Saturday, April 30, 2016

Wanna cook right now??

The neighbors had told me they would teach me to cook some things; however, our cooking day was interrupted by a bazaar day.  When they found out that the girls and I needed material for new dresses, they quickly decided that we were cancelling cooking and going to the bazaar instead.  That story is coming, but for now, lets talk about cooking.

Karis was looking out the upstairs window, and she told me that the neighbor was saying something she couldn't understand.  I went down to see her.

I couldn't get most of the words, but the next thing I know, her 18 year old daughter was coming out of the gate with a bowl FULL of rice.  The mother was asking if four cups was okay.  I said, "Oh no!  Two cups are good."  She laughed and said, "No, five is good."  And she sent the daughter over.

Once in the kitchen, she asked for hot water.  We boiled some, and then she soaked the rice, although I did limit her to TWO cups.  Then she said something about "30 minutes," and she left.

Forty-five minutes later, the 18 year old returned with her mother, her sister-in-law, and another lady that lives in their home.

The mother sat on the carpet and started peeling and cutting vegetables that she brought, and her daughter-in-law took over the rice, draining it, and getting it ready to cook.

Apparently, my pots weren't the right size; I didn't have the correct rice drainer; my oil and salt weren't like the ones they were used to, but Kylie made a quick trip to the neighborhood grocery store and picked up a few needed things, and we were good to go.  (Note: By the way, I have since been to the market and gotten the right pots and rice drainer).

They got busy cooking, and I got busy writing down what everyone was doing and adding.

The mother told me the daughter-in-law didn't add enough salt to the rice, so it didn't taste right, but it was pretty good to me.  The mother also told the others in the room how I only wanted two cups of rice instead of four, and they all had a good laugh.

At the same time, while all the cooking was going on, three neighborhood girls were dressing up like princesses in the front room with Keira.  It was a busy, fun afternoon.  Kylie and I had learned most of our kitchen words by this time, so we actually understood a lot that was going on and could communicate a little on our own, and that made it even nicer.

All the visitors' shoes.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Learning Language with M&M's

There are many ways to learn a new language.

My sister, who is quite the linguist, learns one way (very easily, I might add).

Some learn by immersion.

Some learn from Rosetta Stone or other on-line programs.

We used one called Pilat in Africa.

And now we are using another program called GPA (Growing Participator Approach).

We "grow" in our participation of the language.  For example, on March 13th, we started language, and yesterday, April 14, was the first time we spoke.

Yep.  All we've been doing this whole time is learning vocabulary words by listening.

As of yesterday, we had heard/learned about 589 words!!!

It's much like a child learns to speak his mother's language.  He listens for about two years, making some sounds here or there before he starts putting sounds together to make words himself.

We just sped up the process from two years to 25 days.

I thought you might be interested in some of the things we do, so I took a picture of some "lessons."

Here is one where we were learning vocabulary words about things outside.

We start with one card, hearing the word several times, and then we add more cards, one at a time.  After each added card, our language helper, tests each one of us on all the ones on the table (even if there are only 2), so essentially, we are getting to hear them a LOT of times.

Once we felt like we had a pretty good handle on all of the words, we looked at the picture below, and our language helper would say a word, and we would point to it.

After doing that for about 5 minutes, then he adds verbs, like: "I go to the mountain.  I stand in the snow.  I sit beside the river.  I walk on the sidewalk," and each time he says a sentence we choose the picture of the verb off the table (not shown here) and put that verb on the noun on the picture.

After doing that for 10 minutes, we would add adjectives: "The tired man looked at the sun.  The crying woman washed her hands in the river.  The old man sat on the roof and looked at the sun."

Confused yet?

Of course, by this time, we knew all the prepositions (in, beside, between, on, under, etc) and we had studied the adjectives (sleepy, hungry, tired, sad, happy, etc), so it just kept adding to what we already knew.

At the end of the lesson, we would make a video of all the new vocabulary so we could listen again in the evening.

