Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Coconut Pancakes

Another new recipe that we love...coconut pancakes! Saturday mornings, Aaron always makes pancakes with the kids, and these have become requested every week. The pancakes are really more like crepes, and they are very yummy. Think about us and all of the coconut plantations out in the Russell Islands when you eat them.

Coconut Pancakes

Serves 4-6

Combine in a bowl:

2 c. flour

1/2 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder


1 egg, beaten

1/4 fresh coconut shredded

1/4 tsp. cardamom powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 1/2 c. milk

Stir until smooth. Prepare filling. Combine in saucepan:

1 1/2 c brown sugar

3/4 c. fresh coconut, shredded

3/4 c. milk

1/4 c. raisins

Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick and liquid absorbed. Heat 1 tsp. margarine is 9 inch skillet (Aaron uses two skillets to cook more efficiently). Pour in a small amount of batter, tilting skillet to spread batter thinly over entire bottom. Cook until nearly dry on top. Add a narrow strip of filling and roll up. Repeat with remaining batter and filling, keeping pancakes warm in oven. Serve hot. (From "More-with-Less")

Monday, March 30, 2009

And the winner is...

The internet has been down awhile, sorry for the delay! We passed the bowl around and each took a name out. The last name was a Georgia peach! Watch the mail in about three weeks...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Do visit Peggy's to explore the other daybooks

For Today...Monday, March 30

Outside my window...SUNNY skies, [a few minutes after I posted this, the skys clouded and rain began to pour as we ran outside to bring the clothes in!] cool morning ocean breeze blowing in to dry the clothes on the line and cooling the house

I am thinking...about my lack of discipline lately, especially in my prayer life. Katherine is finally sleeping well (after eight months of having to shush her during the night so we didn't wake anybody through the paper thin walls), so I'm sleeping better, too. I've got to reorganize my time spent talking with and listening to the Lord. As I'm beginning to put ideas into practice, I would love to hear how you pray for your friends and family: How do you organize your prayers? Do you have any favorite scriptures to pray?

From the learning rooms...finishing up the Civil War, more experiments with magnetism, Sarah - area of a triangle, writing a limerick, Benjamin - multiplying and dividing with sevens, writing a sensory poem, Olivia - adding & subtracting up to 20, antonyms, Katherine - games learning same/different, the composer Charles Ives, some active games for aerobic exercise this week, hymn study - "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"

I am thankful for...friends and family back in the States who haven't forgotten about us

From the kitchen...baked gingerbread oatmeal for breakfast (a new recipe from a friend in PNG), friends coming over for tuna braid tonight before they fly back to Australia tomorrow

I am wearing...hot pink skirt with raised thread ovals (a truly tactile experience from a remnant found at Hancock's), white t-shirt, bare feet, hair in a French twist

I am reading..."To Train Up a Child" by Michael Pearl

I am hoping...that my friend Elizabeth has a great race next weekend in the Paris marathon (she trains by running from her room to the Eiffel Tower and back!)

I am creating...lessons plans to carry us through our time in the village

I am hearing...kids doing morning chores, scripture memory CD playing very slowly on our dying computer

Around the house...wet clothes still waiting for the sun to come out (baby tropical storms love to be born here!), since the sun has come out I can catch up on washing sheets

One of my favorite things...a well stocked and organized pantry

A few plans for the rest of the week...meet with the SITAG director, check boats and schedules to see what will meet our family's needs best, sort through a big stack of old piano music that a SITAG family is giving away, beginning to pack as we prepare to leave shortly after Easter

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

on my nightstand, my early birthday present, a beautifully woven tray with a cloth that Sarah hemmed and embroidered before we left the States, my old Bible held together with heavy-duty tape

National Fish Day

I don't know who comes up with these crazy holidays, but they sure are fun! We pulled out the foam fish that I made years ago for Sarah (half have lower case letters, the other half have upper case letters). Katherine had a blast playing with them, and later Olivia joined her.

