Archive for May, 2012

This Week’s Happenings 5/7-5/20

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

We went on a walk last weekend to try and collect some firewood for our fire pit.  We weren’t very lucky with the wood, but Mikayla did find some rocks and decided that she wanted to paint them.  So on Monday I got out the paint and let her go to town.  She had so much fun.  Then we took them outside and she would "hide" them in the dirt and we would dig them up like a treasure.  Speaking of treasure, she has been having a lot of fun the last two weeks walking around the mission looking for "treasures".

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Last week two visitors from the states arrived, Ted and Von.  They are friends of Cabrini from the Chicago area and came to help out where they could.  Ted was here for a week, but Von gets to stay until the end of the month.  We had them over for dinner a couple of nights last week, including a Mexican themed dinner with fish tacos and black beans!  On Sunday the boys decided to host an Asian cook off for Mother’s Day dinner.  In the end, everyone contributed a little something and it was delicious.  We were all royally stuffed by the end of the evening!  The menu consisted of Spring Rolls (Beth), Thai Coconut Curry soup (Ben), Fried Rice (Von), Tandoori Impala (Ted), Thai Grilled Chicken (Ted) and Korean BBQ pork belly lettuce wraps (Joe).  The sisters contributed doing the dishes, which we were all thankful for because there were a lot! 

On Monday I drove Ted into town to do a little souvenir shopping and drop him off at the airport.  We had a fun day chatting, shopping and hanging out.  And I was really proud of myself because it was my first solo trip to town and back.  I think I did pretty well!

Last week was a hard week for the Cabrini family.  One of our former staff members (who had only left two weeks ago), lost her two children (both around Mikayla’s age) when they drowned in the canal.  The funeral was on Sunday so we spent our morning there.  It was such a tragedy and hit everyone really hard.  Ben wrote about it on his blog and his words speak well to my thoughts on it.  You can read his post here.

When we first arrived in Swaziland, Glenn Cheney was here.  He is an author who was doing research for a book he was writing.  His book was recently published on Kindle, Nook and IPad.  It is called Love and Death in the Kingdom of Swaziland and gives a little insight to what life is like here.  There is even a snapshot of Mikayla and the twins in it!  You should check it out here!

We received word this evening that one of our night watchmen, Matthew passed away today.  He has been sick for awhile, but it is still tough.  Too many losses in such a short time here.  Mikayla really liked Matthew and would often watch him cut grass or spend the evening "chatting" with him.  We will surely miss Matthew.

With all that being said we have had a lot of ups and downs in the last two weeks.  Here’s to hoping that the next week is filled with more ups than it is downs…

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Posted in Life |

Toddler School–Letter N

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

We have spent the last two weeks working on the Letter N.  We have been off and on with school, but trying to integrate it into our play more the last two weeks.  Here are a few of the activities that we sat down to complete together.

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We made a hat out of a newspaper.  She got a little confused though because she kept thinking that hat started with N and not newspaper!

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So we cut up some newspaper into squares and then glued onto the letter N to help reinforce this.

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We found some nests in some trees and made a letter N nest.  Then we took her number stickers and stuck on the letter N.  I also tried to get her to identify which number was which, but she wasn’t a big fan of this game!

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We read and talked about the story of Noah and the Ark, then made our own ark out of paper plates.  We painted (she painted the ark and I did the rainbow) and then cut the ark plate in half and stapled on top.  Then we looked through magazines for pictures of animals and cut them out to stick in our ark.  There weren’t two of every animal, but she still got the idea I think.

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For her birthday Sister Barbara and Sister Diane got her a really cool wooden ark and animal set, so we played with it a lot this week!  Such a fun gift and I love how it worked into our learning time the last two weeks!

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We painted with noodles too!  At first it started out really clean and she just dipped the noodles onto the paint and gently placed them on her paper…

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But then it got a a little messy when she decided she needed paint directly in the noodles and squished them all up together!

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What true artist can’t multi-task.  Here she is eating her noodles and painting with them at the same time!  Too funny!

We move onto the Letter O next.  I am excited about learning all about owls and octopus!

Posted in Parenting |

A Mickey Themed 3rd Birthday

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Yesterday evening we celebrated Mikayla’s third birthday with some friends here on the mission by going all out Mickey!  Here is a picture recap of the details from the party.

The Invitations

Although we were inviting mostly people right next door, I still wanted to create some invitations and couldn’t pass up these cuties.

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The Decorations

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These were made from Styrofoam balls painted black and then glued to make a Mickey head.  I also painted her initials on them because I had three.

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Mickey head plates and party hats.  I hot glued two small black plates to a larger one. They weren’t very sturdy, but were cute!  The party hats were made from white cardstock (I would have used red if I had it) and then I glued on two circles for the ears, attached a string and was finished.  I added a little red polka dot bow to the cups to add a little color to the table.

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The door sign – it is no Lara Mattingly banner, but it worked okay! I  replaced the "a’s" and dots on the "i’s" with Mickey heads.