It is difficult to hear and understand sometimes, but still, easier than speaking.

Another way we learn is through a book we have with pictures.  Our language helper will look at the pictures and tell us how the conversation might go in his culture.  For example, the page on the left shows a person sneezing.

Yep, in other languages, there are certain things you do or don't do when person sneezes.

The second series shows a person asking the time

The third series shows someone interrupting two people to ask a question.

You get the idea.

Then, once our helper discusses all the cultural nuances with us, we record him pointing at each series and saying what each person would say in each situation.

This video show us learning colors with M&M's, pencils, and cards.

Then, some days, we cover the table with all the items we can (they won't all fit), and our language helper will put random sentences together about anything, and we have to find the pictures that match what he is saying, from washing dishes, to eating food, to picking up clothes, to understanding the parts of the body (the word for nose is "kapoo" - pretty fun, huh?  And the word for mouth is "doe," which is what my kids call my mom, so that one should be easy to remember.)

We get excited when there's a "free word," like "plies" for pliers, "tip" for tape, "lampa" for lamp "potata" for potato or "kittlee" for kettle.  It's also nice when we hear something sort of familiar.  To say "this is a broom," it sounds like "owa jessica."  

And the color purple was the same as "purple" in another language we studied a little last year.

One thing I didn't expect was to be able to use anything we learned in Africa.

But the Lugbara had borrowed a lot of words from Arabic, so the words for "time," "okra," "pen," and "pencil, "for example, have been VERY close to what we learned when we were in Arua.

This isn't conclusive, but it will give you some idea of the kinds of things we do each day.

And that's how you learn language with M&M's!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bizarre Bazaar

The bazaar is not really bizarre, but I thought that was a fun title.

I do have a fun story coming (eventually) about our trip to the bazaar to buy material for some traditional clothing, but I don't have any pictures yet.  So, right now, I'm waiting for the outfits to be finished at the tailor so I'll have at least one photo for you.

These shoe stores are right across the road from where I bought dishes.

 Then, down a little further, are the fruit and vegetable vendors.

I think the colors are so beautiful.

You can see in the picture, Doug is pulling my "cart."  I take this with me (as do many of the ladies) so that it's easier to get all your purchases home.

 There is even their own version of Babies R Us on this road.

These are the cradles they buy for their newborns.

This picture just cracked me up, so I had to add it.  It definitely looks like the man who boiled this guy caught him by surprise.

Which leads me to the subject of chickens, which is a pretty big topic around our house.

We recently bought a mesh screen that can hang in our doorway.  We can close it with magnets as we go in and out.

We are also shopping for an outdoor fly-catcher of sorts.

All of these precautions are because the weather is starting to warm up, and the chicken business next door to our house draws a lot of flies.

I think the smell and the flies will increase as the weather gets hotter.

We've even talked about leaving the door toward the business closed, except for guests, and the rest of the time, we will use the kitchen door on the other side to enter and exit, so flies won't have as big of an opportunity to get in our house.

We'll see.

These are the chickens being unloaded for slaughter right outside our wall.  I saw this happen late one night, but when Doug saw it happen during the daytime this week, he thought he'd get a picture for you (he got a video too ,if you're really interested).

You can thank him later.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Keira will probably be the first one to learn the language here.

Starting from the time she wakes up in the morning, she is asking to go play on the street with her friends.

I have to explain on most days that they are in school, and she will have to wait until the afternoon.

Once the afternoon comes, she is out there listening, talking like they understand her, and doing whatever they do (which includes playing in a busy-ish street).  The other girls watch out for her, and are always glad when she comes out.

Starting last week, she invited them into her house, and they have been playing dress up with her princess dresses and having tea parties with her plastic dishes.

They all have a ball, and there is a lot of giggling.

One day, we watched her from across the street, and we would check on her every now and then.

But one time, when Doug went out, he couldn't find her.

He walked around the corner and she was coming out of a neighbor's gate, headed toward the "convenient store" with the other girls.

