Archive for January, 2014

My Pops

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014


I think this picture says it all.  Pops with a smile
on his face while hanging out with his family.

My pops, my dad’s dad was a great man!  He was always full of laughter and fun.  He was also quite the jokester.   The world lost a wonderful man when he passed away this morning.

A few years ago he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a terrible disease, that took him away from us mentally before he was physically gone.  I have had time over the last few years to reflect on his life and what a wonderful man he truly was.

I wanted to share some of the great and funny things he would do with his grandkids to show them how much he cared.

When I was a kid my siblings and I would often head to his house for weeks at a time in the summer to hang out.  In the back of his house, both in North Carolina and Kentucky he had a small wooded section.  We would play back there and collect firewood for camp fires.  Many summer evenings were filled with sitting around the fire.  He also always had a garden.  I remember how he would go to the garden and pick green onions and munch on them while harvesting the rest of the veggies. 


I have been very fortunate to spend time with both sets of grandparents in my life as well as most of great grandparents.

When you would yawn and he was nearby, he would immediately stick his finger in your mouth!  A terrible trick, but so funny at the same time.

If he was sitting next to you during a meal he would ask if you had ever played motorboat.  Then he would proceed to stick his finger in your food, wiggle it around and say motorboat, motorboat, motorboat!

He would often grab your nose and ask, "Want that any longer?" If you answered yes, he would respond with, "how long?" and pull your nose.  If you answered no, he would respond with, "well then I will take it" and pull your nose.  It was a lose, lose situation for you and a win, win situation for him.

A classic riddle he would do was the two birds named Pete and Repeat.  It went like this:  There were two birds sitting on a fence, one named Pete and the other Repeat.  Pete flew away, so who was left.  We would immediately say repeat, at which point he would start from the beginning.  It was an endless cycle!

Pops was always finding money.  Everywhere we went he was looking on the ground and in machines (pay phones, quarter candy machines, vending machines, etc).  And it never failed, he always found something.

Pops taught me everything I know about people watching.  He could sit and watch folks for hours!

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Saying goodbye to Pops before our big move to Africa.

Playing school was another of his favorite games.  This is a hard one to describe in writing, but I will try.  He would have you fold your hands together and then complete various "school" tasks.  Such as, spelling, math and even music.  When it came time for music he would squeeze your hands hard and when you yelled he said it was singing!

My Pops always worked at the newspaper.  I remember many days making the trip to the office with him to see how things operated!

If you haven’t noticed I love to take tree pics with my kiddos, this is yet another thing I get from my Pops (in combination with my Grandma of course)! 

My pops was a wonderful man and these are just a few of the many things he did to make his children and grandchildren smile!

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Pops with his great granddaughter, Mikayla. 
He loved all his grandkids and great grandkids.

Posted in Life |

Max’s Six Month Update

Monday, January 6th, 2014

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Happy half birthday little boy!  It is hard to believe that six months ago Max joined our family.  He has added so much (and taken away a little sleep 😉 ) to our family.  Here is what he is up to these days.

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Max has become an independent sitter. He still occasionally topples over, but for the most part he is sitting up firmly on his own.  He loves to sit in the middle of his toys and play and throw them across the floor.

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Max adores his sister.  Seriously, he lights up whenever she is near.  She is also one of the few people that can get a belly laugh out of Max.  Mikayla can do this simplest thing, like blow raspberries at him and he is rolling!  It is so precious.  And everyone comments on how much he loves her.

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Max has started to show a little separation anxiety from me.  If he is handed off to someone other than Ben when I am in the room he looks around for me and will often cry and lunge his body towards me.  I guess this is what happens when you spend 24/7 with a baby!


Max is also still rolling all over the floor and can pretty much get wherever he wants to at a pretty quick speed by doing so.  He isn’t crawling yet, but he arms and legs are pretty strong so I would say it wouldn’t be long before this happens.

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Speaking of strong legs, Max has some serious strength.  He loves standing up when supported by your hands.  He has also started grabbing your hands and pushing up on his own.  I wouldn’t call it "pulling up yet", but that is mostly because he doesn’t have the control of his legs yet.  He definitely has the strength, but he can’t quite figure out how to maneuver his legs in the directions he wants them to go.