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She was excited about her party!  This shirt was made by Emily Gilliland to raise funds for her adoption (you can have one too, check out her blog for details).

The food

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Yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting.  We also dipped Oreos and another round cookie in chocolate to make Mickey heads.

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Close up of the chocolate dipped Mickey heads.

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Minnie’s lavender cocktail courtesy of Joe.  So pretty and tasty too!

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We had a Hot Diggity Dog Hot Dog bar.  Complete with homemade hot dog buns, mustard, ketchup, onions, jalapenos, cheese and chili. 

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Goofy’s Garden Veggie with guacamole and Minnie’s Mac and Cheese.

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Chip and Dale Chips and Dip

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Pluto’s Potato Salad

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Pete’s Punch, which was really just homemade lemonade made from lemons straight off the tree!

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Party favors were homemade caramel corn in Mickey bags.

The Guests

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Guest of honor grabbing a quick snack before dinner started.

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Sister Diane

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Sister Barbara
(Joe was here too but I don’t have a solo picture of him or me!)

The Games

We had two games.  The first was to see how many words you could make out of the letters in "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse".  Sister Barbara is a Scrabble fanatic so she blew everyone else out of the water!  We also had a drawing contest to see who could draw the best character from the show.  Mikayla was the judge.

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Hard at work making some words.

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Look at that concentrations!

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Mikayla even joined in on the fun and wrote some letters.

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Judging the drawing contest.

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She chose Joe’s drawing and he was really excited about it!

Some party Snapshots

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Enjoying her Mickey cupcake!

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During present time she would open the gift and then run over to Joe and put it on his lap.  By the time she was finished his lap was piled high with gifts.  Then of course she went back over and studied each one individually!

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She got lots of clothes from Mimi and Poppy so she played a little dress up game.  This is the outfit she ended the day in!

I think everyone enjoyed themselves and most importantly Mikayla had a blast!  It is still hard to believe that she is three!  Thanks to everyone who came out to the party, sent presents or called to wish her a Happy Birthday.  It was a great week of celebrating!


This Week’s Happenings 4/29-5/6

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

I didn’t do a This Week’s Happenings last week because our week was filled mainly with Mikayla’s birthday activities which I posted about here and here.  This week has proven to be very busy with out of country visitors and birthday party preparations.  We also spent a lot of time playing with birthday gifts she had already received.

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She got into the stamp pad without us looking!  See that big thing of stickers there…it is already halfway gone!

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Playing her version of Candy Land – the gingerbread men characters visit the different "candy stores" and eat all the candy!

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This was a craft sent from her aunts and uncles and cousins.  She has named it Aunt Christa and plays with it like it is a doll.

On Monday evening two people from Switzerland arrived to visit Cabrini for a couple of days.  We hosted them, along with several other staff members for dinner on Monday night and breakfast on Tuesday morning.  For dinner we had lasagna, spaghetti, salad, homemade bread and a Snickerdoodle cake for dessert.  After spending the majority of the day prepping for dinner I was exhausted after our guests left.  Then we got up the next day and made a fabulous breakfast of fresh squeezed OJ, eggs, bacon (both grilled and fried), fried potatoes and more fresh bread!  It was delicious but we were so full we couldn’t find it in ourselves to eat much for lunch or dinner!  The best part about our guests (at least for Mikayla the best part) was that the girl’s name was Michaela!  She thought it was really silly to say her name for someone else!

We have converted Joe to being a Settlers of Catan player, so we had a fun evening of Settlers after Mikayla went to bed on Friday.  I won of course, which made the evening even more enjoyable!

We have officially entered "winter" here, but it didn’t feel much like it!  It warmed back up again this week after a quick cold spell last week so we spent some time in Mikayla’s swimming pool playing.  We played with both princess dolls and her tea set.  And she spent a lot of time riding her rocking horse swing, despite the heat.  She also spent some time playing in the mango tree with her Super Mikayla cape (thanks Cat, Dave and Molly) trying to save Flounder who was supposedly at the top of the tree!  Her imagination never ceases to amaze me.

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Where is Flounder, Super Mikayla?

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Tea party in the swimming pool…doesn’t get much better than this!

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At night when it cools off some Mikayla enjoys sitting and staring at stuff on her rocking horse swing.  I think it is really precious.

On Saturday we had Mikayla’s Mickey themed birthday party, more on that later.

But most exciting news of the week is that we bought plane tickets to head back to the US for a visit from August 19-September 24.  Plans while we are there are still up in the air and Ben will be working for most of that, but we were excited to get the tickets out of the way!   We will keep you posted of details as the time gets closer (and we have them of course)!


How to Make a Mud Pie

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

It is still warm here during the day, but at night time it has started to cool off some.  So, we have been spending lots of time in the evenings outside playing, reading and enjoying the coolness!  This week I introduced Mikayla to mud pies.  I can’t believe I hadn’t done this yet, it is such a favorite childhood memory of mine.  Sitting in the corner of our yard making mud pies with my sister and "selling" them over the fence!  In case you have forgotten how or have never made a mud pie before, here are some step by step directions.

