Five Island Sojourners

A blog about Homeschool, Cooking and Life in the Tropics

Check out my new website!

My heart is racing faster than a Minnesota pastor’s wife at a knitting convention.

We’ve opened a new-fangled website for this blog:

Thanks for all the encouragement and feedback you’ve contributed over the past 4 weeks.  I’ve got some velly-velly interesting blog posts in the works.


My digitally-intuitive husband is setting up a new website for this blog. Yikes-a-be!  I’ll share it with you as soon as we’ve worked out all the kinks.  In the meantime, here are a few pictures of the gorgeous furniture I’ve seen around town over the past couple of days.

The old classic kuala-bears-climbing-the-kitchen-sink– every girl’s gotta have one of these:

Followed by this Queen-Victoria-Meets-Alice-in-Wonderland sofa set:

Always happy to keep you entertained.

~Island Sojourner

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Harness the Power of the Pioneer Women

I fall down on my knees in awe of the homeschool pioneer women– our faithful predecessors who blazed a trail for us through the fearsome quagmire of home education in the early 80s and 90s.  They marched ever forward without Google, e-books or digital curricula.

Let us not forget their sacrifices.  Those once bush-whacked trails lay now-paved before our feet. We are blessed to live in their shadow.

I’m not afraid to imitate them, in fact, I glory in the knowledge and resources gained from their struggles.  I pacify my guilt, believing that they would want me to follow in their footsteps.   Remember, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”  The logical inference that I choose to draw from this biblical truth is that its okay to copy other people.  Print their free resources.  Mimic their glorious homeschool setup. Live their dreams….strike that last one. I got carried away.

And one other thing: live in the glory of the e-resources available to you in this digital age.  Harness the power of the internet!  (I love the word harness, it’s visceral).

Do it for your children!  Do it for yourself!  Do it for your sanity!

In light of that, I’d like to post some of my favorite websites and resources:

For fun spelling games:  Spelling & Vocabulary Website: SpellingCity you can enter your list and it will generate tons of games and activities for your child.

For reading activities: Starfall’s Learn to Read with phonics  This is a phonetically based reading website that will entertain your child for hours.  Its appropriate for age 3-8.

For awesome science games, activities and the like: Play Interactive Games, Puzzles, and Quizzes — National Geographic Kids

For cool science links (videos and games): Usborne Quicklinks: US English: Select a link  This website links with their books, but you can gain access to it whether or not you own the book.

For read-aloud books: One More Story: Authors You Know, Books You Love! An Online Reading Experience.  For about $36/year, you can subscribe to this website which reads books aloud to your kids.  There is a free trial on the website.  The website shows each page, turns the pages automatically, and provides closed-captioning so your kids can read along with the words.  What is this, heaven?

This is my all-time favorite homeschool resource blog:  She’s got all kinds of helpful hints, free resources and encouragements to lavish upon us lesser mortals.

And this amazing math teacher has posted countless games and activities that he has gathered over the years. God bless him–I say that from the depth of my soul.

For resource ideas and interesting community questions, checkout:      Pioneer Woman Homeschooling | Ree Drummond     I started following The Pioneer Woman, back when she was knee-high to a grass hopper in 2007.   Now, she’s practically a household name.  I love, love, love her insightful, fun personality and all the gorgeous pictures on her blog.  Plus, she cooks from scratch, so her recipes are always helpful to me here where we have to start from scratch for everything.  It’s amazing how similar the wilds of Oklahoma are to the remote islands of SE Asia in relation to the availability of food.  I also love her cookbook, which has gorgeous step by step instructions and lots of cool pictures of their ranch.  Anyway, on top of running a nationally-acclaimed blog, hosting episodes of her own cooking show, writing four books and feeding the ranch hands, she home schools her 4 children.  I think there are 52-hours/day in her universe.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl


What Happens in a Moment of Mental Abstraction

Lydia ordered these fried sausages yesterday when we were playing with friends at the local pool.  I was busy chatting-it-up with my girlfriends.  By the time I realized what she was eating, she’d already wolfed down half of them:























Let’s take a closer look a those puppies.  Drumroll please…





















Can you think of an inoffensive description for these?  I’m at a loss.

I’m afraid these sausages wouldn’t fit into any of the appropriate categories of the food pyramid.  Is there a category for “Unidentifiable meat products rolled in a powder-like substance”?

She followed that up with a quick Cow’s Eye Egg:






















Don’t worry– that’s just the local term for a fried egg.

It only took 3 years and 10 months for us to plummet into the depths of Third Culture Syndrome.  What has become of us?



Redemption’s Song

Our generation values brokenness and authenticity.  As children, we witnessed the downfall of Christian leaders such as Jimmy Swaggert and Ted Haggard.   We began to wonder at the apparent dishonesty of the older generation.  How could they live such double lives, all the while claiming to follow Christ?  We vowed to be different.  And we now have a voice. The voice of our generation is a brutally honest one—it speaks of brokenness, pain and grief.  Our voice is inviting in its openness.  It is real in its invitation.  It is shocking in its raw, open vulnerability.  And we know that we have overcome the barriers of two-faced Christianity that our parents’ generation set in the path to our sanctification.

Is brokenness the closing line of our story?  Are pain and grief the last stage of our journey?

At times, the chasm of grief stretches wide in our path and we long to jump into its fathomless grip— to be home, to be at peace.  To be with God.  But here we are, stuck on earth, stuck in this broken place.  Will we live out our lives in this desert-place of affliction and heartache?

