Archive for April, 2012

A Birthday Countdown Tradition

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

When we first had Mikayla I knew that I wanted to start some sort of tradition surrounding her birthday to make it extra special.  The first two birthdays we did countdown days based on the year she was turning.  Each day she would get a small present or activity to do as a family.  For her first day we did a one day countdown to her birthday and her second birthday a two day countdown.  In theory this year we would have done a three day countdown to her birthday.  But then I got to thinking about future birthdays, when she turned ten we would need to do a ten day countdown and at 18 an 18 day countdown…that seemed a bit daunting!  So, this year I instituted a five day countdown for her birthday and will hopefully continue this in years to come.  Each day she got to open a small "gift" or as she called them "prizes" (that is how she has been saying surprises as of late).  I think she really enjoyed each one, plus it helped her to get really excited about her birthday!  Here are what we did for each day of the countdown.

5 – She got a small notebook and several pages of stickers.  She loves to stick stickers inside a notebook so this was a hit.  Unfortunately, she used most of her stickers that day!

4 – Popcorn and movie night.  Ben said up a projector to project the movie on our living room wall.  We popped a big bowl of popcorn and let her go to town!  She thought it was really neat watching a movie that big and sat really nicely for the whole thing.  I think she might be ready for a real theater experience!

3 – Campfire complete with roasting marshmallows and hotdogs.  Sister Diane walked over during this "event" and Mikayla told her all about what was happening!

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In her bag I put a felt hot dog, a marshmallow and fire made with pipe cleaners.  Here she is "starting a fire" with her pipe cleaner fire.

2 – Felt finger puppets.  I whipped these out during her nap one day.  She hasn’t quite figured out what to do with them and how to put them on, but she plays with them like they are stuffed animals or babies!

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1- Mickey Mouse dress up kit made from a little felt and some hot glue!  This one was placed in a special purse made from our friend Dacia back home.  She is loving some Mickey Mouse lately and so I thought this would be perfect and it was a HIT as was the purse!  Now when she watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse she wants to put on her Mickey outfit.  So cute!  I wonder if she will want to wear it to her Mickey birthday party next week?

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We did lots of fun things on her actual birthday, more to come soon when I am not so tired!

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Posted in Parenting |

Happy 3rd Birthday Mikayla!

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

How is it that three years have passed since I was in the hospital holding my sweet baby girl for the first time?  It has gone by crazy fast, but we have loved every minute of it!  This last year has been filled with a lot of firsts for Mikayla (and us) and a lot of fun new experiences.  Here is a quick picture recap of Mikayla’s third year of life!


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somerset 056

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Messy Eaters 061


Bush Walk 077


Letter D and Nisela 112


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Kruger 085


Letter W, playing in rain and owl 086

Lady and Tramp, Letter P 014


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Letter J 020


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Happy Birthday Mikayla!  I hope your fourth year of life is just as exciting as your third!

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Posted in Life, Parenting |

Toddler School–Letter L

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

This past week we learned all about the Letter L.  After a few days of studying, I realized I completely skipped the Letter K!  Oops!  I guess we will make that one up next week!  Here are some of our L activities.

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We collected leaves and then did some leave rubbings.  She had a hard time with this because she is still not pressing down very hard when she writes.

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Then we painted with leaves!

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She had some leftover paint, so we practiced writing the Letter L using our fingers.

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Handprint lion!

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Bead balancing – I made a mound of clay and stuck an uncooked spaghetti noodle in it and then she slid on the beans.  Great fine motor practice!

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While she was working, I made a lady bug out of the leftover clay.

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A special lion lunch.  I served with a PB sandwich!

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Letter L lion

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Hand and footprint lobster.  I goofed and put her footprint upside down, but you get the idea!

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Ladybug fun.  We made the paper plate lady bug and then rolled dice to see how many spots to put on him.  When we were finished we just glued the spots on.  This would be easy to adapt to addition by rolling a dice for each side, laying the spots on both sides and then counting them all together.  Then we made a Letter L ladybug by coloring an L red and then gluing on spots.

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Since Mikayla’s middle name starts with an L, I decided to work on spelling it this week.  So, I made some letter cards and put them on binder clips upside down and had her put them in order.  We will continue to work on her middle name in weeks to come.

Next week we will move backwards to the letter K, although I am still struggling with activities for this one…

Posted in Parenting |

This Week’s Happenings 4/9-4-22

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

I never got around to posting last week’s happenings because we took a long weekend trip to Nelspruit, South Africa.  I was too busy enjoying some family time, relaxing and seeing some really cool things (more about that in a bit).  The good news is that you will get two weeks worth of Kickert living in one!  Get excited!