Step 1 – Gather your supplies.  You will need dirt, water, a pail or bowl to mix in and a pan to use as your pie pan.

Step 2 – Gather some dirt (or sand) and mix in some water.

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Step 3 – Pour into pie pan (or other container you deem as your pie pan).

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Step 4 – Add "berries" or extras to your pie if you want (i.e. rocks, leaves, stems, grass, pretty much anything you can find outside).

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Mikayla kept calling this her cherry mud pie!

Step 5 – Enjoy and repeat!

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She had a lot of fun, although I must say she wasn’t a fan of actually touching the mud with her fingers.  If she got mud on them, she wanted to immediately wipe it off.  We are working on that though!f  If you have kids and you haven’t made a mud pie with them yet, I suggest you go out and do it today!  So much fun and great for the imagination!

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Posted in Parenting |

Then and Now–Giraffe Shots

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

When Mikayla was a baby we took a picture next to a green giraffe (which has now been named Gertrude) and have continued to do so periodically throughout her life.  Here are some growth shots to see how much she has changed in the last three years!

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Year One

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Year 2

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Year 3

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And just for reference here is a picture of her growth chart.

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Ben’s finger is showing how tall she was when we got to Africa and the banana leaves above the three are how tall she is now.  She has grown almost three inches since July!  Crazy!

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Posted in Parenting |

Mikayla’s 3rd Birthday

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Saturday was Mikayla’s third birthday and in honor of the big day we spent time doing things she loves.  Like eating donuts, opening presents and going to the "park and play".  She still has a few more gifts to open, but we are saving those for her big (and by big I mean little) Mickey Mouse Clubhouse birthday celebration this coming Saturday.  Here are some snapshots we got from our day of celebrating!

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Mikayla woke up to find her floor filled with balloons and "streamers" on her door.  We looked all over for streamers and couldn’t find any so I glued some newspapers together and cut them into strips.  Not quite a festive as colored streamers, but she loved them anyway!

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Then we made donuts and of course we had to put sprinkles.  I used this recipe for the  donuts and they were delicious!  Best the day they were made and well worth the effort it required!

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Then she got down to opening her presents.  The first is from us and was a toolbox filled with art supplies.  She loves "crafting" things and so this was a hit. 

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She also opened gifts from her aunts and uncles.  Here you can see her playing with her Candy Land game (thanks Aunt Chelsea and Uncle Tim) in her rocking new Toms (thanks Aunt Christa, Aunt Sarah, Uncle Christopher, Uncle Kris, Tyson, Tanner and Taylor).  There were other games and craft items included in these gifts, but I didn’t get pictures of them all.

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After our donut breakfast and packages we hit up a park about thirty minutes down the road.  She ran and played and had a great time.  After some time at the park we went and grabbed lunch.  While at lunch Mikayla met an older couple (with a granddaughter her age) who she proudly told it was her birthday.  They then called in the owner and told him to go to the store and buy her a birthday cake…which he did!  They ended up inviting us to their house for coffee afterwards.  They had a ton of geese, rabbits, chickens, and dogs that Mikayla got to interact with.  She had so much fun.

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After the park and animals we headed home for a dinner of cheeseburgers and french fries and of course some Funfetti cake! 

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Daddy continued the cake smashing tradition him and our friend Rod always had, but this year Mikayla took the brunt of it. 

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She didn’t seem to mind though, and I helped her to get him back!

We had a great day celebrating with her and she will now proudly tell anyone who listens that she is three!

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Posted in Life, Parenting |

Toddler School–Letter K

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Since we skipped Letter K accidentally, we back tracked and made it up last week.  Here are some of our K activities.

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This is not a K specific activity, but I try to throw in whole alphabet activities whenever I can.  This was originally intended as an interactive letter line to hang on the wall, but I never got around to hanging it so we turned it into a game.  On each clothespin is a sticker of a letter.  She had to match the lettered clothespin to the correct letter card.  Both phonics and fine motor practice in this game.  She loved it so much I think we ended up laying it three times this day!

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We made a letter K king by gluing a king crown on top an then of course she had to have her very own king crown!

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She has really love typing letters lately and has recently asked for me to spell certain words for her to type.  As you can see, her number one is her friend Lylah’s name!

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This is a color by number picture I made of a kite and the sun.  She did great at finding the right number and coloring it, but she still hasn’t caught on to color the whole area and not just the number.

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Letter K kite picture.

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Kite with her last name (which also starts with a K) down the string.

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Kangaroo letter game.  I drew out a kangaroo and cut up different letter cards.  She had to look at the letter cards and fill his pouch with only the letter K.

We also glued kernels of corn onto the letter K, but I didn’t get a picture.  We did some counting with the kernels as well.  We move on to the letter N next since we did M a few months back!

Posted in Parenting |