My camera battery died just before the girls started sorting them by color, but it was really sweet to watch them play together. Big thanks for the care package with the Goldfish in it - I've been saving them for today! Katherine had never tasted the cheezy crackers before and she devoured them (so did the rest of the kids). We enjoyed a fun, silly, and restful Sabbath afternoon.

Sweet Sabbath

Sarah found this cool, "fungis-y" stick yesterday

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour

In just a little bit, we will shut off the lights from 8:30-9:30 to observe earth hour. Some SITAG friends alerted us to this year's celebration, so bring out the candles and join us!

Crafty Girl

Benjamin decided that the SITAG kids needed to be more creative, so he organize a "model show" for this afternoon. No parading up and down a runway here, the kids each created a model of something. They even served Kool-Aid!
Since Benjamin organized the show, he didn't enter anything, but Sarah decided to make a Conestoga wagon and make the people and animals out of clay (thanks, Gayly!).

Obviously, Sarah didn't get any crafty genes from me! I am really proud of her ingenuity and attention to detail.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Giveaway Time Again

The craftmanship here in the Solomons is amazing. I wish you could see some of the beautiful bowls with inlaid shells, but this small example of a carved shell pendant will have to do for now. You have until midnight (CST) Sunday night to put your name in the "bowl". The kids have requested that the last name drawn would win this time.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Soft Granola Bars

When Aaron and I got engaged, the orchestra teachers with whom we taught gave us a recipe wedding shower. We still use the recipe card holder, and several of the recipes we received that night have become our favorite. One of the moms (who has four great kids) gave us a recipe for soft granola bars that we LOVE! Thanks, Julie, you didn't know the impact your recipe and life would have on two young kids who were getting married.

Soft Granola Bars

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 cups regular oats

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup raisins (we also like craisins)

1 cup chopped nuts

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease jelly roll pan, 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 inch. Mix brown sugar, oil and eggs in large bowl with spoon until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread in pan with spatula, patting evenly with hand. Bake just until center is set, but not firm, 17-20 minutes; cool 15 minutes. Drizzle with Honey Glaze; cool completely. Cut into bars.

Honey Glaze

1/4 cup honey

2 Tbsp margerine

Heat in saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until margerine is melted.

Today, I had a great helper in the kitchen. Thanks to some grandparents, we now have ground cinnamon and cloves and pecans (all essentials in the Choate kitchen)! So we decided that these granola bars were the perfect way to combine some of our favorite ingredients.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?

An interjection by Aaron, of his recent outing...

This is a shot of the vessel on which Henk and I traveled to the Russells. When we learned of it and I first talked to the crew, I was a little nervous. The ships in my 'vast' sea travel experiences have been getting smaller and slower. This is a wooden vessel that made me think of the S.S. Minnow for some odd reason. I was just hoping that we did not end up with the same fate. As to the question, what shall we do with the drunken sailor, well, that was the question of the crew the night we were to leave. He delayed our leaving by an hour and a half. At one point the second-language-Pijin-speaking-drunk-sailor was sitting on the railing of the ship, doing his best to befriend Henk, my Holland-born-Canadian-immigrant-second-language-English-speaking-house-building partner. Linguistically, I was very amused and intrigued, and felt very sorry for Henk. As the conversation and delays continued I actually considered pushing the guy overboard so we could just get going. Little did I know that he would, only a few minutes later, jump on his own accord. Sure enough, right after the splash off we went. However, the vessel, as aforementioned, is not that quick, and Henk's "new best friend", was able to swim over and get back on board. Thankfully, the rest of the night was uneventful. The following morning was a blessing in the east Russells. I got to see villages in the east side, which was a big help for me, and we watched a pod of dolphins frolic in front of the ship.

