Minimalist Baby gear

We bring everything to our mountain home by motorbike. Because of that it has caused me to rethink what baby things are necessary, which things are nice to help keep our sanity, and what things are really only clutter.

  1. Somewhere for baby to sleep. We have a borrowed pack n play. All my babies have slept in them. I don’t love them because…ugly. But, I always end up giving in to the practicality. We also have a few sheets, blankets, a wool waterproof pad, and a mosquito net.
  2. Somewhere to bathe the baby. We have a plastic tub inside the shower.
  3. Baby food gear. For us it’s a small metal bowl, a camping spoon, a blender, and a pot. We don’t even need a bib since it’s warm enough to just strip him down. We just bought a sippy cup that he’s learning to use.
  4. A baby carrier. I LOVE my Ergo.
  5. Diapers. We use cloth diapers (Flips) in the village, disposable when we are traveling. We also have a plastic lidded bucket for the dirties, cloth wipes and bottom spray, and we already had a “diaper” sprayer.
  6. Clothes. We get away with a few rompers, a few long sleeve pajamas and pants, and a few pairs of socks. It’s nice not to need much.
  7. Toiletries. We have baby soap, saline spray, baby Motrin, a snot sucker, chest rub, eucalyptus oil, a thermometer, and Medicine Mama’s sweet bee magic.

Non necessities that we have because we were given them, or because it helps our sanity.

  1. Toys. Ez likes the plastic clip rings, his bear, and Duplos. Period. Well he also loves anything that isn’t a toy like potatoes, pot lids, string, or trash. But we have Sophie, other squishy toys, board books, and cars if he ever decides to play with them.
  2. High chair. Sure we could feed him on the floor like we did for the first while.  But it’s nice to have somewhere that he stays put.
  3. Baby hammock. This isn’t so much for me, as it is for the ladies who help around the house. They don’t like to hear a baby crying on his own in a crib, and they love bouncing Ez to sleep…the hammock is a win for them.
  4. Baby book. I TRY to keep track of the milestones that so quickly go wizzing by.

I realize that everyone’s definition of minimal is different, and that actually our baby gear is quite extensive compared to our neighbors. Baby prep in the village mostly involves buying a bunch of sarongs, some baby soap and eucalyptus oil, and maybe buying or making a baby hammock. The sarongs serve as clothes, blankets, diapers, and carriers for the first months.

Is there anything that I’ve forgotten? Any gear that you think we should add?

 Life. Daily.

What our daily life looks like in our village home.

Ezra and Jude wake up before the chickens. Literally. We sit Ezra in his high chair in front of the open door. He watches the dawn, and the chickens flying down out of their tree.

Jude reads cartoons in his bed until six. OCCASIONALLY he will fall asleep again.

Then it is time for Breakfast. On this morning we eat a sailors’ breakfast of “hardtack”, salted meat, and cheese. We are studying explorers in History. Ezra enjoys papaya, sweet potato, oatmeal, or rice.

Next it’s time to get ready for school. Which mostly just means brushing teeth, clearing off their desks, and folding their blankets. Then school. Dad teaches Bible and then Science. 

Then it is mom’s turn. If Ezra is napping, it is relatively easy to read through history, help Jude with his daily five, and oversee Grey. If he is not, it gets more complicated. 

Michael begins language study around eight. He might walk to the village, or he might have a friend come by to study with him. His schedule is another post for another day.

We usually finish school by eleven. I will either quickly prepare something, or if I have help, the ladies will. They will wash dishes, wash clothes (and the cloth diapers), mop, and cook. It is SO much nicer when they are around. 
After lunch the boys will often go swimming.

I might be able to get some language study in. Sometimes I rest while Ezra is napping. When it’s dry season we would probably go visiting. But, since its slippery, slick rainy season, we hang around the house. 

Our house becomes the play zone for all of the kids coming home from school.

It gets dark at six, we turn on the generator, eat dinner, and watch a movie. At eight we turn off the generator, and go to bed. Bed comes early in the dark jungle after a full day.

Greens and Whining.

One loves yellow rice. The other loves chocolate cereal.

