to go to school to make friends and have time to do his own thing. The academics I can teach him, but the friends? That's not so easy. And, really, homeschooling doesn't solve the problem because then he still has to go to first grade. I wanted a half-day to work him into going all day, and kindergarten is the only chance to do that.

I am considering putting him in the fledgling preschool program. A couple days a week for three hours at a time seems like it would be good for him. His best friend also goes there, so that's a plus. But kindergarten? What to do about kindergarten.... If we do decide to just send him here, that will be abit of a transition, too, but not particularly gentle.

I'm so stressed out about this. It's especially aggravating because I have absolutely no one out here that gets where I'm coming from on this. Every mother I've met with young kids works. So, to the internet I go in case someone out there might think I'm sane despite my stay-at-home-with-two-kids status.

I know some of my stress comes from my background. I'm so exceptionally aware how easily and quickly your life can be messed up. I don't want that for my own kids, so every decision weighs on me like a ton of bricks. What is best for him? It's so not clear to me right now. I know I need to go in and register him soon if he's going to school here this fall. Knowing that is not making this any easier.

This would be a lot easier if we were in the States. I'd be homeschooling him if all-day was my only option because I can still get him into sports and things. I'd also be looking at private schools to see if there was a program I was happy with within our financial reach. Here, though, it's all or nothing. I detest that, but I can't change it. So I'm left with a whole lot of questions and no answers.

Life is so complicated sometimes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Crossing My Fingers

I just got a confirmation that Dell has finally shipped my computer. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean it's going to be here tomorrow. That means it will be at the ShipitAPO office tomorrow. Then, it will head from there to here.

I'm freaking out a little bit about this. I did use this company on something else a tad less expensive in part to test the waters, and it got here fine, but this is an expensive system. Ugh; the next week or so until it makes it here is going to be tough waiting out.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Made Yogurt!!

So, in my continuing adventures of making stuff I can't buy here, I managed to make yogurt today. I had a few issues going into this project that needed to be solved. The biggest one is that you can't make yogurt with UT milk, which is the only kind of milk we can buy out here. Second, you need some kind of starter. The cheapest way to do this is to use a commercial brand that has live and active cultures in it. It should also be plain, although I've read vanilla can also be used with some success.

For the milk issue, I found some information online that said you can make yogurt successfully with powdered milk. The problem I had with this is that powdered milk is nonfat. I don't do nonfat. I know it's supposed to be healthy and all that, but nonfat anything is gross. We do fat in our house. Butter, whole milk, you name it, we eat it. So nonfat yogurt was definitely out. I decided to add heavy cream to it instead, after reading that cream, while also UT, is still usable in yogurt.

For the second issue, I got lucky. I'd toyed with buying freeze-dried starter, but hadn't taken the plunge. Then, this week, the store stocked some tubs of Dannon nonfat plain yogurt. Typically, I wouldn't buy the stuff because of the fat-free state of it, but it made for some great starter. I also have enough to freeze for later batches.

Yogurt is not that hard to make. The hardest part is figuring out how you are going to maintain a 110 degree environment for it to set up in. I trolled the internet trying to decide how best to go about this, and finally decided to use the cooler method. Because of the amount of yogurt I was making, I wanted to use one of our smaller coolers, but they both seem to have vanished in the move. So, put the two jars in this ridiculously large cooler and filled it with a lot of warm water:


I left it sitting on the kitchen floor for eight hours, cringing every time Oscar decided to climb up on it. After I put the boys to bed, I opened it up and discovered it had set up nicely:


Now I just have to figure out how to doctor it up nicely for the kids to eat in the morning. I also need to buy some more organic powdered milk next time we are in the States. I don't have much, and now I think we're going to be running through it sooner than later.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Egg Hunt in the Bahamas