I went to her and asked her what she was doing.  She had small bill in her hand that the mom of the neighbor girl had given her so she could get an ice cream like the rest of the girls.

I walked with her in the store, she picked out her ice cream, and then as she went to eat it, I went to get money to pay the neighbor back.

These girls just wanted to make sure she didn't feel left out.

The playing mostly takes place in the afternoons, and I can only imagine that as it gets hotter, the "start" time for playing will be later and later.

One added bonus occurred this week when Doug took her to a nearby park.  Two of her friends from the neighborhood were at the park with their mother, too, so it looks like we'll be seeing these girls around.

I love that they come up and talk to me like I know their language.  They will tell me a lot of stuff with a lot of pointing.  I recognize words here and there, so it's coming slowly.

Yesterday, I was able to tell them that they couldn't eat in the room they were in, it was time to go home, they needed to pick up the room, and take off all of the dresses.

But don't be too impressed.  This is what I think I said:

"food no here"
"toys pick up"
dress finish"

Another great day!

Monday, April 18, 2016

We live in a "shabby" house

Our language teacher asked us one day why we lived in a "shabby house" in a "shabby neighborhood."

I didn't realize we lived in a "shabby house," but apparently, we do :)

We explained that we live close to the school where Doug teaches, so it's perfect for us.

Without a car, it's more convenient for us to be able to live downtown and walk where we need to go. We also don't live where all the foreigners live, so I think that is pretty strange to him, as well.

I think that because our house hasn't been covered in tile like almost every other house, it does tend to stand out, but there are benefits to that.

Their boldness in speech an be pretty shocking at first to a foreigner.

At the first tea I hosted, every woman in the room was promptly asked how old she was and how much each family paid for rent.  Apparently, asking about rent is pretty common, and even if you don't want to tell them, they will find out anyway, so you might as well tell them.

Nevertheless, you are most welcome to come and stay in our shabby house.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Dance, But Don't Shower

On April 2, the girls attended their first day of ballet (it also happened to be the same day our furniture was delivered).

They were put in the adult class because the girls in the class for up to 12 year olds was for beginners.   One caveat...they can't be in the recital unless they have a solo or duet, because the adults aren't in the recital.

No problem!

There were three other ladies in their class (there are 5 now).  One from Japan, one from Italy, and one from the Middle East.

The teacher is a Russian, French-trained ballet dancer.

She's tough, but the girls didn't mind.  They came out sweating and said it was a good push for them.

I think the only thing they have to get used to is her accent.  

When the teacher was counting, at one point, she said, "Free, four."  Kylie thought maybe she wanted them to do a "free" movement on the fourth count, but she quickly figured out that she meant, "Three, four."

When we arrived home, we ate lunch, and then the girls were ready to shower.

Kylie hopped in first.  

Doug had already left to walk downtown, and Caleb had left to play with some boys.  When I heard a knock on the gate, and knew it was a man, I was conflicted about opening the gate.

So I didn't go.

He knocked again.  I waited.  And then he knocked again.

I figured it had to be important, so I went.

It was the men at the chicken butchery.  I didn't understand them except the words for "water" and "stop."

They pointed to the water draining along the curb in front of their chicken shop.  It was soapy. 

They needed the water to stop.

It finally clicked.  

OUR shower water drains in the street in front of their shop.  

If you look at this picture, you can see a door in front of the truck.  That is a gate we never use, but that is the one they were knocking on.  You can see a small pipe at the bottom left of the picture where our shower water drains.

First of all, "YUCK!"

Second of all, I saw that they had poured new cement that morning on the curb, and they needed it to dry.

I ran inside and told Kylie to quickly get the soap out of her hair and then stop her shower as quickly as possible.

Karis would just have to wait.

...Until TEN P.M. !!!

We found out the time when Doug got home.  He went to talk to the men, and they asked us if we could not use any water on that side of the house (washing hands, washing clothes, showering) until 10 p.m!