For lunch the other day we had rice, cassava and papaya greens in coconut milk, and fried tempeh

If you are thinking “my kids would NEVER eat that, and would just beg for some pizza.” Yeah. My kids didn’t want to either. And there was wishing for pizza. 

After their daddy prayed and thanked God for the greens that we grew in our yard and the rice and fish that we were able to buy with the money He provides us with, Michael reminded the boys that the Israelites whined and wished for pizza too…or er…leeks. 

The Israelites were bored. Bored of the miracle that fell from the sky every day. Yawn. They only had to pick up the miracle from the ground. Yawn. God provided the miracle Yawn.

It’s kind of hard to imagine that the thing the Iraelites called manna, and described as tasting like honey cakes would get boring. But, once it became usual they overlooked the miracle, the provision. 

I do the same thing…I overlook the miracle. I overlook the One that allows us to live and work in a simple, mountain environment. I strap on my big girl boots and figure that I am the reason we all survive. No wonder I end up becoming the Queen of Compain. Today I am remembering that God provides for us in miraculous ways. I am trying to be grateful for the manna. 

It’s not only my kids who need a spirit of gratefulness.

Birth choices

Mama + Ezra

A few hours old and snuggling with his mama.


When I gave birth two months ago it was a beautiful and powerful experience.

Sitting in my hospital bed, I thought a lot about the first world gift of choice. I had wanted to have a”natural” birth at home or in a birthing center. But, after looking around at the options, thinking about my husband and I’s own personalities, and counting our $$$ I decided that I would give birth in a hospital with a doctor. While we weren’t able to be in a birthing center like I had wanted, I WAS able to find a doctor who was chill with no pills. And, even if it was in a hospital setting, it was still a beautiful experience.


We welcome you to the world little one.


Being waited on by the nurses and staff gave me a lot of time to sit and reflect. I was able to sink into the reality (and wonder) of becoming the mother of a newborn again. I was also hit by the fact that my experience was oh so much different than my friends’ in the village.


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One day after being welcomed into the world, a healthy baby boy is held by his father.


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Chicken Knowledge

“Chickens. They have wings, feet, necks, beaks (peck, peck, peck, peck).
When they are laying an egg they say, “ge, ge, get it out.”
–J man explaining what he knows about chickens (but, the ge, ge, get it out joke is originally from his brother)

We have an eager young hen.
Several months ago she layed about eight eggs. We re-appropriated seven, thinking that perhaps she would keep laying. Being eager, our hen did not keep laying, instead she decided to sit on her one lonely egg.

She had picked a prime nesting box for her eggs. The hot real estate was soon invaded by other hens who mixed their eggs in. Soon the eager young hen had quite a few eggs under her…but with different setting times.

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I noticed a theme in my picture taking. I can’t resist taking pictures of my men sleeping. They seems so peaceful, and sweet.

From over a year ago…his book is upside down.

Also from over a year ago, but he still sleeps with his arms up like that.

Also over a year ago…maybe the arm up thing is genetic.

So sweet.

Yep, it’s probably hereditary.

More recent. He fell asleep while watching television in the evening. What a pose!

Making a cloth doll

When we first moved here, I started a list “100 uses for a sarong”. I’ve just barely made it to 20, so I guess 100 was quite ambitious. Maybe if I really break things down like 1. a carrier for betel nut 2. a carrier for water 3. a carrier for groceries…that might get me there.

I’ve since discarded the title. It’s now just a list of ways to use the multi-purpose sarong:

  1. Skirt
  2. Beach/after bath cover-up
  3. Towel
  4. Cape
  5. Head cover/sun cover
  6. Blanket
  7. Sleeping bag
  8. Changing room
  9. Backpack
  10. Baby carrier
  11. Child back carrier
  12. Chicken carrier
  13. Purse
  14. Nightgown
  15. Swing
  16. Baby hammock
  17. Stretcher
  18. Tablecloth
  19. Rain Jacket
  20. “hip pack” (if you are wearing a sarong as a skirt, you can wrap up oranges, candy, or whatnot in the front folds)
  21. Doll

Here’s the way that a doll is made:



Mr. Robot

Our ‘recycling’ bins are overflowing.
We don’t have a recycling truck that drives up to our house, and takes care of our trash. So, we have to get creative and try to re-use thing. We do have friends who love our bottles, and some of our cans. But, we often have more cans then we can deal with. That’s where Mr. Robot comes in.

