fried chicken, salad dressing and homesickness

I recently saw a photo of a friend’s groceries that she had just purchased back in the US which got me thinking about how I couldn’t buy any of those things here. Instead, I have to make most things from scratch, which was something I have learned only since moving to a country where things are not ready-made.  This made me want to compile a list of things, both food and otherwise, that I’ve learned so far from my change in geographical location.

So without further adieu, here are a few things I’ve learned thus far, starting with some of the food stuff:

  • Cream of chicken soup doesn’t have to come out of a can. Neither does any kind of soup and homemade actually tastes better! Who knew?
  • Salad dressings are super easy to make if you are willing to be creative, though I can’t wait to get a salad covered in Ken’s Thousand Island when I go home.
  • Every Southern woman should know how to fry chicken and should go out and learn right now if she doesn’t.
  • Spending $8 on a good square of cheese is necessary at times.
  • Boxed milk is a poor substitute for the real thing.
  • The apple is the most reliable fruit God created.
  • Cooking an entire meal from scratch, while exhausting, is supremely rewarding.
  • Two flavors of yogurt don’t cut it for me. Wait, there’s three now they added the ever-flashy vanilla to the line-up.
  • Heavy cream cannot be duplicated here in any way I find appealing, very sad if you know how much I love it.

Some other thoughts that are not cooking related:

  • I miss the beach and being very far from one makes me miss it even more.
  • September – December is the most painful time of year to be away from home.
  • It is crushes my heart to tell my three-year-old repeatedly she can’t go to her Nanna’s house, or her cousin’s house until next year.
  • I am very privileged compared to much of the world.
  • I still need to grow up in so many ways–whatever that means.
  • God can use my passions for His glory. I wished I had known this when I was eighteen.
  • He also uses places of isolation and loneliness to get our attention in ways he could not otherwise.
  • It is probably not a great idea to blog when I’m homesick.

And there are probably about fifty other things I could write, but that’s enough soul-bearing for a Tuesday. I hope Wednesday is a bit lighter. We are all learning something about life wherever we are, right? What’s something you’ve been learning lately?



keeping on

A quick update on where I am with the writing process. I have reached 50K words of the rough draft and I’m very excited that the end is in sight! At least the end of the first draft. It has been a great learning process and I will definitely do things differently the next time around, but for now I’m trudging on and hoping to get the rough draft done in a few weeks. The biggest issue of course is time to myself. It seems I am never alone and that is challenging.

But still, it is coming along, so we’ll see what the next phase holds after this one is complete. I assume it will be slightly more painful and require a great deal more coffee and patience, but I’m ready for it to begin!

obligatory post

Just a quick report so you know I have not fallen off the face of the Earth (though lately the idea sounds intriguing):

– Yes, I am still writing and that is going all right. Cheers to me!

– Yes, my kids are still sick and yes it has almost been a month since it all began because we picked up strep at a birthday party.

– Yes, my war with ants, geckos, and mosquitoes for possession of my home is still going strong.

– No, we will never go to another children’s birthday party at a restaurant until my youngest is 10 and remembers to frequently and heavily apply antibacterial hand sanitizer.

– And finally, yes, I am still horribly afraid of street dogs, street cows and other free-running wildlife that I encounter on my afternoon walks to the bus stop. I have an umbrella that I take with me and it’s not for the rain.

So that’s an update of sorts. Hopefully more to come soon!

girl talk

Our oldest son is wealth of insights into culture. At his school there are a handful of foreigners (my son included), but mostly it’s an all-national school which we like right now. When he comes home I like to get as much information from him about his day–I’m a nosy momma. Typically, he will walk in and I’ll ask about his day and he says “fine.” Fine is a rather broad description, so I have to dig deeper to discover any useful information about his day.

Today, he was telling us about how he shared his cookies with a friend. We had met this friend before out at a mall, so I was glad my son was sharing with him instead of eating six cookies himself. He then told us about this friend (a boy) who has a sister that doesn’t go to school. Hum. Having met their family and I know she is school age, even older than our son’s friend. He then told us about other friends who have siblings that don’t go to school. In the class there are 18 boys and 7 girls and this is not unusual. It is not uncommon because boys are more valued, over all, than girls. So if you can only afford to send one to a nice school, then it’s a no-brainer, you send your son because some day when you are old, he will take care of you. At least that’s the hope.

So maybe I’m overly sensitive to this issue. But I like to think God puts things in our path and on our hearts for a reason. I can’t imagine being a girl in a family where you know your brother will get more opportunities than you. What a depressing feeling. What’s also hard to understand are the frequent stories of the abuses that unwanted girls endure. Newborns left to die in trash heaps, abandoned because they were not born the desired gender. And that’s just one of the ways people rid themselves of a perceived problem girl-child. The numbers don’t lie and the problem is getting worse instead of better.

 “The latest census shows that the gap between the number of girls per 1,000 boys up to the age of six has widened to 914, a decrease from 927 a decade ago, at the 2001 census.” Taken from The Guardian, 25 May, 2011

The chasm between how many females are born and males is much wider (and widening) than it should naturally be here and while it is widely acknowledged that even though it is illegal to find out the gender of a child before birth it still happens and many female babies are aborted. That breaks my heart because I am a woman, I have a daughter who I love dearly, and the world would be missing out on so much beauty, creativity and mercy and fun if she were not in it. Boys and girls bring different gifts to this world and both are equally special and equally needed. It’s perfectly designed that way.

I have been reading Captivating by Stasi and John Eldridge, which probably explains why my son’s comments struck my heart today.  What a great book for me right now as I ponder being a woman. Highly recommended for women of all ages and I’m sure I will have more thoughts as I read along.

Anyway, of course this is a big country and there are plenty of people who value women and girls, granted. Still there is a huge problem that cannot be ignored and certainly there are some trying to address the issue. But it requires the thinking of millions be changed. No small feat to be sure.

At the end of the day I wish I could take some of these neglected little girls from the streets home and clean them up, put a pretty dress on them and tell them they are beautiful because God created them and loves them for who they are. That not being possible and with a problem so big, how does one begin?