After work on Friday we packed up the car and headed to Nelspruit, South Africa.  We visited here at Christmas time and it is a great place to go to get away and enjoy some "western" time.  On Saturday we did some shopping and picked up some goodies.  We of course stocked up on tortilla chips and salsa!  I also found a small craft store inside a store called Mica.  It was beautiful.  It was like going in a miniature Hobby Lobby.  I didn’t get much (besides a few supplies for Mikayla’s Mickey Mouse Birthday Party coming up in a few weeks), but it is nice to know that it is there.  Now I can start thinking crafts again and actually have somewhere to pick up the supplies.

On Sunday we loaded up the car and headed to Blyde River Canyon, which is about an hour away.  We experienced some of the most beautiful scenery we had ever seen.  The pictures don’t do it justice (you can see Ben’s full album here), but if you ever find yourself in South Africa, you should check it out.  We basically drove around and stopped at different viewpoints.  Some of the viewpoints you had to walk to (although not very far) and others were right beside the car.  Amazing!

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Obligatory tree pictures!  I am always on the lookout for good trees to snap some pictures in.  I LOVE this picture of Mikayla!  She is such a ham sometimes!

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We saw several waterfalls on this trip, but this one was my favorite! 

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Skipping rocks with daddy!

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And of course, what would a Kickert family trip be without Ben being a little goofy!

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Another Adkins Family Tree shot. 

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We want to go camping down by this lake.

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Another amazing waterfall!

On Monday we laid low and did a bit more shopping.  We had planned to take Mikayla swimming, but it was windy which made it a little too cool for swimming.  She did go "swimming" in the bathtub that evening though!  On Tuesday Ben got up and did a little repair work on the vehicle, then we packed the car and headed back to Kruger National Park.  At first we didn’t see much of anything besides impala and a couple of elephants way off in the distance.  We were getting a little discouraged and then out of the corner of my eyes I saw these guys.

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That’s right folks, we have two cheetahs.  Beautiful creatures and we were so close to them.  When we saw them, we immediately turned around and "stalked" them for a bit.  There were times when we were less than ten feet from them.  One of the best animal sightings we have seen to date.  Here are some more shots of the cheetahs (forgive us we took a lot) and some other animals we spotted.  (More pictures can be found here).

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Some more impala, these guys are seriously everywhere in the park!

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We saw lots of these guys flying around too.

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These are the first hippos we have seen out of water.  Of course it was from a distance, so it is hard to tell what they are.

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I think this guys lashes were beautiful.  We watched him eating for a bit and Mikayla kept calling him Horton!

The weather is starting to cool off a little at night time so we decided that we should build a fire pit in the back yard this week.  The other night we got out our new camp chairs (even Mikayla has one) and sat around the new fire pit enjoying some chili.  Felt a little like a fall evening!

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Doesn’t Mikayla look so grown up in her "Junior" Camp chair?  Please ignore Ben’s combination of shorts, dress socks and hiking boots.

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This stubborn goat ended up on our porch one afternoon and we couldn’t get rid of him.  He fell on the porch at one time and because of the wax couldn’t get up and was stuck on his side for several minutes.  He was scared of the dogs, so he just froze.  Ben tried to chase him off with a broom, but we eventually had to pull him by the horns.  Unfortunately, I think the dogs got the better of him because we found him dead outside the fence in the morning.

I also managed to do a little baking and cooking in the last few weeks.  I made some pretty tasty chocolate chip cookie bars one day.  I really wanted cookies, but didn’t want to invest the time in making them, so I made bars instead.  The next best thing!  While in Nelspruit I found some recipes I want to try in the next few weeks.

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This is the Piña Colada Cake I mentioned making for Easter dinner.  It was good, but not my favorite dessert.  If I make it again I will make a lot of changes and alterations to enhance the flavor.

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For part of my birthday Rita made me this fabulous bowl.  She mentioned she uses one similar to it for making bread, so I gave it a go.  Look how pretty it is!  I would love to try it as a Deep Dish Chicken Pot Pie.


DIY Felt Wallet

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Mikayla LOVES to get into her daddy’s wallet and play with his money and credit cards.  She takes them all out and scatters them all over the floor.  So, the other day when Ben suggested we make her a wallet of her own out of felt, I jumped on it.  After all, who doesn’t love a good felt creation!  It isn’t exactly like a real wallet, but she loves it.  Especially after daddy gave her a "credit card" (old Southwest Airline card) and a real US dollar.  She goes shopping all the time and when she uses the credit card she even likes to sign her "name". 

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I simply hot glued down the sides, added some Velcro to the yellow strip so it would "snap" shut, embellished with the flower and Voila!  A DIY felt wallet in less than ten minutes!  Of course you could make it sturdier with the use of the sewing machine or larger with more pockets, but she didn’t seem to mind!