The rest of the trip was a lot of work. Not many pictures were taken because both eligible photographers were always working. We found a rhythm of working electrical and plumbing in the day time and walls at night. We were devastated to discover on Sunday night that the ship we anticipated taking back to Honiara was going to arrive a day early. What a bummer, my mind started spinning with all the things undone. We scrambled to complete all we could and to only start what we could drop if we needed to make a dash for the ship if it arrived. After two very tired workmen assembled a bunk bed, the night passed with no ship. The next day we found out the ship was back on the expected schedule and our lost day was suddenly gifted back to us. Thank you to all who were praying! So, Tuesday morning found us working to see if we could finish up the plumbing system after all. This involved a lovely orange tree, a not so level plank, a ladder missing a rung, and me on top of the roof mounting our gravity powered solar heated water system. Don't worry, I was not quite as close to the edge of the roof as it looks like I was : )

So, five days of work this trip, eight days total, lots of successes, a few disappointments, one bird checking out the new yellow walls and a sneaky little rat who just can't get the hint that he is not wanted, our crowning achievement was seeing this running water out of the kitchen tap. Well, what have I learned...I am not a plumber, electrician, or carpenter, but I have learned a lot...I can still work 16-17 hour days, but I am a lot more tired at the end of them...I thrive being a husband and dad, boy it was hard leaving them this time...
This was probably my one shot to give my four Blessings and my Reward the dream house I feel they deserve. It is not going to be what I envisioned, but I hope that with every speck of paint splatter on the window, every light fixture that sags just a bit, the toilet paper holder that is slightly not level...(I want to cry as I write this)...may all the labor of these days not be in vain, but truly be what God himself has done (Psalms 127:1) and may those that I learn to love more every day lie down in peace and sleep, and with contentment and assurance dwell in the safety that God alone has and will provide (Psalms 4).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

He's home!

Aaron walked in about 5:45 this morning, and we are sooo thankful that he is home. We are very appreciative of the prayers being offered around the world. Now for some coffee and catching up...


While we were on hiatus from the internet, my friend Gayly honored our blog with this award. I find this humbling since we can't have any of the links or beautiful decorations that we would love to have (slow download here in the middle of the Pacific). Gayly beautifully exemplifies Christ's pouring out of himself. My sweet friend has a knack for finding ways to give of her time, energy, and creativity to help out others. She has a passion for adoption as it is a fantastic picture of what God has done for us. Thanks Gayly for all of the ways you encourage me and my family!

Here are the rules of "Your Blog is Fabulous." I have to list/describe five addictions and then pass the award on to five others. I'm not sure what counts as an addiction, but here are five of my passions:

1. God - I'm so thankful for His sovereignty and His gift of Jesus.

2. My superman of a husband - Emotion overwhelms me when I think of this man who has watched me grow up. He demonstrates his servant heart every day; he is truly my knight in shining armor.

3. My incredible children - four lovely small people who have seen the worst in me, yet spur me on to be a better example for them; I have the most amazing kids!

4. Bible Translation - I wish each of you could see what I see every Sunday as I sit in church. It is my strong desire that everyone be able to read God's Word in their heart language. Lives will be transformed!

5. Life Long Learning - books anyone? I love to learn (a passion instilled by my parents, I'm sure).

The 5 blogs on to which I am passing this award (with much fear and trepidation because I know I'm overlooking many friends)...go check out their blogs!

Ann, a friend from seminary days. She was my faithful walking buddy and prayer partner when we both lived in Mississippi, now she still keeps me accountable as she serves as a pastor's wife in Southeast Arkansas. Ann oozes thriftiness, creativity, and home management!

Stacie, another missionary mom who serves in Papua New Guinea. I've learned so much from her as I follow right in her footsteps in this journey on which God has led us both. She has shown me what it means to call God our Rock as she steps out of her comfort zone each day.

Ranae and Arin (twins separated at birth, I think). I know I'm cheating by naming two blogs, but these fantastic ladies, both clarinet players, are friends from my former life as a musician. It has been so fun to watch how we've picked up the mantle of full-time mothering. They are certainly making an impact by serving their families.

