Sunday, August 31, 2014

How NOT to Build an Oven

When we first got to the island, we stayed in one house for about seven weeks, waiting for our long term rental to become available.  Because of this temporary living arrangement, we did not unpack most of our things but left our stuff in boxes and bins, stacked 6 deep in the expansive living area.

Because we had boxes and bins stacked 6 deep in the living area, making a cluttered mess, I did not have the desire to spend oodles of time cleaning the house. Nor did we have most of our stuff out to keep us entertained on lazy days we spent in the house. 

Pinterest to the rescue!

One project we attempted was to make a solar oven, using objects from around the house.  I got the instructions from Pinterest, and with our supplies we were ready to build!

(As a homeschooling family, we try to incorporate projects and group activities whenever possible.)

Paige is my crafter, project maker, artist, creator, and motivated learner.  Project?  Paige is the first in line, the boss, the know-it-all, the taker-over-er.  She gets it done while everyone else runs away and hides from her.

Her favorite materials are:  Paper, tape, glue, scissors, tape, more paper, tape, pencils, tape, tape, paper, tape, and knowledge.  And tape.

Notice the electrical tape she's using?  They'd already used all 10 rolls of invisible tape I'd brought that was supposed to last a few months.  (Months?  What was I thinking.  Days.  It lasted days.)

During a project Phoebe is enthusiastic, gung-ho, happy to help, excited to learn, ready to be included, and interested in participating.  For about 5 minutes.  But she really excels in those 5 minutes!

See how well she's using the Exacto knife? 

Wait.  What?  The non-yet six year old is using an Exacto knife? 

She really, really wanted to use it, like big brother and sister.  But after seeing her attempt to use the knife, it took Exacto 1.764 seconds before I took away the knife and found her some tape. 

Josh.  What can I say about Josh?  1.  He is the middle child, and as such, he has an older, much more motivated older sibling who loves to take charge.  2.  He's lazy.  So if said older sibling will do the work for him, even better.  3.  He doesn't care one tiny speck about projects, school, crafting, creating things, or Pinterest.  Unless it's Legos, Minecraft, or paper airplanes, he's a zero project kind of kid.

He did hang around long enough to hear the science behind the oven and see the basic design.  He also got to use an Exacto knife which is always a big deal for him.  Guns, knives, weapons of mass destruction; those are his favorite subjects. 

Finally, we Paige got the oven constructed.  I will not bore you with the instructions.  Boxes, Paige, tape, aluminum foil, more tape, plastic wrap, and a hot sun.  Boom.  Done. 

What should we cook?

"I know!!" chimes in Mom the daft and ridiculous. "How about trying out our new untested oven to cook not something easy and fast like cookies or muffins, but how about potatoes?  They only need an insanely hot oven for a very long time.  Sounds perfect!"

What.  A.  Dork.  The oven got up to maybe 150 degrees, and after three hours, the potatoes were not even the slightest bit cooked.  (And the solar sill we tried at the same time made exactly ZERO drops of water for drinking.)

Meanwhile, as the potatoes didn't cook and the water didn't water, the kids tackled another project.....

.....watermelon seed spitting!

Finally, something for which we all can excel!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lionfish First Aid

How to treat a lionfish "sting":

 1.  REMOVE ANY VISIBLE SPINES (don't dig them out)

  Put the affected area in as hot of water you can stand without burning.  Right now.  Hot water.  Keep up the hot water for as long as you can.  Reheat as necessary.

3.  Watch for signs of an allergic reaction. Call 911 if there are signs of anaphylaxis.  
 4.  Be more careful next time. 
5.  You won't die, but you may want to. 

(Disclaimer (isn't it sad that this is even necessary?  We are so litigious.):  I am not a doctor, nurse, EMT, or any other trained medical practitioner.  I am merely the first aid responder in our family's lionfish sting encounter.  Ask a doctor or call poison control if you want more advice.)
For more information, click here.