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This Week’s Happenings 4/2-4/8

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Happy Easter weekend everyone.  We hope you have a relaxing and joyful day of celebration!

This week I embarked on my bread making journey. For my birthday Ben’s parents gave me some Amazon money and I decided to use part of it to purchase a bread cookbook.  I decided on Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  The bases behind the book is that you mix up a bread starter and leave it in the fridge (similar to sourdough starters).  When you want bread you take it out of the fridge, shape it according to the type of bread, let it rise and bake.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!  And tasty too.  I made a couple of Boules, ciabatta, and regular sandwich loaf bread.  There are lots of variations in the book and I can’t wait to try some of them out!  The only tricky part is that it calls for supplies we don’t have and for two racks in the oven (which we also don’t have).  So far we have managed and the bread has turned out delicious (even if we have to cook it for double the amount of time called for)!

One of Ben and mine’s favorite Easter treats is Reece’s Peanut Butter Eggs.  Unfortunately, you can’t find them here in Swaziland.  So when I saw a recipe for homemade Reece’s eggs on this blog, I thought I would give it a try.  And while they weren’t exactly the same, they were still tasty.  I made them a little large this go around, so next time I will make them a little bit smaller.  They were pretty rich!  Mikayla even jumped in on the action and enjoyed herself a little peanut butter!

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Easter school 009

Because of Easter weekend, Ben had a four day weekend.  So Friday we enjoyed a relaxing day at home as a family.  We hung out and were super lazy!  So lazy in fact that I think Mikayla got a little bored!  Amidst our laziness we managed to squeeze in a game of disc golf and a nice Thai dinner cooked by Ben.  We don’t exactly have a disc golf course, but we make up our own when we play.  For example, shoot to the post near the soccer field!

On Saturday we woke up early to go to the grocery store.  One the way in we stopped at a Country Club for Mikayla to play at their playground.  It is one of the best playgrounds in Swaziland and is the closest one to our house (thirty minutes away).  She had so much fun running from play area to play area.

Today is Easter Sunday and we once again plan to lay low and hang out at the house.  Tonight we are having Joe over for some Easter steaks on the grill.  I am also going to make a loaf of bread and a Pina Colada Cake (I will keep you posted on how it tastes).

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Posted in Life |

Toddler School–Easter Edition

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

We had a pretty rough week at Toddler school last week, so I decided to take it easy this week.  We finished up a couple of our J activities and through in some Easter activities for fun.  Here are a couple of highlights from our week.

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Painting an Easter bunny with a marshmallow.  She thought it was pretty silly to paint with a marshmallow!

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Matching jar lids to the correct jar and screwing them on.  She did amazing at this!  Her fine motor skills have definitely improved since we started this journey in September!

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Easter Egg Memory.  I made six matching Easter egg cards and she played memory trying to find the correct match.  When she found the right match she placed them in her bunny basket we made (sorry, didn’t get a good picture of that one).

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Then she decided that she wanted to use the eggs to go on an Easter egg hunt.  Sometimes her impromptu games end up better than my planned ones!  She hid the eggs herself and then found them all over and over again!

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I taped some popsicle sticks in the shape of a cross on a piece of cardstock and then let her paint around them with sponges.  When we took the popsicle sticks off it revealed a special cross.  We spent some time during this craft talking about the Easter story and why it is so important!

We did some more activities this week, but can’t remember them at the moment!  Ben was home on Friday so we had another short week of school!

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Mikayla’s Funny Statements

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Have I mentioned on here before how funny my child can be?  Seriously, sometimes she says things and I wonder where she gets them.  Here are some of her recent "funny" statements that she says regularly.

"I’m sorry…I forgive you" – From the time she could start talking we encouraged her to apologize and ask for forgiveness when she had done something wrong.  Somehow it has turned into the above statement where she says she is sorry and then that she forgives you instead of asking for forgiveness!

"My Jie-Nuh" – We had a friend in Bowling Green who worked with sexual abuse victims and she always told us we should use the correct wording for private parts in case they were ever sexually abused it would hold up in court.  This is what Mikayla calls hers.

"Actually" – You have to hear her say this one because she enunciates it so well.  She will say this if she thinks we are wrong (Actually mommy…) or if she doesn’t want to do something (Actually we are going to…).  The word itself isn’t that funny, but the way she says it is!

"Oh Toodles and Super Cheers" – This has stemmed from her love of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (which is what we have decided to theme her third birthday party in case you were wondering).  She goes around saying them all the time.  Even at meal time sometimes she will have has clink our food together and say super cheers.

