Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We've Moved!

Dear Friends,

You may have thought we deserted you completely...but it is just not so!

After a long break we have launched new and better media. Check out our new website at:

Sunda says, "Check out the new website! There are lots of cute pictures of me and my sister!"

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Today I decided...

Today I decided that sleep deprivation is a mindset. I can refuse that mindset if I want to. And I want to. I am perfectly fine (truly) and will sleep through the night again someday.

Along with that revelation, I decided that I am honored and blessed to care for my healthy, happy baby. Anytime of the day or night.

I decided that Sunda deserves the utmost of my patience and humor. Especially when her sister is being impatient. It’s not Sunda’s fault.

I decided that walking around stressed because of having a few full time jobs makes me look old and haggard. I’m only 26. I’m not old and haggard. Mascara helps this effort. So does refusing to be stressed. Your lack of planning does not constitute my emergency.

I decided that my husband being away is a great time for me to concentrate on Jesus, my girls, and myself. And to give myself pedicures and watch Friends marathons (I decided I’m not tired, remember?)

I decided that joy is a decision. Contentment is a decision. Love is a decision. And grace is a decision. It will be abundant in my life.

It's cool to be able to decide that. Good thing I can rely on God for the follow through...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Baby Foodie

Let me tell you about this baby of mine: She LOVES to eat.

I should’ve realized it from the very beginning when she was furious every 2 ½ hours on the dot. Forget trying to push for 31/2-4 hours between a feed. This kid was serious about mealtime.

Around 3 months, she started staring longingly at everything we were eating and drinking. And at 4 months, she was reaching for it and shrieking. Nowadays, we have to have something for her to hold, suck on, or drink during mealtime, or else we would have one angry girl on our hands.

The first time I gave her rice cereal, she literally attacked the spoon. I couldn’t get it in her fast enough. Now that she is eating solids, she hasn’t met a food that she doesn’t like. She doesn’t make a face, she doesn’t spit it out, she just swallows quickly and opens up like a baby bird, begging for more.

Because of her quick adjustment to and her apparent longing for food, I started Kya on solids during her 5th month instead of waiting for the traditional six months. What can I say? I’m rebellious like that ;)

So far, she has tried and loves apples, bananas, pears, peaches, carrots, butternut squash, avocados, and sweet potatoes as well as rice cereal. I wish I could say that Kya’s love for food has developed because I have been making her baby food with my own hands and adding love to every “from scratch” serving. But alas, I think she’s just a baby foodie and would eat baby food out of a jar, off the floor, or otherwise.

I have really been enjoying making her baby food, however, and I’m really excited for the next two months when I can start experimenting with different combinations and dishes. Just wait ‘til she has teeth! Homemade baby finger foods fill me with excitement! Baby omelettes, baby pancakes, and baby veggie sticks! Baby yogurt parfaits, baby pot pies, and baby pasta dishes! The combinations are endless! (Does this make me a weirdo?)

I don’t have much time in my life. Really. So, this is how I make baby food:

When I grasp a rare minute, I take a large batch of the fruit or veggie of my choice and peel and chop it I stick it in a pot with a bit of water and put the cover on. Usually, I then get distracted by some other job.

When I get another minute, I boil the food until it is soft enough to fall apart when I try to pick it up with the fork. I try not to add too much liquid while cooking so that I don’t have to drain any off when it’s cooked. Then, I get distracted again because someone has called or knocked on my door or needs me RIGHT NOW. So I put the cooked veggies/fruit in the fridge until later.

Later, I put the food into a mini food processor and puree it smooth. Sometimes I have to add some water or milk (especially in the case of sweet potatoes) to make it a good consistency.

I never strain anything. I take the pureed food and scoop it into ice cube trays and freeze them. When they’re frozen, I put two or three cubes into individual Ziploc bags (Thank you packages from America!) and label them. I’m thinking it probably takes me 30-45 minutes for a batch of baby food that yields enough for 10-15 meals. So, I spend about an hour a week making baby food. I’m sure it will get a bit more labor intensive when I start combining more things and making finger foods. But right now, it’s easy-peasy.

I don’t have a microwave, so to thaw and reheat the food, I boil the tea kettle and pour the hot water into a bowl and put the small Ziploc bag with the food inside. Then, I am just extremely wasteful and snip off the corner of the Ziploc bag and squeeze the food into a bowl (keep those packages comin’!) I really dislike washing out Ziploc bags. Bad missionary. Bad.

I have this theory that because the food is not always a perfect consistency that it will be easier for Kya to adjust to eating more finger/”adult” food when the time comes. This may or may not be true. Or she’ll probably just really like to eat and it will be easy because of that. And then I can pretend like it was because of my genius baby food that saved me loads of money. (We’re talking 15% of the cost of jarred baby food in Zambia…WHOA.)