Jen is a new friend. She has known my inlaws for many years, but I just met her via the web. It has been fun to get to know her better, and she has a talent for sharing MY thoughts (can you read my mind, Jen?) with a gift for words. God didn't make me a writer, but I'm sure thankful He created Jen to express herself well with words.

Another Joanna, just a few steps behind us on the journey to serve overseas. She has such a sensitive heart to hear the Lord speak. Looking forward to following her family on their upcoming adventure!

Thanks, ladies, for encouraging me and holding me to a high standard! I'm so very thankful for the blessing of technology that enables friendships to blossom from faraway.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Do peruse Peggy's to explore the other daybooks

For Today...Monday, March 23

Outside my window...it is dark and the lights on the boats in the harbor shine brightly, everyone is shutting down for the night

I am thinking...about the question I was asked by a neighbor this weekend "Is that a tatoo on your leg?" She saw the scar on my left leg from the cellulitis last December and thought I had gotten a tatoo! Are you on the floor rolling in laughter yet?

From the learning rooms...Civil War, Clara Barton (the kids loved this), magnetism, the composer Charles Ives (using the fabulous Classics for Kids website), headstands for PE, getting ready for a mini-poetry unit (inspired by World Poetry Day), plenty more but my eyes are getting heavy...

I am thankful for...children who want to make me breakfast in bed, even when they spill half of the ground coffee all over the floor.

From the kitchen...homemade granola and yogurt for breakfast tomorrow...and coffee, can't forget the coffee

I am wearing...green striped cotton pajamas, bare feet, wet hair still drying before I go to bed

I am reading..."The Farmers on the Hill" a book my sister gave me in 1986 (Do you feel old, sis?). It's a great read aloud set in rural Arkansas just after The Great War.

I am hoping...that Aaron can somehow replace or recharge the batteries in the radio so we can talk with him tomorrow, and that I hear from my mom soon about how my grandmother's surgery went.

I am creating...a more organized database for children's book lists, spurred on by a friend

I am hearing...the whir of the ceiling fans, bugs chirping outside, and the occasional gecko scurrying across the walls

Around the house...children going to sleep, Benjamin comforting Katherine as he pats on her back, all four love sharing a room!

One of my favorite things...waking up really early after a good night's sleep so I have lots of time to drink my coffee and read my Bible.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Aaron should arrive home early Wednesday morning to a big breakfast, and then we'll discuss how quickly we can make it out to Marulaon. Preparing should consume the rest of the week.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
goofy Olivia enjoying the package that came from the States today

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thankful for little things...

...like grapes! We walked into the bulk shop to find that a new shipment had come in. They had carrots, apples, and best of all seedless red grapes. Benjamin said, "Mama, it's been so long since I've eaten grapes that I've forgotten what they taste like!" The grapes were quite a treat and worth the splurge. They tasted great with the meatloaf, green salad and mashed kumara (a kind of sweet potato) last night, and we will enjoy carrot sticks and apple slices with our PBJ sandwiches for lunch. We really enjoy the fruits and veggies here, but who knew that grapes, carrots, and apples would be comfort food?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Odds and Ends

Thursday (National Incredibe Kid Day) was soooo busy getting Aaron ready to go, that we were only able to celebrate our four incredible kids just a little bit. While we were shopping for house stuff, we took the kids out to eat for fish and chips, and before we went to the market for fresh fruits and veggies, we swung by Frangipanni Ice for some yummy ice cream.
However, last week a fellow book lover recently introduced me to a smashing second hand book store where I found a few good books for my incredible kids. So, today I created a quick scavenger hunt and sent the kids searching around SITAG for their treasures. My kids really are fabulous. God created them all so very differently, but watching them grow, learn, and blossom brings so much joy to me (selfish, I know!).

Friday was the first day of Spring, and you know what that means?

New toothbrushes! A few weeks before any season changes, the kids always get antsy knowing that they will get brand spanking new toothbrushes. Now, the long wait is over!