What happened to wholeness?  What happened to hope?  What happened to dreaming with God and living the abundant life?

When grief and pain rise up to meet you in this world, listen for the voice of God as He sings His redemptive song over you.  His voice is louder and more beautiful than our generation’s voice could ever hope to be.


The Glory of Stockpiling

There’s nothing worse than suddenly realizing at 4:30 pm that you have no idea how you will feed your family in an hour.  And for those of you who have a passing understanding of first grade math– that’s right, we eat dinner at 5:30pm every night.  I have no excuse except to say that my kids want to go to bed every night at 6:30pm.  Correction: I need to put my kids to bed every night at 6:30pm.  It’s a sanity issue.

I have created a simple stockpiling system for those days when I’m caught off guard.  And every time I pull a baggy of whole wheat pizza dough or a bag of whole-grain pancake mix, I fall a little more in love with myself.

Around the beginning of the month, I set aside a three-hour chunk of time when I have committed to updating my stockpile.  I grab a can of diet coke and a tranquilizer gun.  Okay, nix the tranquilizer gun but be sure to have a couple of extra-strength tylenol on hand.   My kids love to help me and it can get a little crazy in our 3’x3′ kitchen.

Grab your high-powered mixer and set out the ingredients you’ll need to have on hand.  Here are the items that I try to keep in my stockpile:

4 pizza crusts– place each crust in a plastic baggy and toss them into the fridge just prior to the last rise

Homemade Maple Syrup

4 portions  (2-cup) whole grain pancake mix (all the dry ingredients for your fave pancake recipe + the oil)

A couple of casseroles

Here’s the only thing I need in my freezer:
6 cups of mozzarella for the pizza and some pepperoni if possible

4 cups of homemade pizza sauce (or just a can of spaghetti sauce if you don’t have the latter)

Voila, Now I have all the basic stuff for 10 last-minute meals for the next month.  Obviously, the pancake mix can be used for breakfast.  And I usually keep about 4 fresh apples in our fridge, which we can throw on the table to counteract the carb-load.

Most of my stockpile recipes are inspired by the contents of this Holy Grail of all Whole Grain Baking Books:

King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains (King Arthur Flour Cookbooks) King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains (King Arthur Flour Cookbooks) (9780881507195): King Arthur Flour: Books

My copy of this book has been eaten by a rat, smeared with batter  and sprinkled with hundreds of droplets of various liquids such as orange juice, water, milk and oil.   Homer, the rat who lived in our oven two years ago, nibbled along the edges of the book.  My theory is that he was enticed by the luscious fragrances, which were absorbed in its pages over the past 5 years.

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My First Novel: Let the Games Begin

Look at these crisp white pages waiting there so patiently.  There they sit, just begging for the massacre editing process to begin.

I feel like Jessie Spano in this Classic Episode of Saved by the Bell.  “I’m so excited!  I’m so excited!  I’m so… SCARED!”


Put on your dancing shoes!

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When The Heavens Open

About once every six months, the heavens open and God ordains to bring us some kind of special treat from home.  In the past 18 months, a Starbucks has opened on our island, a chocolate store selling Hershey’s bars and now, a gourmet pizza shop.  Kyle and I drove to the mall every other day to check on the Starbucks build-out.  They knew our names before the shop even opened.  When I saw the Hershey’s chocolate store, I literally swerved two lanes in speeding traffic in unabashed excitement.  And so you can imagine our JOY, when God gave us a gourmet Pizza shop.  The fact is, we’ve had a Pizza Hut here for years, but the sauce just doesn’t taste right, the “sausage” is just seasoned ground beef and the salad bar looks less appetizing than your Grandma’s nursing home buffet.

Look at these eight little pieces of pure-heavenly-bliss.  These are the leftovers from our lunch.  And they DELIVER!  Is this heaven?  Do you notice the little packets in the top right corner of the box.  It’s Parmesan!  Do you hear me?  Parmesan, people!  I fail to understand how they can afford to include two tablespoons of parmesan in each pizza box, when a cup of the stuff costs upwards of $8 on our island.  I voiced my question to Kyle when we beheld their menu for the first time, and he promptly responded, “Lower your voice.  Smile and nod, smile and nod.  Act like its normal.”  This is what we call Expat Syndrome– marked by episodes of hoarding, maniacal driving and unexplained fits of nodding at inappropriate moments.


The Gift

Yesterday, my husband gave me one of the best gifts a husband can give  his wife (and mother of his 3 small kids), 24 hours to myself!!!  I checked into a local hotel, and barely left the room to grab food a couple of times.  I revelled in the luscious smell of bleached sheets, and a chance to watch Western TV.  But, I spent almost the entire time completely absorbed in writing a short story.  I wrote from 3pm straight through until 11:30pm, with a 10 minute break to walk across the street and buy a Starbucks sandwich for dinner.  I woke up at 6am, went back to writing and stopped only for a short breakfast, then met Kyle in the lobby at noon.  It was heavenly.  Does it sound heavenly to you too?  Anyone, Anyone?  Bueller?

I was so full of joy and thankfulness as I walked quickly across the street to purchase the sandwich– I literally burst into tears on the walk.  When I’m writing, it feels like a huge adrenaline rush coursing through my body.  Like I’m running a marathon.  It’s addictive and hugely enjoyable.

In preparation for my day away, my homeschool desk looked like this at one moment:

I noticed the horrid state of my desk after I had said to Shay, “Please clean up your workspace.”  Ironically, his work space was cluttered with only a few papers and pencils.  I am ashamed.