Since having kids, we've gone to a few Easter Egg hunts. The worst by far was the one put on by the base we lived on in Washington. They had a big penned off area in the grass, and supposedly they were going to break us all up in age groups. Instead, when the woman running it couldn't seem to get the crowd in control (in her defense, there were a lot of people there, and only a handful of MWR folks running it), she just gave the go ahead to dump all the eggs in a huge pile. Wyatt was about 18 months old, and ended up without a single egg because we didn't want to fight the crazed fools (most of them parents) lunging for the eggs. I ran across one little girl who had about 30 eggs in her basket and asked if Wyatt could have a couple because he hadn't gotten any. She stared at me, then her mother made her give him one egg. Luckily, they had held some eggs back, so we were about to pick up about five more eggs for him, which was more than enough to keep him happy. We did, however, never attempt that one again.

This year, we had a much better experience. The rec committee on base put one on for the kids this Thursday. It was held at the Beach House, which here is actually the main bar. (Only here would you find such a thing, haha.) You wouldn't guess that from the outside. It looks just like a small cottage, with a nice deck overlooking the ocean out back. We all stayed outside on the deck, where this unfortunate soul showed up:

bunny time

I have to applaud this guy's willingness to wear fur here. We aren't experiencing the summer's full heat as of yet, but I sure wouldn't have wanted to dress like that. Oscar was too terrified to go up to him, and Wyatt was too busy hanging with his friends, but I finally made him go sit on the poor bunny's lap because I felt sorry for the guy. Most of the other little kids weren't willing to sit on his lap, either, although a few parents did make their babies do it. Wyatt did a great job of hamming it up, though. He even started flipping the bunny ears around to much laughter.

It was then time for the egg hunt. We trekked across the sand to a nearby stand of tropical trees. The ground there was full of roots and fallen logs, making a perfect place to hide eggs. The trees themselves were also full of branches and kinks to hold surprises (although, the kids were warned to not put their hands in any holes). They had also set up an area outside the trees for the really little kids.

I ended up taking Oscar inside the tree area because it looked more fun and the rest of the "little kids" were really just babies so I felt weird bringing him over there. I should have, though, because the older kids were a little over-exuberant and snatching eggs right out in front of us when we were clearly trying to help Wyatt and Oscar see them. I was a little annoyed by that, but they did end up with about 6 eggs each, which was fine for them. As it is, they've been eating candy way more than normal over the weekend and I can't wait for it to be gone. More eggs would have just meant more candy.

Everyone treks over to the egg hunt area. Wyatt is holding his best friend's hand. Incidentally, you are also looking at the entire kindergarten class for this fall. That is, unless someone else happens to move in this summer. They will be combined with the two first graders.

This is a shot to give you some idea what the area looked like. The ground was really soft in places, so I'm glad Wyatt had chosen to wear sneakers. I wasn't as lucky.

And, if all that weren't enough, they also had a cookie decorating contest set up for the kids. Everyone got three cookies, and could choose from four different frosting colors. There were then a lot of different sprinkles to pick from. The really little kids, Oscar included, had their own table, and the older kids stood around a couple of retangular tables. The table for the little ones was actually one of those extra high tables with bar height chairs. Not at all kid friendly, so I had to put Oscar on my lap to do this. He loved it, though. The frosting was in zip lock bags with a corner cut off, and I let him go at it with them. We ended up with a large cookie mess, but since we were outside and I wasn't in charge of clean up, I was totally ok with this. 

cookie making

It seems they do something like this every year, so I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully, Wyatt will be able to be a little more competitive in the egg hunt so we can concentrate on helping Oscar. It seems to be a full on task to keep the other kids away while he searches. He did, love it, however. He was so excited to find his first egg. I think we're going to rehide the eggs and let the kids have some fun on their own.

View from the back of the Beach House patio. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

You know you live in the Bahamas when:

  • Your husband returns home for lunch and announces he's done for the day because everyone else in the office is going out on their boats.
  • You get in the car, smell something suspiciously like baked apple, and look down to see the now brown top of the apple left in the car the night before. Picking it up, you find out it is, indeed, baking away in there. All it really needs is a little more time and some brown sugar: