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!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Photo Friday [111]

Today we celebrate the birthday of a very special little girl!  Can it really be a year already?  Actually, when I woke up this morning, I did NOT think about it being her birthday.  My thought was "WHY do my kids wake up so early!!??"   The boys sure remembered though.  They couldn't wait to decorate the house with crepe paper and balloons and are very excited about having a party (family only - no big shindig) for "Katy-Baby-Pretty-Lady," as they like to call her.

Speaking of pretty, yesterday Greg informed me that he had arranged the whole family on a cuteness scale, ranging from Caleb (worst) to Kate (cutest.)  Poor Caleb.   But nobody denies that Kate deserves to be at the top of the list.

A little while ago we got a small package in the mail with a surprise inside.  It was a lovely vintage baby gown, sent by Kate's great-grandma Simmons.  It's a tradition that girls in the family have a photo taken in the dress when they are a year old.  So here are some shots of baby Kate (and Myrna at a year old):

Last Saturday was the annual Craft Fair, where artists and crafters in our community (expat and Papua New Guinean alike) come together to sell their wares.  It's a fun chance to do some Christmas shopping.

 Greg had a little bit of money in his "spend" jar.  After looking at all of the options, he chose to spend his kina on dipping his own candle...

... and this pretty shell to add to his collection of treasures.

 Breaking for a snack while riding bikes.

 The boys really enjoy "playing house" with Kate, which seems to mostly involve throwing all of the toys that they can find into Kate's bed.  She thinks it's pretty funny though.

 Yesterday our lawn was mowed for the first time since August 11!  We normally have it cut every other week year-round, but because of the drought the grass wasn't growing and there was no need.  I felt bad for Sika, the man who mows for us, because he lost most of his livelihood for a few months when no one needed their lawns cut.  It was nice to hear the buzz of the mower and know that things are green and growing again.

Remember the flying fox eating our bananas last week?  Well, I decided to catch him in the act.  Brian and I were watching a movie on the laptop last night when we heard the loud thwap-thwap-thwap-thwap of our nocturnal friend flapping towards our fruit.  I had my camera ready and quickly tiptoed downstairs to spy on him through a dirty basement window.  

He (or she... or they?) has eaten more than a dozen of our bananas in the last few days.  But if you have ever had the experience of having an entire rope of bananas ripen at the same time, you'll understand that we don't really begrudge him the fruit.  We're hard pressed to eat them all ourselves!

Well, blog post is done.  That means I need to capitalize on my no-longer-baby's remaining nap time to decorate her butterfly birthday cake.  Until next week!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Photo Friday [110]

This week in the Frey household:

Kate has embraced her newfound mobility (she scoots on her bottom... very quickly now).  All of a sudden she doesn't seem so much like a baby anymore.

 Sitting where she can look out the window is a favorite pastime.

 Look mom, I scooted over to the top of the back stairs faster than you thought possible!  Perhaps you should be more diligent in making sure this door is closed?

 She has discovered the toilet - a very nice drum.  She was trying to be silly like her brothers, who were wearing their pajama pants on their heads.  She stole a pair and hightailed it to the bathroom as fast as she could, giggling.

Her brothers think she's pretty funny.

In Brian's world, the major excitement of the week was bringing phase one of a major electrical system upgrade online for the first time.

Don't ask me exactly how this all works, but the new battery house will integrate solar, generator and power from the national grid.  The batteries will store excess power produced by various solar systems around the center and will act as backup power when we have power outages (which is regularly!).  Previously we have experienced lots of power "blips" as the power switches from national power to generator and back and forth and back and forth.  With the batteries, we should have uninterrupted and clean power (less surges that can fry electronics).  This is a big upgrade!

 I tried to get a picture of him at work, but when I arrived he was just sweeping the floor while the other guys fiddled with the settings on the controls.  I guess they are keeping the "boss man" in his place!

 One night we had guests for dinner, and when they arrived Caleb was busy in the front yard constructing this.  When asked what he was doing he replied, in a very fierce voice, "I'm building an alter to my God, and he will send fire and burn up everything!!"  (Yeah... been reading about Elijah recently...)

 Evidence that the flying foxes have been enjoying the stalk of bananas that hang under our porch to ripen.

We're on day two of a new chore chart, and the novelty had not yet worn off.  The boys are begging for more chores.  I know this will not last.  Greg is really excited that we've decided he is old enough to have his own money.   If he completes his regular assigned chores, he has the option to pick some extra ones (the ones with stars), which we will collect for a week and then at the end of the week he'll get paid.  He's earning a whopping 10 toea per job (less than four cents).  This was decided in large part because we have a chronic shortage of coins here, and the 10 toea coins are the ones that I use least often.  Also, they are easy for a kindergartner to count.  And really, how much money does a 5-year-old really need?