Friday, March 20, 2009

And the winner is...

We'll mail your soap next week! Watch for the next Solomon Island giveaway sometime soon...


jewels on the tree beside our porch
We woke up this morning to yet another day of rain and clean clothes from yesterday still wet on the porch clothesline. Somehow, the weather mirrored our sadness at Aaron being gone, but the words of Job pulled my eyes off of myself and drew my heart's eyes to our sovereign Lord.
"How great is God -- beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out. He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams; the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind. Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion? See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea." Job 36:26-30

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Common-looking people

From our history reading this morning:

Common-looking people are the best in the world; that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them. - Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This just in...

Aaron just got back from the wharf, and he has found a vessel to take Henk, the house stuff, and himself out to Marulaon. They leave Thursday night at 10 p.m. (6 a.m. CST) and travel all night to arrive early in the morning on Friday. The plan is to finish the plumbing, mount rain tanks on the roof, install the solar panels and batteries, finish the wiring, finish building and priming the walls, varnish the floors, etc. We look for them to return early Wendesday morning after traveling through the night Tuesday night. Keep us all in your prayers while Aaron is gone and we continue with school and normal life here in Honiara.


Okay, I'll admit that I think blog giveaways are great! After talking with Aaron, we thought it would be fun to give away some special things from the Solomon Islands. Not a lot of things here will mail well, however, so we'll have to keep it small. Can't mail war canoes very well. So, here goes! You can enter the drawing by leaving a comment by midnight (Central Standard Time) on Thursday, March 19. We'll put all of the names in a "hat" and one of the kids will draw. Very scientific, of course. The first giveaway will be for some soap "hand-made from pure virgin coconut oil, processed entirely in the Solomon Islands".

Monday, March 16, 2009

Catching Up

Here's a quick catch up of our normal, everyday, boring, wish-you-were-here-to-share-them-with-us activities around the Choate house lately:

Last week, we made cookies (chocolate chip and snickerdoodles) to say thank you to the workers at the post office who sort all of the care packages we receive.

Each of the kids made their own version of Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" using paint, construction paper, glue and glitter (thanks, Gayly!) from the book "Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters" (I can't wait to try out Mary Ann's newest book about American artists!)

When Telecom came to fix the internet, they left a spool for a bunch of happy kids.

One day this week, we made pinwheels to help us understand our science lesson better. Katherine has been fascinated ever since!

Benjamin found a friend outside and enjoyed him for a few minutes before he made a spectacular getaway over the porch rail.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sweet Sabbath

another view from the beautiful island of Marulaon

"Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare." Psalm 40:5

Friday, March 13, 2009

Trip to Marulaon

the view from the lagoon downhill from our house

our new church, St. Matthias (women sit on the left, men sit on the right, children can sit on either side)

our alarm clock, the drum that calls everyone to morning prayer at dawn (did I mention the church is just next door?)

Now the fun begins as we dive into the world of finishing the house. God is providing for our needs in amazing ways (from money to help us set up house to an old man named Barnabas who has taken Aaron's language learning on as his special project) , and it is so fun to see Him at work!

Marisha and Mildred

We have befriended two girls from church - Marisha and Mildred. They have been very kind to come by after school and play with the kids while helping us learn Pijin.

Today, Mildred and Sarah made chocolate chip cookies to share with the workmen who are putting in a new fence for SITAG and some translators from Malaita.

One day a few weeks ago, Marissa came by herself and taught Sarah how to string Frangipanni blooms into a beautiful necklace.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Please be patient!

Aaron and some of the representatives from the translation committee

Our internet has been coming on for about 10 minutes every two or three days, and we really don't like not being able to stay in touch with family and friends. However, we are very thankful for the times we CAN be in touch across the ocean. Aaron is planning to go back out to Marulaon next weekend. He spent today pricing things like washing machines and batteries. I'm working on menus and buying food for our first stay - hopefully sometime in early April. Here are some observations from Aaron:

-Lots of people singing throughout the day

-Church was held primarily in Lavukaleve, so exciting!