For the record, Sunda is also a great lover of food. This particular picture features beans and nshima (nshima being the staple food of Zambia.) Some of her random food loves include: Marmite and toast, hummus and veggie sticks, Nutella with ANYTHING, and anything that involves eggs or bacon.

Friday, July 2, 2010

What should my 4-year-old know?

Most of the people that I've had contact with lately will tell you that I sound like a broken record about my concerns for Sunda's education and myself as her teacher. It's a lot of responsibility! My latest thought is that I wouldn't put my children into any school (private/public/Christian or otherwise) that didn't have goals, a mission statement, and a philosophy of education. So shouldn't I be developing those things for myself? I mean, I AM the principal, administrator, and head teacher of the Schwertfeger Children Academy.

Fortunately, I have a lot of really cool friends who know A LOT about kids and education. So, I'm not alone in forming my goals. In fact, those friends are probably the very reason that I want so desperately to be informed and intentional about my kids' educations.

This year, I started the SONlight 3/4 year old curriculum with Sunda. The curriculum itself is basically a very informal mix of Bible lessons, fairy tales, poems, classic kids' books, and activities designed to encourage imagination and a love of reading in your child. It's great. Sunda and I have spent countless hours reading since January. She has gone from not being able to sit through a picture book being read to sitting through 5 or 6 long, involved stories and begging for more!

But me, being the overachiever that I am, thought that maybe I should add a little more to her Kindergarten prep. A little number recognition, perhaps? Some simple phonics? Maybe some pre-writing skills? Before I knew it, I had amassed a pile of "School Preparation Skills" books and we were going at it with a vengeance.

This led to a couple big problems. First of all, Sunda was NOT interested. She became a different child when I brought out the "workbooks." Fidgety, disobedient, and pouty. She had to be heavily encouraged to just follow my directions. And she didn't portray any of the skill sets that I thought a child of her age should be able to display. (The book says 3-5 after all! And she's older than 3! So she should be able to do it! RIGHT?!) She would rather doodle in the margins that follow the lines. Would rather beat on the book like a drum than count the colorful items inside.

I started to think that there was a problem. That I was a bad teacher. That maybe Sunda was a little behind. That I wasn't giving her the best opportunities by teaching her myself.

All the while, I BELIEVED in the concept of experimental learning. We do it all the time. It's just that I thought I ALSO needed some concrete proof. Something that I could hold up and show the world: I homeschool my child and she is really clever!

(The first pump of a borehole well in a village that's never had a reliable water source!)

Just as I was kind of realizing that I probably needed to just give her some time, some experiences, and some TLC, I came across an article that asked this question: What should a 4-year-old know? "Yes!" I thought. "That's what I need! Someone to tell me exactly what my 4-year-old should know!" You can imagine that reality smacked me when I realized that I have been way too worried about all the wrong stuff. I may have shed a few tears as I got through this article and felt the weight of the world lift.

So, here it is:

1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.

2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn't feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.

3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.

4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he'll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.

5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she's wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it's just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that-- way more worthy.


My child is 4 1/2 and can just barely count to twenty. She knows her alphabet, but can't write her name. She's not even close to knowing how to read. She doesn't know anything about the names of planets, presidents, or dates in history. And she doesn't sit for much except for the stories that I read her and an occasional "Wonder Pets" episode.

Aside from the times that we spend together reading and exploring (about two hours in the morning), she spends from 8am-6pm playing outside (independently) with her friends and by herself. And here are some of the things she DOES know:
How to make a fire and cook on it.
How to plant a seed and harvest it. And what plants produce what veggies.
How to wash clothes by hand and change her sister's diaper.
How to wash a truck and help her Daddy fix his motorbike.
How to do a front flip on the trampoline.
How to apologize when she has the wrong "attimood" with her friends.
How to bathe and put lotion on herself.
How to make scrambled eggs and every ingredient that goes into a cake.

She understands family dynamics and why she looks difference than Jacob and I. She makes up elaborate, detailed stories and shares them in front of groups of people. She greets about 20 people by name every morning.

She can PREACH up a storm and makes up her own worship songs regularly. She prays for people when they're sick and regularly informs me about what God expects of us.

Needless to say, our schooling has taken a little bit of a different slant these days. We're going to be spending a lot less time with workbooks and some more time doing the stuff that Sunda loves to do, with a bunch of learning naturally thrown in.

And if she can't read by the end of this year...that's okay. That's why it's great being the principal of your own school. :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Internet Finally Works!

Look again at the blog I posted this afternoon to see the pictures. They wouldn't load until now. Gotta love Africa Internet!

My husband's coming home tomorrow! (He's been gone all week on a trip to South Africa to see Germany/Ghana play in the World Cup...maybe he'll give us recap?)