 OK.  Now that we've gotten the answer out of the way, here is the pesky back story that most bloggers, including myself, start with.  But when I really want to know how to substitute eggs in a recipe, I don't really care how the blogger's day went and all of the other boring unimportant details of how their toddler's potty training is coming along.  

Answer, please!!

If you're interested in the back story, keep on reading.  If not, leave now.  It will be boring, unimportant details that will not help you feel better at all if you are looking for lionfish sting treatment. 

Jerry has been spearfishing for years, and despite the poisonous spikes of the lionfish, he has successfully speared and killed dozens of these invasive, voracious reef hunters. 

He's always been very careful to avoid the spikes, using any tool necessary to keep his phalanges far away from the pain.  Even the kids subconsciously keep their fingers far away from the lionfish. 

So if Jerry is so safe, how did he get poked?  Simple:  GREED.

We were out on the boat as a family, along with a family friend on his boat.  Jerry and our friend are both hunters, not fishermen, so we went to one of their favorite spots to spear some big fish.

They were in the water for maybe 20 minutes, each scoring a few large reef fish, as the kids and I watched out for sharks and waited to cheer their successes.

It's a big thing, spearfishing spectating.  We watch Jerry's arm pull back on the sling.  We watch Jerry dive down to retrieve the spear and hopefully a fish.  Jerry, when successful, resurfaces and raises up the fish as we burst into applause, hooting and hollering, with vicarious triumph.

But this trip was different.  After he resurfaced from taking a shot, he immediately swam back to the boat, throwing the lionfish and spear into the boat as we all scrambled to get out of the way.

He pulled off his gear, telling us he got stuck trying to spear two lionfish on the same spear.  He had one on there already, and as he (???) tried to shoot again, the first fish slipped back and stabbed him in the knuckle of his right hand.

The pain began within a few minutes; not much at first, then quickly progressing to probably a 8-10 on the pain scale. 

He described it as if he were being repeatedly stabbed in the hand by a burning red ice pick.

As we were about to get dumped on by a rainstorm, and not knowing how long the pain would last, we headed to a beach right down the shoreline to wait out the rain and the pain.

How stupid were we to have zero knowledge about what to do.  Dummies.  The bunch of us.  


1.  What would you do if you had severe pain that felt like burning, along with major swelling?

a.  add hot water
b.  add cold water
c.  pee on it
d.  amputate the affected limb

We answered "b", because that's what we've always been told:  Twist an ankle?  Put ice on it to decrease pain and swelling.  Rash?  Ice.  Sunburn?  Ice.  

If you also answered, "b", you would be as wrong as we were.  

After an hour of intense suffering, we realized his hand was getting worse and we needed to do something.  I had him put his hand into the small cooler full of ice that we had, and he alternately put his hand in and took it out again.  He said it hurt not to have the ice, but also hurt to have the ice.  

We had a long boat drive back to the dock, but thankfully our friend was there to back the trailer into the water.  We immediately headed home to find out what to do.  

Poor Jerry was writhing in agony while the kids and I sat silently, praying, and trying not to aggravate the situation with pesky words.

Upon arriving back at the house, Jerry went to take a shower in case he needed to go to Nassau for treatment, and I got online to look up lionfish first aid.

That's when I discovered that I had really messed up and done the exact wrong thing.  


Immediately I ran into the bathroom to tell him to put his hand in hot water.  I yelled, "HOT WATER!!" at the exact same time the water got hot in his shower and he felt instant pain relief, with Jerry yelling, "HOT WATER!!"

As there were no barbs left in his skin, and he was not showing any anaphylactic shock symptoms, we knew he would be OK.  He soaked his hand in hot water for a few hours, threw back a few Dark and Stormys, and by the next day he was experiencing only minor to moderate, yet bearable, pain.  

His hand was insanely swollen for days, and his knuckle remained swollen and immovable for weeks.  Eventually he needed antibiotics to clear up a lingering infection, but the pain and most of the swelling were gone. 

He still can't totally straighten that finger as his knuckle if full of scar tissue.  Hopefully with more time, he will regain full range of motion with that hand. 