To go with this, he got his three new money jars.  I, the crafty mamma, was on Pinterest looking for some cute printable money jar labels (of which there were plenty), but Greg was rolling his eyes at me, so I decided to make them per his instructions - just the words, in pencil only, and no pictures.  

(Yes, PNG friends, that is an empty SP bottle behind his jars.  Greg found it buried in the dirt in our back yard and thought it was just the kind of bottle a pirate/treasure hunter ought to have, so we cleaned it up and let him keep it.  Don't judge!  We're not letting our 5-year-old drink beer!)

Until next week!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Photo Friday [109]

Last Saturday was Carnival - an annual fundraiser put on by the High School.  The kids really look forward to this event every year.  Lots of fun games and food.

A bouncy castle!

Ice cream.

Ring Toss.

And this year there was a new event - jousting!  (Yes, that's a sawhorse on wheels).

Try to catch the rings to win candy.

Brian cleaned up!

This is Brian's auction face.  He was in the middle of some serious bidding against one of the helicopter pilots for a case of motor oil.  He got one case for the bargain price of 300 Kina... sounds like a lot, but apparently it really was a good deal - motor oil is expensive here!  All the items for the auction are donated to the school by PNG businesses.  Half of the proceeds of Carnival go to the school and half go to a charity.

 A sea freight shipment brought some belated birthday gifts to the boys in our family.

Also in the shipment was a Christmas present that Brian and I ordered for our family - a new top for the backyard trampoline.  We decided to go ahead and install it right away, because the old top was getting pretty scary and threadbare looking, and birds were picking away at the webbing for nest material.  

 Our testers say that it is very satisfactory.

 The boys help Dad change the injection plugs on the truck.

Rain this week!  Enough to make the grass start to green up a little and to fill our rain tank 2/3 full!  The boys were so excited they decided to go out and catch some rain water for our dinner.

 We've gotten lots of new books in recent care packages.  On a chilly morning the boys curled up together on the couch to read.

 A blanket fort under the kitchen table is a great place to watch Bible stories on the tablet.

That's all for this week!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Photo Friday [108]

Good morning.  I write this blog post in the dark... power is out.  I could call the on-call guy, but it's not even six a.m. yet (I'm up with baby), so I'll wait.  Brian spent a lot of time as the on-call guy over the years, so I know what it's like to be dragged from your bed.

Oh... power is back on!  Either the national power came back on, or someone visited the generator shed to re-start the generator.  We've had our share of power woes lately... the current system of backup generators is aging and struggling to keep up.  A new exciting replacement project is in the works, which will incorporate more solar power, but the next phase of that is waiting on some parts coming from Germany... which were sent via FedEx.  FedEx doesn't really exist in this country... so we're hoping they actually make it to us! 

Anyway, back to our week:

Greg shows me some kumu (greens) that his new friend gave him across the backyard fence.  I can't remember the proper name for this variety, but it's commonly known among the expat ladies as "ditch weed," since it is often planted in ditches and thrives on the moisture.  I was making chicken soup that night for dinner, so I threw it in the pot.

 A beautiful friendship has blossomed this week between Greg and this little boy, who is our backyard neighbor.  They have lived across the fence from each other for years, but haven't ever really played, despite my encouragement.  Though they are the same age, they attend different schools.  But one day they started talking over the back fence, and now he has been coming over to play every afternoon, and sometimes they make plans to meet after breakfast at the back fence to talk.

 What do five-year-old boys talk about?  I don't know - they won't tell me.

I realize that it's nearly Halloween in the U.S.  None of that for us here.  Our pumpkins don't ever really get orange, and we don't carve them, just eat them.  By the way, if you associate pumpkin with sweet foods like pies, muffins and bread, then it's a sure sign that you're an American.   Since we came to PNG we've learned to enjoy lots of savory pumpkin dishes.

Brian had to take apart my wireless flash triggers to get them working again.  In this climate it seems that if you leave batteries in anything without using them for a while you're asking for trouble.

 One of Kate's favorite things is to sit on the trampoline and bounce a little.  But she does NOT like to be bounced by her brothers.


While watching the kids playing the backyard I kept picking up these lovely frangipani blossoms from the grass, and I had to bring some inside.  These are some of my favorite flowers, and the smell amazing too.

Until next Friday!