"Excused by the table" – She uses this one when she wants to get up from the table.  It is supposed to be "Excused from the table". 

"I-an-a-de-a" (idea) – This one is perhaps my favorite.  She gets so excited when she says this one.  This comes up when we ask her what we should do and she responds with "I’ve got an ianadea!".

"Humping" (hunting) – I am not sure how this one came about, but she says this often when we are outside and she wants to look for something.  I will ask her what she is doing and she will respond with "I am humping for leaves".

"Park and Play" – Ben says this is his favorite Mikayla statement.  If we are driving down the road and she sees a playground she will scream ‘There’s a park and play".  It seemed like an odd thing to call it until we realized we often asker her if she want to go to the park and play She now thinks that is what they are called!  Friends that ride into town with us comment on it every time she says it when we pass parks.  So funny.

"Boing-A-Hop" – I think she got this one from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but when she wants to jump (particularly on our bed) she says, "Let’s go Boing-A-Hop".  So cute!

"Sometimes, but not two times" – If you ask Mikayla a question (i.e. Do you like this?) she will respond with "Sometimes, but not two times".  I think what she means is that she likes it sometimes, but not all of the time.  Still, her choice of wording is funny to me!

I really wanted to include a funny picture of Mikayla here but couldn’t find one I liked, so I am leaving it picture less!

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Posted in Parenting |

Toddler School–Letter J

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Mikayla got a stomach bug this week, so Toddler School was hit or miss.  We completed several activities at the beginning of the week, but the end of the week was a different story.  She liked learning about the Letter J, but I think mostly because she got to eat jelly beans!

Letter J 005

She practiced coloring and staying in the lines by coloring some color coded jelly beans.  She did pretty good with this.  As you can see we are still working on correct gripping of pencils and crayons.  She hates holding them the right way!

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We sorted jelly beans by colors.

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Then we graphed them.  First I had her lay them beside the right color, one per square.  Then we took one off at a time and colored that square the correct color.  Then of course we had to eat one of each color.

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I taught her the Nursery Rhyme Jack and Jill.  She loved this!  I drew them onto toilet paper tubes (please don’t judge my artistic abilities) and then she colored them.  We used them as we recited the Nursery Rhyme.  She took these guys with us everywhere we went for the rest of the week.  We also used Jack to act out Jack and the Candlestick.

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We also practiced fetching a pail of water.

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Then we poured the water into the pan.

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We made a jelly fish by cutting a paper plate in half, coloring it and tying ribbon as the tentacles. 

I had also planned on doing some more jelly fish stuff, jar activities and Jack and the Beanstalk, but whens he got sick we didn’t get to most of them.  I may try to throw them in next week, but we will see.  I also think I will try and do some Easter activities next week, along with our next letter.  Anyone have any good suggestions for fun activities?

Posted in Life |

This Week’s Happenings 3/26-4/1

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

It is so hard for me to believe that Easter is one weekend away.  Anybody doing any fun Easter activities or crafts?  Where has the time gone?

Ben got home last Saturday, so we enjoyed lots of time with him over the weekend and then throughout the week.  It was nice to have him home again.  I think Mikayla enjoyed her daddy time this week as well.

He brought back lots of goodies from the states so we played with those and even ate some too!  He was even able to snag a box of our two favorite Girl Scout cookies (Tagalongs and Thin Mints) so we enjoyed those as well.

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Enjoying a Girl Scout cookie daddy brought home!

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Sporting her new apron from her Great Aunt Ellen…thanks, she loves it and the goodies that were inside!

On Thursday, Mikayla and I headed into town with some other staff members to pick up my driver’s license (and some other errands for others).  I am now an official Swazi driver!  More than I can say for Ben!  Unfortunately, on the way in Mikayla got sick.  She threw up several times and was very lethargic and sleepy for the rest of the day.  The unfortunate thing about our situation was we were two hours from home and with other people so we couldn’t exactly turn around and head back.  She was a trooper though and curled up on my lap for most of the day sleeping.  By the time we got home she had a temperature of 103.6!  It dropped quickly as soon as we got some Tylenol into her system.  The next couple of days were filled with lots of time on the toilet and very restless nights.  Needless to say, we all took a day of rest on Sunday!  I am thankful to say she is on the mend and was feeling back to her regular self today!

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A silly Mikayla face…love this picture though!

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I have mentioned Joe a couple of times, but haven’t posted a picture of him yet.  Here he is showing Ben a bottle of Chicago Bourbon he found at a store in town.

Ben and I plan on getting up at 3 am to watch the National Championship Basketball game.  It will make for a sleepy day tomorrow, but hopefully it will be well worth our time investment!

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Posted in Life |