-A market meets twice a week on a neighboring island

-Petrol (gasoline) is about $7/liter on Marulaon

-The house is in great shape to have sat empty for so long (what a blessing), yet there is lots of work left to be done before we will take the family out

-Rats think that abandoned ovens make cozy homes when lined with Ziplock bags

Thanks for your patience while we wait for the internet connection to be fixed. We look forward to more regular communication soon and regularly being able to post pictures.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

He's Home!

Aaron just came home a few minutes ago (a little before 5 a.m. here), thanks for praying for all of us. He had a great trip and plans to go back out after he can gather the supplies. If the internet cooperates, we'll post some pictures and more info.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, March 9
Still can't get the button to upload, but please swing by Peggy's to enjoy the other daybooks.

Outisde my window...a rosy sky, porch light illuminating the whites I hung on the line last night
I am thinking...about my sweet hubbie away on Marulaon until Wednesday
From the learning rooms...Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee, George McClellan, Sarah-multiplying & dividing fractions, parts of a formal letter, Benjamin-dividing hundreds, tens, & ones, contractions, Olivia-A & An, Numbers to 20, Katherine-dropping small things into a bottle, the discovery of lodestone (continuing studying magnets), finishing up Van Gogh and Tchaikovsky, jump rope for PE, hymn study-"Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart", beginning intervals & ear training for piano
I am thankful for...the internet being back on, I've missed keeping in touch!
From the kitchen...bar-b-qued meatballs, corkscrew pasta, slippery cabbage, & papaya for supper, but just plain camper's oatmeal for breakfast
I am wearing...olive green t-shirt, khaki skirt, jade and gold earrings that belonged to my grandmother, hair in a twist preparing for the day's heat
I am reading...Bill Peet's autobiography
I am creating...a meal plan for our village stay
I am hearing...a Passion CD setting the tone for the day
Around the house...mattresses sunning in the grass, washing sheets on this beautiful sunny day
One of my favorite things...when Katherine throws her arms around my neck and puckers up for a big kiss
A few plans for the rest of the week...awaiting Aaron's return and then frantic shopping (rain tanks, screens, appliances?) and planning as he prepares to return quickly to Marulaon and ready the house
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
my kitchen helper excited that Mama made brownies

Monday, March 2, 2009

Trip to Munda

Our internet connection continues to be out of order most of the time, but I did want to share a little bit from the last couple of weeks.
We are soooo thankful for your prayers while we were in Munda. The kids traveled well, and we feel like the trip was a big success! We even got to see the island of Marulaon (our new home) from the boat. Aaron said he wanted to jump out and swim!

Aaron observed the review process of some chapters of Exodus into the Roviana language, and every afternoon (after school work was finished) we had opportunities to interact with the community and practice our Pijin. One afternoon, Sarah taught some ladies how to make tortillas, and in exchange they taught me how to cook sour cabbage. We mixed some canned tuna in the cabbage and enclosed them in the tortillas - delicious! Another afternoon, we walked into town and toured the hospital and the translation office. Thursday afternoon, the scripture review team invited us to share a meal with them. On Friday nights, the couple with whom we stayed hosts a fellowship group for neighbor families, so we got to sing, study scripture, and play games. Some of the neighbors threw us a going away party on Saturday and gave us two beautifully woven fans. We attended church on Sunday and heard scripture, singing, and preaching in Pijin and in Roviana. That was HUGE! I even got to practice a new domain of Pijin when I made a trip to the clinic because of my ear infection.
On the trip back, we befriended a little girl about four years old. She sat squeezed in with the girls while I tried to translate picture books into Pijin (have you ever tried to explain Dr. Seuss in another language?). She shared snacks with Katherine and tried out the Crayola Color Wonder markers and paper. We arrived home tired, but feeling one step closer to serving the Lavukal in the Russell Islands.