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We started Max on solid foods at the beginning of this month.  It was a little early (we didn’t start Mikayla until after six months), but he was nursing so frequently and so active we felt that he was hungry and ready for it.  We were right too.  He took to eating solids very quickly, like a matter of days.  And now whenever he sees a spoon he starts opening his mouth like he wants to eat.  It is so funny.  So far he has had avocado (big fan), banana and butternut squash.  We have also snuck him a few bites of potatoes, hummus, and mango.  Right now he is only getting one meal a day, but he seems to love it!

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Sleep still proves to be an issue with this boy.  He just doesn’t seem to like to sleep, no matter how tired he is!  He is still very much a cat napper and waking up frequently during the night.  He will typically take a nap in the morning and one in the afternoon and maybe a quick one around dinner time.  But none of the times are consistent and lengths vary!  I am not  a super schedule oriented person, but it would be nice to have a little more structure to his sleeping schedules so I can plan the day accordingly!


Max takes comfort in you standing and walking with him.  If you are sitting with him he cries, but as soon as you stand up he is A OK!  It is only a little annoying 😉 !

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Max is also still chatty.  He loves to make noises and of course laugh and coo.  He has also started to blow bubbles on a more frequent basis.  Daddy also gave him a small hair trim this month too.

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Max took his first trip out of Swaziland this month when we went to South Africa for a mini vacation before Christmas.  He also celebrated his first Christmas (he was not very impressed)! 

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Posted in Parenting |

2013 Year in Review

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

We had a big year in 2013 and 2014 is looking to be just as busy and promising!  Here is a quick recap of what our year looked like.


We spent a lot of our January hanging as a family of three, growing a baby and playing with some awesome Christmas toys.  Mikayla played princess soccer quite a bit this month.LOW 6 and 7 and spider 012


February marked our first official visitors with a visit from Ben’s cousin Jana and her friend Olivia.  We had a blast showing them around our neck of the woods and prepping for our March visitors (Ben’s parents).  I also celebrated the big 30!

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Ben took a trip to Ethiopia for work and Mikayla and I hung back at St. Philips.  We had fun learning about Dr. Seuss and prepping some more for Ben’s parents.  We spent a couple of weeks hosting his parents and showing them around Swaziland and South Africa.  We also had a pig roast in honor of Sr. Diane’s birthday (70), my birthday (30) and Mikayla’s birthday (4).  We even threw in a princess theme for Mikayla!

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In April we dyed Easter eggs with some friends and went on a hunt around the yard with the eggs.  We also celebrated a very special girls fourth birthday.  Since we had her party when Ben’s parents were here we just had a mini celebration at the house.  She was very excited about her big present which was her first bike!

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In May we worked on making the final preparations for Baby Kickert.  Mikayla also got creative in the kitchen and made a very special birthday cake for her daddy who turned 31 this year.

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June was pretty quiet and I was pretty large!  We laid low this month and did a lot of creative play at the house.  You can see Mikayla hanging out in the laundry baskets pretending to be a animals in a cage!  That girl has some serious imagination!!  We spent this month anticipating and guessing when Baby Kickert would make his grand debut.

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This was probably the biggest month for us as a family as we welcomed Maxwell Simo Kickert into the world on July 4!  Mikayla was so excited to be a big sister.

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We didn’t do much of anything in August except snuggle with our kiddos and try to get some sleep here and there between feeding and wake cycles!  It went by so fast and so slow all at the same time.

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We took Max on his first hike up Execution Rock this month.  He slept most of the time so not sure how impressed he was.  Mikayla continue to amaze us with her ability to hike to the top and bottom all by herself.  She is getting so big!!  Speaking of Mikayla, she also started her second year of preschool at home this month.  It took us awhile to get back in the school routine once Max was born.  Mikayla, Max and I took advantage of a holiday with Katie, Bravo and his boys and took a walk to the river for a picnic one day.  Everyone had a blast.

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Mikayla practiced her photography skills this month by shooting some pictures of her brother and taking a special walk with daddy to take pictures in the bush.  We also busted out the pool because we had some hot spells.  Max was not so impressed with the pool!  And of course there were lots of snuggle sessions with Max!