From all of this we learned a lot.  Here's a quick summary:

1.  If it stings you and is from the ocean, add hot water.  (Lionfish, sea urchins, etc.)
2.  Don't wait it out.  Get home, get treatment right away.
3.  One should not try to get two lionfish on the same spear.
4.  I should learn how to back up a trailer and be less useless backing things up.
5.  Lionfish taste great.  Even if they have previously stung you.

In the end, we ate the SOB that stuck Jerry.  He was tasty.  And Jerry now has a personal goal to kill every and all lionfish he spots, even the little ones. 

Lionfish:  1

Jerry:  5,484

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bahamian Clouds

Here in the Bahamas, the sky is right there.  Right above you where it's supposed to be.  Yet somehow, the celestial elements seem closer, intense; MORE.

I'm a cloud lover and this is one small reason why I love it here.  The clouds put on a tremendous show, almost every single day.  But you have to look quickly......

 .....because if you don't look quickly, or if you look away......

 .....perhaps to another stunning view like this one......

 .....the clouds will change, grow, expand, collapse, diminish, explode.....

.....and leave you complete in their beauty.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Seafood Buffet

So far you've read about the kids, the dog, and a bit about me.  But what about Jerry?  Isn't he on the island with us?

I have another blog that I was going to write, called Man with Spear, that would be an all-Jerry blog, because frankly, his interests are a bit more exciting than homeschooling, homemaking, and recipes.  

But I'm lazy, busy, or a combination of both, so despite a cool blog name, I think I will be blogging mostly on this site.  

That being said, all of Jerry's shenanigans will be posted here, which is ironic really, because he doesn't wear sunscreen.  (Don't yell at me.  I nag encourage him to wear it, but I'm not always successful.  YOU try and get that man to do something he doesn't want to do.)


If you know Jerry at all, you'll know that he's not much for sitting and doing nothing, unless there is a game/race on, or he's sitting at the computer.  Beach sitting? 

Nope.  I'm a beach loner, hanging out with the kids while he's face down in the water hunting. 

But we don't go to the beach every day.  What else do we do that Jerry enjoys?


Blue Wave Boating

Step 1:  Gather up a million things, hook up the boat, and find a decent barely usable boat ramp.  

Step 2:  Try to block out the sounds of the locals swearing the "F" word at each other across the bay by closing the truck windows, turning on the radio, and/or singing annoying songs like "Let it Go" at full volume. 

Step 3:  Launch the boat, park the truck, and head off into the wild hopefully perfectly calm blue. 

Step 4:  Cruise around until you find an interesting cluster of rocks that look exactly like all of the other clusters of rocks along the cliff wall.

Step 5:  Put on the equipment:  Mask, snorkel, fins, weight belt, Hawaiian sling, and spear.  Then get the kids to put on their equipment:  Mask, snorkel, fins, pole spear.  Forget to put anti-fog in your mask so take off equipment, put on anti-fog, and then put your equipment back on.

Step 6:  Flop out of the boat into the water and swim around the interesting rocks.  (Mom:  Stay in the boat, keeping up with the hunters as they drift along, watching carefully for sharks while the daring husband and fearless children collect dinner.)

Step 7:  (Hopefully) shoot a bunch of edible swimming things.  Put them in the boat.

Step 8:  Line up the catch on Jerry's custom tailgate cutting board for the obligatory fish line-up photo.

Step 9:  Fillet the fish while the kids squeal and scream and poke the eyeballs of the poor, dead dinner fish.  Swipe away 56,797 flies per square inch and be so insanely thankful that we are not from a Sub-Saharan tribe where flies live permanently on our faces and tear ducts.

Step 10:  Bring in the goodies and bake/fry/boil them up for dinner.  

Step 11:  Eat and enjoy!

Step 12:  Wait for Jerry's skin to recover from sunburn for a day or two and then repeat steps.  

This is our new favorite restaurant; the all-you-can-catch-to-eat seafood buffet.