We gathered up miscellaneous cans, wire, spray paint, paint pens, and some old wire.

G and a friend spray painted the body of the robot. Then they pulled off the labels on the tuna, and tomato paste cans. When the spray paint was dry I drew a face, hands, and legs on the cans.

Michael made holes in the cans with a large nail, and then fitted the cans together with a piece of red wire.

Mr. Robot has been loved and played with for the last few days. He has a amazing range of emotions that he can show with his tin face and limbs, but mostly it’s just melancholy. We are thinking of adding wires, and a frame to turn him into a puppet, and then we can teach him to dance.

Maybe that would cheer him up.

How to pass the time


Our family gets to spend a crazy amount of time together. Michael is often around the house, studying language, or working on projects.
To some of you that might sound like heaven, and to some…not so much.

Anyways, awhile ago we had to do our first long-Daddy-away-stretch.
Everything went really smoothly; not because I’m such a fantastically patient mom OR because my kids are little angels. OF COURSE NOT.
We had a lot of people ready to help us…our neighbors said I could send the boys over if I need a break.
We also had a plan for every day.
Every day, we’d reach into an activity jar, and pull out what we were going to do that day.

Here’s how it went:

  1. A sleeps countdown chart
  2. Treasure Hunt I made clues the G could read by himself. The boys followed them until the last one…in my bed there was a “treasure” bag for each of them full of whatever “treasure” I could scrounge up…straws, stickers, balloons, candy. Here are the clues:
    • Under the coconut tree
    • On top of the TV
    • In the tomato cage
    • By the soccer goal
    • On top of the big rock
    • In the generator shed
    • By the tall papaya tree
    • On the table
    • On the porch
    • In my bed
  3. Make a doll…er soldier house. I drew up several plans, and let them pick how they wanted to do it. We found a doll house on Made by Joel that fit their vision. They also drew up their own plans, of how to include an elevator, secret entrance, etc.
  4. Continue work on the soldier house. Apparently making things out of wood is harder than Michael makes it look. We picked out our wood pieces, planed them, and then cut them to size with a hand saw. We even had to rip a few pieces since all of our wood was hand slabbed, and nothing is a standard size.
  5. Sausage roast & swimming. We called our neighbors over to enjoy some sausages with us. They contributed corn and sweet potatoes. And we made some biscuits to roast on sticks. We still reminisce about how fun that was.
  6. Obstacle Course Like most boys their age they like competing; throw in a physical aspect, and they love it. To keep 4 and 7 year old feelings intact, I had them compete against themselves, trying to better their own personal times.
  7. Finger-painting J used a paintbrush instead of his fingers, he inherited Michael’s innate ability to stay clean no matter what.
  8. Potato print fabric
  9. Camping I was pretty nervous the whole time, even though we were right behind the house (I like having Michael around to explain the night sounds). The next morning we at oatmeal out of our tin cups.
  10. Greek masks (for history) I already posted about these.
  11. Make a swing. Once again tough with no pre-cut lumber, and not pre-fab hardware. We made do, and it works.
  12. Try to get more done on the soldier house. Still weren’t able to finish.
  13. Go down to meet Daddy.

We are looking at another long-Daddy-away time…though this time it’s only a week. And, then maybe another ten days at the end of the month. We’ll have to make another activity jar, do you guys have suggestions for easy activities that boys would like to do in the land of no libraries or play dates?

homeschooling: science

I mentioned before that Michael teaches the boys Science. Excuse me for a second while I praise my husband: Michael’s an excellent teacher that really knows how to make the lessons extra special. I like the Answers in Genesis curriculum because it has fun experiments planned out, but Michael has a knack for making them even better. In the book, God’s Design for the Heaven & Earth: Our Planet Earth, the boys learned about volcanoes; the different parts, vocabulary words, and famous volcanoes. The plan was to make the classic baking soda volcano.

So Michael took the original idea, and made it look awesome.

Which turned out to be a good thing because either our baking soda is too old, or our vinegar is too weak…so the exploding part was mostly a flop.

Here are the volcano bottle wrap files that the boys made for you.