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We hosted another Thanksgiving meal with some of the Cabrini staff members.  This year we had maintenance and transportation staff over for the big holiday.  The picture below was the highlight of my day.  Fodo, a maintenance staff member, took Max and was really engaging with him. This is unusual for a Swazi man to take interest in a young child.  Typically, the father won’t really look at the baby until they are around six months old.  So this was huge!!

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We took a family vacation, with Katie in tow, to Nelspruit for a week.  We spent the week eating lots of food, shopping and enjoying some time away from work.  And of course, we had a great Christmas.  We spent this year at our house, which was a bit unusual for us!  Typically we are away or traveling during Christmas day.  We also had another pig roast on Christmas Eve which was a lot of fun. 

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There you have it folks, a quick look back at our year!  Like I said earlier, it was a busy one! 

Posted in Life |

Christmas Pic

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

Here are some of my favorite pictures from our Christmas at home, including our annual family photo shoot (we were very tired so we didn’t take as many pictures  as we usually do)!

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Posted in Life, Parenting |

December Update

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

December went by in a blur, partly because I think we stayed so busy! 

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Ben won the daddy of the year award when he played in the rain with Mikayla this month. She had so much fun getting messy with her daddy.

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I spent the first week or two prepping for camp and helping out with it while Ben finished up last minute reports and end of the year work stuff.  Max even made his debut as baby Jesus during the camp play.  He was not so thrilled about this and cried through the whole thing!  After the staff Christmas party we hit the road for a week of fun and relaxation in Nelspruit.

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Decorating sugar cookies at camp.  Both students and staff had a blast with this!!

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Simo and Simo hanging out at the Christmas party

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Max as baby Jesus

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Jabu and Max

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Max hanging out with Bravo

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Max hanging around while we decorated the Christmas tree.

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Max "placing an ornament on the tree".

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Hanging with Katie and Max at the Christmas party.

We spent a few days just the four of us hanging out in Nelspruit eating junk food, shopping and not cooking!  We actually went to the grocery our first day and spent over $100 bucks on junk food and candy.  Totally spoiling ourselves.  Then Katie joined us and we continued the trend.  We ate at some really fancy and yummy restaurants like Orange and Saffron.  You can read an article about both of them here.  We were also able to start and finish all of our Christmas shopping (nothing like a little last minute shopping)!  And of course we took a couple trips to Kruger National Park to "see the animals".  I am hoping to post some of those pictures soon.  Mikayla and Ben even hit up a water park that is in Nelspruit one afternoon while Katie and I shopped.  She had so much fun and that was all she could talk about that evening.  Ben said she was really brave and went down the big slides all by herself.  That kid never ceases to amaze me! 

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Sibling bath time fun!

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Don’t you wish you were this flexible?

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Max wasn’t sure what to think about the rhinos at Kruger.

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Family photo time!

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Max’s first dip in the pool.  He was not a big fan, but to be fair the water was freezing!

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Mikayla loves jumping in the pool!

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On the 22nd we headed back to our house to start prepping for our Christmas festivities.  I spent the 23rd making the annual batch of cinnamon rolls and even made a gluten free batch for Katie.  I also cleaned the house because over the next few days we would have a houseful!  Ben had some friends come in that evening, Chris and Kara, and they stayed through the 26th.  There were also a few other random visitors hanging around the mission that joined us over the next few days.

On the 24th we had a pig roast to celebrate Christmas Eve.  It was a hot day, not sure I will ever get used to it being hot over Christmas.  We had a lovely time and invited pretty much anyone who was still around the mission for the Christmas season.  I think we had between 15-20 folks over for lunch/dinner that day.  Plus I think of all the pig roasts we have had, this was the best cooked pig.  It was so tasty!!

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The next morning was Christmas, so of course Mikayla woke up extra early ready to start the fun.  We had our annual family photo shoot and then opened up packages.  Mikayla was so much fun this year.  She was so excited and appreciative of each and every gift.  She would exclaim things like, "this is brilliant" or "marvelous" each time she opened something new.  We spent the rest of the morning playing with gifts and then hosted a big breakfast for Joe, Katie, Chris and Kara.  It was a fun and relaxing day.  We also managed to play a little Settler’s of Catan that evening. 

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Mikayla talking to Lylah on her brand new Doc McStuffins cell phone.  She thinks she is big time now!!

And that pretty much wraps up our December and our 2013!  January and February will be busy months of traveling (we head to the US in just two weeks)!