Summer is upon us - well, sort of. Every time it starts to get very hot, we get a rainstorm and it cools down for a while. I picked my first veggies out of my garden - two zucchini. The zucchini are doing well, the peppers are ok, and the tomatoes were looking great but now I have leaf miners and I don't know how to safely get rid of them!
We celebrated Thanksgiving this month - well, some of us celebrated it twice! I went to our pastor's house on Thanksgiving Day, and then that Saturday, I organized Thanksgiving at MBH for the ladies and their families - I had LOTS of help!
The Saturday before, my coworker Kundai came to help me bake pies. We baked SO many pies! Apple, pumpkin, cheesecake (lots of cheesecake!), and shoofly, with plans to make chocolate pie the next week; everything else could go in the freezer.
I love this recipe for cheesecake. It's so simple and you can top it with whatever you want. The next week when I defrosted them I topped one with chocolate shavings, one with chocolate shavings and raspberry jam, one with blueberry jam, and one with strawberries. You just have to be sure to let it sit overnight - actually, the longer it sits the better it gets. And it did GREAT in the freezer!
I decided to do the turkey the Friday before our Thanksgiving. It was with great trepidation I embarked upon this monumental accomplishment in my adult life - cooking Thanksgiving dinner with no mother around to help. This was my second time roasting a turkey, and the first time hadn't turned out so well - the oven broke halfway through, which was not my fault, but you can imagine how appetizing a half-baked and then boiled turkey is. (Answer: not very.) I was ALMOST the only American at there (Britt came for a while too), so perhaps no one would know what a Thanksgiving dinner SHOULD taste like, but as Makoena remarked, "We know it's supposed to be good food."
Actually, the chief complaints I got about the turkey were 1.) "Why did you take the meat off the bones??! We want to eat the bones!" to which I replied, "No one is getting an entire turkey breast!" and 2.) "Why did you take the meat off the bones??! We want a whole turkey sitting on the table like in the movies!" If you haven't guessed by now, they like bones over here. Never fear, said bones did not go to waste (making stock is still considered to be waste because YOU DON'T EAT THE BONES!). One person, who will remain nameless, devoured almost an entire turkey carcass and most of a two-liter of soda (cooldrink) for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving...
But anyway, back to that Friday. After popping the turkey in the oven, with hopes for the best, my other coworker Gertrude and I set about preparing the rest of the Thanksgiving meat - namely, my chickens which were due to be special guests at the dinner table! I have been keeping laying hens but they were a bit old, two years this past August. Everyone has had their eyes on them and their stomachs rumbling at the thought since the first day I brought them home, and they were pretty happy to finally sink their teeth into them! People love "hard chicken" over here. (I can't say it's my favorite, although perhaps it could be made into stew.)
I've never butchered chickens before. I have assisted with the butchering/processing of cows and deer, but I never had to kill and/or disembowel anything personally. The killing was surprisingly easy, although I felt sad about it beforehand. Taking out the insides was about as gross as you would expect it to be. And did you know chickens can still fart on you after they are dead? It's true.
Lest you think we were going to throw anything away, just know that they cooked the heart, liver, intestines, undeveloped eggs, feet, heads, and who knows what else. Yum. No, I didn't eat from this pot. Several people enjoyed it and someone finished it off the next day for breakfast. Hey, I'm just glad nothing was wasted!
I then proceeded to bleach EVERYTHING in the kitchen, some things multiple times - we hadn't planned on doing so much of it inside, but it started to rain and we had headless chickens and nowhere else to process them. Don't worry, it was all cleaned to within an inch of its life.
The next day was pretty busy - Kundai showed up again around seven in the morning to help me with dinner preparations. It took us all day! We baked a gazillion (aka six dozen) rolls from the same recipe my mom has used for as long as I remember. Of course there were a lot of other things to prepare too - and we needed to figure out a plan for setting up the tables inside since it was raining outside. Thankfully Britt figured something out while I was running around like crazy. (And if he's reading this, thanks to Garakai for picking up said tables...) We had a lot of people coming and not very much space, but somehow we made it work. It wasn't anything fancy but it was just perfect.
Meanwhile, all the kids ran around in the lounge and played in the cardboard house I built for Tadi and Big T.
The Zimbabwean singing group rehearsed their Christmas number in the office, providing a lovely soundtrack to our day. The rain fell gently outside and the rest of us ran around reheating the turkey and setting the table and getting out all the food.