Thankfully, I could still use the sink in the kitchen, but there were a lot of people in my family that needed showers that day.  

Everyone (except the 3-year old) waited up until 10, but by that time, I was too exhausted to wait through the line.  I'm the only one who decided to wait until the next morning.

So just in case you weren't sure, our life here is just like adventure every day!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Come, Sit, and...sit some more!

On March 12, we bought some couches and chairs that were delivered that night.

However, if you've been reading along, you remember that they were the wrong color.

Seriously.  The wrong color.

On the 13th, the furniture people showed up at our house with swatches to see what color we "really" wanted.  I guess the first time it didn't really sink in.

Anyway, they said for us to wait 10 days, and our new order would be here.

Then, on the 15th, some men showed up to pick up the wrong color furniture.  It just happened to be on the day when I had a house full of neighborhood ladies over for tea.

Twenty days later, we got a surprise.


I think I had already given up hope that they even remembered we had ordered furniture.

Two guys came to drop it all off.  One guy visited.  The other guy put all the pieces together.

They brought a drill, but it was electric-powered, and we didn't have electricity at that time.  Thankfully, Doug had purchased a battery-charged one for him to use to hang curtains, etc.  Otherwise, I'm not sure what they would have done.

Getting screws ready to attach the arm onto the couch

And, as you can see, they are NOT white!!!  They are the perfect shade of DARK grey!

Most people here, including us, were shocked that we actually ended up getting what we ordered.

What a blessing!

This gentleman unwrapped each piece, then pulled out all the "real" legs (black) and the "fake" legs (brown).

He first screws in the sturdy, real leg.

Then, he covers it with a painted, brown plastic piece that shows for a "nice look."

And that's how you put a couch together.

We bought couches that each fold down into a double bed, so that our children would have places to sleep when guests have their beds.

You know what that means, right?  

We're ready for you to come visit!



Friday, April 15, 2016

"Be Our Guest"

All I can say is, "Thank goodness these dishes aren't dancing."

Can you imagine if all of this glassware came to life like it did during the "Beauty and the Beast" scene where they sang, "Be Our Guest?"

These are a couple of the stores in the bazaar where I went to look for and buy our dishes.

I was trying to describe  to a friend the heart palpitations I was having with Keira walking around these stores with all of this glass.

And my friend simply said, "I'd love to see pictures of the dishes."

So the next time Doug and I went down there, I took my phone and tried to be discreet.

I think you get the gist.

It's pretty crazy how good they are at using the small spaces they rent for stores.

These glass tower displays were the ones that caused my heart to beat at an even faster rate.

These white ones on the bottom left are the ones I ended up buying.  I figured if we broke some, a simple pattern would be easier to replace than something more decorative.

I hope to show you  more of this bazaar as time goes on.

These pictures were taken in  only three different shops.

There are also shops for scarves, shoes, clothes, house dresses, plastic wear, etc.

It's quite a sight for the senses.

Not just sight, but hearing and smelling as well.

Monday, April 11, 2016

"Honey, I'm home"

Doug went for a walk to the center of the city.  

He was looking for a printer.

He loves exploring, and it's good for me because he finds out where stuff is, and he knows where to go when I need something.

After about 2 1/2 hours, he called me and said he was coming home with carpet.


I wasn't expecting THAT!

I rushed to vacuum all the areas, pick up school books, doshaks, tables, chairs, etc. and clean the rooms.  

I thought he must have hired a truck to bring the carpet home.


He tied it on top of a taxi!

Look at the size of these rolls!!!

Our rooms are not square, and Doug had given them the real measurements, but they wouldn't cut it like that, so Doug cut it when he got home.

Upstairs room.

Downstairs room (where the doshaks go).

Of course, I've been told everyone is rolling up their carpet now to store for the summer.

They like the cold tile for the summer, and I understand why, but two less rooms that I have to chase dust-bunnies in, works for me.