Dinner itself was rather a rousing success and before I knew it, the serving dishes were almost all empty!
(There actually weren't any of these left at the end...)
We didn't have small chairs...so we improvised!
The chickens were a hit. The pot was cleared out in no time. I'm pretty sure I heard Hughlan (age 5) remark, as he gnawed on a piece, "Now THIS is what I call MEAT!" Very few things were left when we were done - the cranberry sauce, the sweet potatoes (forgotten in the oven), a little bit of green bean casserole, and some gravy. Oh, and some pumpkin and apple pie, although that is slowly being eaten. Everyone thinks pumpkin pie is sooooo weird but we had to have some! Of course, part of the reason for the rapid food disappearance is that people here are very serious about packing up the leftovers to take home! Give them five minutes and they can clean out the pans before you know what has happened! Ha ha! Everyone was flying everywhere with pie plates, trying to get a piece of everything. "We don't like sweets," they tell me, then moan happily as they devour the cheesecake. Yeah, right...
Funny moment of the day: Vimbai was trying to ask "Who killed the chickens?" but it came out, "Who killed the kitchen?" I took one sweeping look around at the mess that was Thanksgiving and replied, "Well, I guess we did..."
As far as the babies go - they are doing well! Baby M went to his forever family this month, leaving us with four babies for the time being.
L is growing up so fast! He started walking this month and NOTHING is going to slow this boy down! He would get up, fall, get up, fall, and get up again. His persistence is admirable, although I was thinking of sewing him a small cushion for his bum! Big T likes to take his hands and drag him across the living room, singing "Walk, walk, ev'ybuddy walk..." until L falls over (which is usually only a few steps as Big T goes too fast!) He's now doing quite well, although he still falls over a lot. I'm still waiting for him to start talking - so far he can approximate "thank you" and says "Yeah!" to a lot of things, although I'm not sure he knows what it means! Oh, and he melted my heart when I was putting him to bed the other night and he said "Eeeee!!" (Squeeze!)
J is a sweet seven month old now. He's the fattest little guy and is known as Mudhafi (Shona for, well, "Fats.") He can sit up nicely and is finally starting to push up off of his tummy. He's also getting VERY jealous when other babies are picked up! When you snuggle him, he smashes his face into you and gives kisses. He's so precious! He started food about a month ago and loves it all (avocados caused a funny face at first, but he's ok with them now). He didn't even need to be taught how to eat, he just opened his mouth and swallowed! He doesn't mess around with his food!
Baby C is five months. She's tall and lanky and would probably play basketball if they had it here. She's finally starting to dislike tummy time LESS, which is an accomplishment! She's also napping better, for which I'm very grateful.
C and J chilling before bath time
Baby "R" is almost four months old. She is much more active than C and rolls all over the place! She's currently the only baby in her room and is reveling in all the attention! She eats a lot and is getting quite chubby!
Funny moments this month...
In GC one night, one lady told us, "I have an onion salary. You look at it and it makes you cry."
After Black Friday, someone told me, "I think next year I will prepare to go out and shop at the black market!"
Makoena and I were trying to figure out how to adjust the stroller. Big T looked at us struggling and advised, "I think...I think...push."
One day Tadi had a nice dress on, and all day, everyone was telling her, "Tadi, I like your dress!" That afternoon, I walked out of my room in my PJ's/workout clothes and Big T exclaimed, "Abbie, ah-like-ah dress!" (I like your dress!)
Big T's eyes water a lot. One day I told him, "T, your eyes are leaking." He then proceeded to go on and on about how "Auntie Leakin' go bye bye." I have NO idea what he's thinking some days...
While doing Bible study, a friend looked at my cursive handwriting (cursive isn't a thing here) and remarked, "Abbie, you write like you talk!" (That is to say: unintelligibly...)
On a more serious note, I've started journaling on my computer this month, and it's been amazing. It helps me remember more things to blog about, but more than just that, there are so many sweet, precious, painful, funny, breathtaking moments in everyday life that I want to remember. Things people say, photos I can't post, videos of everyday life that might not mean anything to anyone except me - but that mean a lot to me. It's a great place to pray, too. It's helped me be more thankful for the everyday moments and even the trials that God is using to mold me and make me more like Him. Life hasn't been especially easy since I've been back. There have been hard moments, some grief, day to day stress, and it's just a very busy life where I sometimes feel pulled in twenty different directions. But, it's a good life, and even when the moments aren't always especially good, God is so good, and I am so grateful for that. He is enough. He is always enough.